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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board late last week approved the agency's nearly $2 billion operating budget for fiscal-year 2018.The budget carries a structural deficit of $30 million, which is nearly 10 times smaller than a previously projected operating deficit of $335 million, MBTA officials said in a press release."We still face serious challenges, but we can also report significant progress, more than many people thought was even possible," said MBTA Acting General Manager and Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve. "We owe it to our riders to keep making the tough decisions necessary to position the [MBTA] for long-term sustainable success."The latest budget's deficit will be largely covered by borrowing from assistance funds provided to the MBTA by the Massachusetts Legislature this year. The board also directed the MBTA to identify $5 million in commuter-rail savings.The MBTA and its fiscal control board have been working toward balancing the agency's budget through a combination of internal cost controls and increasing revenue. To learn more about the MBTA's operational and financial turnaround efforts, read this feature from Progressive Railroading's February issue.Meanwhile, MBTA commuter-rail operator Keolis Commuter Services last week announced plans to install a new swing bridge and positive train control (PTC) infrastructure on the Newburyport/Rockport lines.The company will replace a 130-year-old swing bridge over the Danvers River in Beverly. The work will require shutting down the lines for 28 days, Keolis officials said in a press release."[B]y simultaneously installing the swing bridge while PTC infrastructure is being installed, the number of days the trains will have service suspended will be reduced, compared with not doing the two projects at the same time," Keolis officials said.During the closures, crews also will perform other maintenance and enhancement work, including replacing about 10,000 ties between stations in Beverly and Ipswich.
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