Sunday, May 26, 2024

A row of soundproofing tiles are seen removed in Friday photos released by the MBTA.

A soundproofing ceiling tile soaked with water fell at the Harvard Square red line station on Wednesday, coming dangerously close to crashing onto the heads of passersby on the station’s southbound platform, the MTBA said Friday.

The area was “quickly closed” so engineers could inspect the remaining panels and take away any that “posed an immediate safety concern,” the T said in a press release via social media. “We’re incredibly thankful no one was injured.”

The five-pounds aluminum panels went up around 1980 to improve the looks of the station and to add soundproofing. Engineers for the state transit agency said they found that over time water had accumulated in the panel’s insulated backing and corroded the metal rivets holding it in place. The panel that fell wound up weighing around 25 pounds before the rivets gave way. Video timestamps show the fall occurring at 3:54 p.m.

A Twitter user identified as Brandon Stokes said he got video of the moment the tile fell through a public records request:

“We’re removing the remaining non-structural panels as a precaution and so we can thoroughly investigate the ceiling and source of water intrusion,” T officials said.

There were no details given on the number of additional panels removed; an entire row was shown missing in photos released by the transit agency,

Stations with similar paneling are also being inspected to see if the problem might repeat there, the T said.

“The safety of our riders and employees is paramount. As such, we’ll make any necessary changes to the structures and panels to shield against future incidents,” T officials said.

Aging infrastructure has caused problems elsewhere on the line. In August 2018, around 500 spaces of the 2,500-parking-space garage at Alewife station was cordoned off after a chunk of ceiling concrete fell through the window of a car. No one was hurt. The garage opened in 1985.