SOMERVILLE – With the winter weather season beginning, Governor Charlie Baker today joined Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez, Keolis CEO and General Manager David Scorey, and Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn at a news conference in Somerville to highlight resiliency and preparedness during winter weather.
“Our Administration has continued to focus on increasing the resiliency of our transportation system during winter weather events and promoting safe and reliable travel,” said Governor Baker. “By investing over $100 million in the MBTA, implementing new technologies and working collaboratively to optimize snow and ice protocols and operations on our roads, we can better ensure the safety of everyone in Massachusetts during winter storms.”
“Our MassDOT and MBTA crews have worked hard to prepare for winter and are ready to continue coordinating with our private sector and municipal partners,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Before, during, and after snow and ice storms, our personnel work closely with cities and towns to treat our roadways, clear bus stops and subway stations, ensure reliable public transit, and help people safely get to wherever they need to go as conditions allow.”
Since the winter of 2015, the MBTA has upgraded track and signal infrastructure, invested in snow-fighting equipment, and stocked up on replacement parts for vehicles, making more than $101 million in investments in winter resiliency. MassDOT expects to have approximately 335,000 tons of salt stored at locations across Massachusetts, along with 850,000 gallons of Magnesium Chloride and 120,000 gallons of salt brine which is used to pretreat the roadway and activate salt.
MassDOT will also deploy 400 new GPS units on snow and ice equipment after successfully deploying 200 GPS units in a pilot program last year. These 600 total GPS units, combined with MassDOT’s mapping capabilities, provide better data and analytics to ensure crews are optimizing operations and efficiently addressing roadways with the appropriate amount of material.
“Winter is here and we are prepared,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “MassDOT snow and ice response crews have been busy preparing equipment, stockpiling material, and training other personnel who will help treat our roadways. Members of the public can do their part to get ready for storms by checking out the many technology tools and resources we have available which provide information on conditions. They should also plan ahead by putting supplies in automobiles or in homes which would prove useful in severe conditions, including flashlights, warm blankets or canned goods.”
“With more than $101 million invested in winter preparedness over the past two years, the MBTA is continuing its efforts to make its vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure more resilient,” said MBTA General Manager Ramírez. “We’re also committed to staying as connected as possible with our customers and encourage our riders to subscribe to T-Alerts, follow @MBTA and @MBTA_CR on Twitter, and check the MBTA website for service information at all times, but especially during the winter season.”
In the worst storms this season, MassDOT’s Highway Division will be able to utilize up to 700 staff members to perform snow and ice removal operations on more than 15,000 lanes miles of roadway throughout the Commonwealth. This snow and ice season, MassDOT will have approximately 4,200 pieces of state and vendor equipment available using over 150 depots and storage locations. This includes over 1,300 plow and spreader combos, 2,100 plows, and 460 front-end loaders.
“The MassDOT Highway Division snow and ice team has spent several months preparing for winter weather and our crews are ready to respond as conditions necessitate,” said Highway Administrator Gulliver. “We encourage people across Massachusetts to prepare by following our social media accounts, visiting our online snow and ice resources, and becoming familiar with the tools that will help them make informed decisions on whether or not to travel during winter weather.”
“In partnership with the MBTA, we invested in training, more personnel and additional equipment to enhance the snow-fighting and winter weather capabilities of commuter rail,” said Keolis General Manager Scorey. “Ahead of snow or freezing conditions, we will have key team members pre-positioned to reduce the impact on service as much as possible. Customers are encouraged to stay connected with our Passenger Information Center in the event of severe weather to receive real-time updates on scheduled service.”
“Our staff is ready to tackle another Boston winter here at Logan Airport but it’s important to remember that winter weather in other parts of the country can have significant impacts on air travel in Boston,” said Massport CEO Glynn. “We always encourage our passengers to check with their airline for the most up to date information on their flight before heading to the airport.”
Last winter, the Boston area saw forty-two inches of snow with the MBTA’s Storm Desk activated seven times and the MBTA’s Emergency Operations Center activated five times. There were no shutdowns or closures in MBTA service with snow-fighting equipment deployed and staffing levels of the Storm Desk increased as needed. Working closely with the MBTA, the Keolis Incident Command Center and Situation Room were activated during these storms as well.
Specifically, on commuter rail, Keolis and the MBTA focused over the past two years on adding winter resources and improving infrastructure resiliency in winter weather. For example, switch function is improved as a result of additional propane heaters and covers. This improvement helps to reduce the risk of switch failure due to ice and snow accumulations. Further, two additional utility track vehicles were outfitted with plows and other winter assets to expand the fleet of snow fighting equipment.
For more information on conditions and impacts during winter weather, members of the public are advised to: