The private construction firm MBTA officials blamed for the tunnel risks behind a Green and Orange Line partial closure contended Friday that the problem stems from “years of water damage,” not from its work on the Government Center Garage.
In a statement that conflicts with the T’s account of events, the HYM Investment Group and National Real Estate Advisors said its warning about the condition of an underground column near subway tunnels was “unrelated to the demolition work” at the garage.
“Yesterday a team of engineers conducted a survey of the MBTA tunnels underneath the Government Center Garage,” the company said in a statement. “A subsurface column in proximity to the Green and Orange Lines was identified as compromised from years of water damage. The condition of this column is unrelated to the demolition work at the Government Center Garage. In an abundance of caution, the MBTA is diverting operations around the Haymarket MBTA Station.”
MBTA officials announced Thursday night that they would halt subway service between Lechmere and Government Center on the Green Line and between Back Bay and North Station on the Orange Line, warning that it was not safe for trains to run after HYM alerted the T that columns in the area were “severely deteriorated.” The T referred to multiple columns, while HYM’s statement referenced only a single column.
T General Manager Steve Poftak pinned fault for the disruption on HYM, saying the diversion was “a result of this private party’s project” to demolish the garage and that the T “will seek to hold HYM Construction accountable for all costs associated with this event.” At the time, MBTA officials did not specify the “event” in question or how exactly the demolition project led to the column’s deterioration.
In March, the T shut down similar sections of the Green and Orange Lines following a collapse of a section of the Government Center Garage that killed a construction worker. Orange Line trains resumed running three days after the incident, and the Green Line returned two weeks later after the MBTA said its structural engineers “meticulously inspected the tunnel, took precise measurements, and searched carefully for any signs of damage above or below the surface.” Department of Transportation officials announced Friday they would scrap plans to close the Sumner Tunnel to traffic all weekend, the second of 36 weekends planned for major repair work, and would instead keep it open to “minimize any additional travel impacts” created by the MBTA disruption.
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