Update on the Central Inbound Elevator

For the past several months, my office has been working with constituents to respond to concerns with the status of the Inbound Elevator at the Central Red Line stop in Central Square, Cambridge. 

The Central Inbound Elevator was taken out of service last April, and maintenance work was originally scheduled to be completed this spring.

However, our liaisons at the MBTA are now reporting that the "project encountered some existing unforeseen conditions that require mitigation." The MBTA recently posted a revised completion date of "early 2020."

According to information we obtained from the MBTA's engineering and capital delivery departments, the ongoing work has encountered unforeseen issues with conduit relocation and also with a standpipe.

In their words:

After the shutdown of existing elevator on 4/9/2018, contractor demolished existing elevator head house. After performing field survey, contractor confirmed that a fire department connection (FDC) needs to be relocated to build the new enlarged elevator shaft. When they tried to test the existing stand pipe to relocate FDC on August 19, 2018, the zone 21B of the existing standpipe failed pre-air test. The stand pipe system needs to be repaired before elevator work can continue.  Contractor also discovered in November that there are 17 unforeseen existing conduits in the elevator shaft that need to be relocated for elevator construction to resume. Both the standpipe repair and conduit relocation work can only be performed during non-revenue hours because it requires shutdown of traction power in the train pit. As such contractor can only work about three hours each night. One of the difficulties is to determine the location of leakage in the standpipe that is embedded in the platform structure slab. It is very time consuming. Now the standpipe has been repaired and passed the City of Cambridge FD water test provisionally with minor deficiencies that will be repaired in next couple of weeks. The conduit relocation work is continuing and it will take 3 to 4 more weeks to complete.

The MBTA has further advised: "It is not uncommon to encounter these types of unforeseen existing conditions in an aging infrastructure system such as Central Square Station."

For my part, I am asking the MBTA to take steps to expedite the remaining work as much as possible. The extended loss of elevator access to the Inbound Platform is an unacceptable circumstance, particularly for people with mobility impairments.

To their credit, the MBTA was responsive to requests I made to expedite repairs that were needed on the Central Outbound Elevator earlier this year, and I am hopeful that more can be done to expedite the work that remains on the Inbound side as well. Also, the MBTA has confirmed to me that work has indeed been ongoing on the Inbound side, even if the work has not visible because "most of the work to date is limited to non-revenue hours (1:30 to 4:30 AM) on the platform inside the station."

The MBTA continues to offer a free shuttle bus between Kendall and Central (see above), and MBTA personnel are regularly stationed on the sidewalk by the elevator location. Any constituent or T rider who is having problems accessing the Central Square station is always welcome to contact my office for additional support and advocacy.

Tomorrow's Cambridge City Council agenda includes a policy order relative to the Central Inbound Elevator. In addition to raising serious concerns with the elevator being out of service, the order also cites "hazardous conditions in the stairwells."

Yesterday morning, I walked over to Central station to take a closer look at the stairs. From what I could tell, some sets of stairs were in somewhat better condition than others, but overall, it is clear work needs to be done here as well. The above photo is from the Outbound side, clearly showing a need for maintenance work. For my part, I am continuing to stay in contact with the MBTA to request repairs to these stairwells, as well as overall station cleaning and further efforts to expedite the remaining elevator replacement work.