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Bus or Billboard? Union Square, Somerville, Mass., August 2022. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2022 Jason Pramas.
Bus or Billboard? Union Square, Somerville, Mass., August 2022. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2022 Jason Pramas.

Getting Around During the MBTA Shutdown …  and More!


Kids’ makerspace gets cool new digs thanks to community benefits



How Are You Getting Around?

In case you haven’t heard, the MBTA has suspended service on the entire Orange Line and part of the Green Line between Government Center and Union Square. The unprecedented shutdown to make necessary repairs and improvements will last one month, the T promises.  

During the shutdown, riders can travel via shuttle buses, enhanced Commuter Rail service, accessible shuttle vans (available by request), Bluebikes, and by connecting to other subway and bus routes. 

Free accessible shuttle buses replace Green Line service between Government Center and Union Square stations, and Orange Line service from Oak Grove to Government Center and from Forest Hills to Copley. The MBTA is posting signage and deploying Transit Ambassadors at all stops to direct riders.

The MBTA is also offering increased Commuter Rail service during the shutdown. Riders can show their CharlieCard or CharlieTicket to conductors to ride the Commuter Rail in Zones 1A, 1, and 2 at no charge. 

Approximately 20 wheelchair-accessible vans will be available to supplement shuttle bus service. Any rider preferring to be transported via accessible van can request to do so by speaking to MBTA personnel at each station. 

MassDOT has developed a bicyclist guide with recommended routes, safety information, and other resources for both new and experienced cyclists. Free 30-day Bluebikes passes are available during the closures. To sign up, go to and select “Monthly Membership.”

On Somerville’s roads, to help shuttle buses travel as efficiently as possible, the City is installing priority bus lanes at Grand Union Blvd. (Foley St. to Revolution Dr.), and Broadway (eastbound from Mt. Vernon St. to Brighton St.).

City staff are working closely with MassDOT officials to mitigate congestion on MassDOT roadways in Somerville. Staff will be monitoring conditions throughout the shutdown and making changes to promote safe and efficient travel. 

For all information related to the shutdown, visit


Rusty Water Warning

The Somerville Fire Department is conducting its annual inspection of all fire hydrants between Monday, Aug. 22, and Saturday, Sept. 3. Inspections and testing will be conducted Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and, if necessary, in the evening between 6:15 and 8:15 p.m.

During inspections, water will be flushed from the hydrants and their mechanical operations will be checked. As a result, some sediment may be disturbed in the water mains, potentially causing rusty water in homes or businesses. The rusty water will appear dirty or discolored but does not pose a health hazard. It could stain fabric, however, so residents are advised not to do laundry while water is discolored. This rusty condition will be temporary and should clear in a few hours.

Anyone with questions about this procedure may contact the Somerville Fire Department at 617-623-1700.


Participate in Participatory Budgeting

“Participatory budgeting” means members of the public decide how to spend money in a city budget. This year, for the first time in Somerville, Mayor Katjana Ballantyne earmarked $1 million in the City’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget for participatory budgeting. Residents and community-based organizations will be able to propose and vote on priorities for spending those funds.

The City of Somerville is convening a Participatory Budgeting Working Group  to help plan what participatory budgeting will look like, and all residents are invited to apply. The Working Group will establish guidelines and develop a process to roll out participatory budgeting in an inclusive, equitable manner. Members will write policies, organize events, build outreach and engagement strategies, and create and disseminate informational materials.

The working group will consist of 11 residents and one City Councilor. Members should expect to meet for approximately 90 minutes weekly for eight weeks. These are volunteer positions.

Applications are due Friday, Sept. 16. To apply, send a statement of interest to Megan Huckenpahler at or by mail to Participatory Budgeting, Somerville City Hall, 93 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02143. Please email Megan or call her at 617-625-6600 ext. 2107 with any questions.

Photo credit: Bus or Billboard? Union Square, Somerville, Mass., August 2022. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2022 Jason Pramas.

This article is syndicated by the Somerville Wire municipal news service of the Somerville News Garden project of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

All Somerville Wire articles may be republished by community news outlets free of charge with permission and by larger commercial news outlets for a fee. Republication requests and all other inquiries should be directed to Somerville Wire articles are also syndicated by BINJ’s MassWire state news service at


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Linda Pinkow is a reporter for the Somerville Wire. She is also a development consultant for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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