[Coverage Developing] MBTA officials are planning a significant expansion of weekend shutdowns through December, aiming to accelerate planned maintenance and infrastructure improvements in the wake of derailments and service problems.

The $27.5 million plan, first reported by the Boston Globe on Sunday and confirmed to the News Service on Monday, would eliminate rail service for large stretches of the Red, Orange and Green Lines for several consecutive weekends.

While officials acknowledged the approach will create months of headaches for commuters, they said closures will bring major service improvements — including the replacement of thousands of feet of track and greater station accessibility — on a shorter timeline.

"We know that diversions in service are an inconvenience in the short term, but these shutdowns will allow us to quicken the pace of investments in the system more efficiently and effectively," MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. "We've heard loud and clear that we need to accelerate the pace of improvements. This is an especially important opportunity for the MBTA to replace track in areas that aren't accessible to work crews without these shutdowns."

Under the plan, the MBTA would shut down Orange Line service between the Tufts and Sullivan stops for six straight weekends from Oct. 5 to Nov. 10, affecting about 80 percent of the line's riders. The Red Line would also shut down between Broadway and Kendall every weekend from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15, excluding the weekend of Thanksgiving, which the MBTA said would impact 75 percent of passengers.

On the Green Line, the C branch will be closed an extra weekend on Oct. 26 and 27 and the B branch will see shutdowns on Sept. 7 and 8, Nov. 2 and 3 and Nov. 23 and 24, the T said. That comes on top of already-planned shutdowns to the D branch that will run almost every weekend between mid-September and the end of December.

Officials will discuss the plans at a T board meeting on Monday.

~ Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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