Green and Orange Lines shut down near Haymarket due to unsafe garage supports

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The T is encouraging commuters impacted by the disruptions to work from home until the problem is solved if they can.

HYM Construction discovered support columns that pass through the MBTA tunnels have severely deteriorated. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Major disruptions on the Green and Orange Lines are expected to last several days after a contractor discovered that garage supports running through the MBTA tunnels near Haymarket Station have deteriorated.

The MBTA announced Thursday night that, effective immediately, the Orange Line will not be running between Back Bay and North Station. It said Orange Line riders can use the Green Line between Copley and Government Center stations as an alternative.

Additionally, the Green Line will be replaced with shuttle buses between Lechmere and Government Center stations.

The MBTA said that HYM Construction, the contractor demolishing the private Government Center Garage, told the transit authority Thursday afternoon that the garage’s support columns that are part of the subway tunnels around Haymarket station have become dilapidated.

The tunnel area is currently an unsafe environment for trains to pass through, the MBTA said, so service needed to be stopped immediately.

In a statement, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak blamed HYM Construction for the service disruptions.

“This service disruption as a result of HYM’s project is unacceptable and the MBTA will seek to hold HYM Construction accountable for all costs associated with this event,” Poftak said. “Riders’ safety is our top priority and unfortunately, as a result of this private party’s project, we must divert trains until the tunnels can be inspected and cleared by independent experts.”

An MBTA spokesperson explained to Boston.com over the phone that even though the garage supports run through the MBTA tunnels, they are part of the garage, which is privately owned, and therefore not the responsibility of the MBTA.

WBZ-TV reported that in a statement, HYM Construction said the columns had deteriorated because of water damage, and that the service disruptions are not the result of ongoing construction work at the garage.

“A subsurface column in proximity to the Green and Orange Lines was identified as compromised from years of water damage,” HYM said in a statement to CBS News. “The condition of this column is unrelated to the demolition work at the Government Center Garage.”

The MBTA said it will not resume rail service through the Haymarket tunnels until a team of structural engineers makes emergency repairs and confirms that subway service can safely resume.

The T said it will provide service updates to customers as the inspection work continues, but that it anticipates the service disruptions could last several days.

Extra MBTA personnel will be on hand to assist customers during this train service outage, the MBTA said. Additional accessibility vans will also be available, and interested riders should ask MBTA personnel for information.

“Because of expected delays on local roads as buses navigate Boston’s downtown streets, the MBTA also encourages commuters directly impacted by the tunnel closures to consider working from home if possible during this time,” the MBTA wrote.

These service disruptions are the latest in a long line of troubles for the MBTA in recent months.

Just earlier this week, the transit agency pulled all of its new Orange Line trains out of service due to a battery issue with some of them. The week before, it reduced service on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines in response to federal authorities criticizing the use of overworked train dispatchers.

On June 15, the Federal Transit Authority released four special directives to the MBTA in an attempt to immediately increase safety. The FTA had been inspecting the MBTA for weeks following a series of safety failures in which people were injured.

In one of the more alarming instances, a man was dragged to death after his arm was caught between the doors of a Red Line train car. The train cars are not supposed to be able to move forward when the doors are obstructed.

The FTA has yet to decide whether or not it will take over the MBTA to prevent further problems, and a decision is likely to come at the end of the summer. A similar federal takeover has happened only once before, in Washington DC

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