Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rusty steel beams under the Squires Bridge in Somerville. (Photo: Mike Connolly via Twitter)

State transit officials backtracked on plans Wednesday to close the Union Square branch of the MBTA’s green line extension after local officials raised concerns about the lack of alternative service and communication.

Department of Transportation repair work on Squires Bridge, which was forcing the Union Square branch closing, is postponed to September.

The statement attributed the rescheduling of the closing to the administration of Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.

“MassDOT crews inspected the bridge over the weekend and made the decision [to] delay repairs until September so that the closure does not occur at the same time as the Sumner Tunnel closure and to allow appropriate time to explore mitigation options and communicate with the public,” the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said in a statement Wednesday.

The closing, initially set from July 18 to Aug. 28 to allow for “critical repair work” on Squires Bridge, was announced June 28 by email, without social media or signs at green line stations, drawing criticism from state Rep. Mike Connolly and other Somerville legislators on Twitter.

Connolly, with state Reps. Christine Barber and Erika Uyterhoeven, wrote a letter addressed to the Healey administration requesting shuttle buses, fare-free service and more Bluebikes for rent. They also wanted “MassDOT and the MBTA to do more to engage the public and to ensure our constituents and T riders are fully accommodated and supported.”

Connolly took to social media Wednesday to thank the administration for the quick action.

“Thank you to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for responding to our advocacy in support of transit equity for Union Square,” he tweeted. “I am hopeful this extra time will give MassDOT and the MBTA an opportunity to improve the plans for the Squires Bridge repairs.”

An MBTA spokesperson initially said Monday that no shuttle buses would be necessary, as “existing bus options are all less than a 10-minute trip” away, but this stance was walked back Wednesday, when a new statement took a more cautious tone and said details will be available as plans are finalized.

“The administration is grateful for the feedback it received from local officials and community members and will maintain close communication as we work to reschedule the Squires Bridge construction,” the MBTA’s statement said.

The Union Square branch opened just over a year ago, in March.