Massachusetts transportation boss takes a vacation as Orange Line shutdown looms

Some eyebrows may have been raised when the state’s transportation boss opted to take a vacation in the week leading up to an unprecedented 30-day Orange Line shutdown that has been dubbed a “transit emergency.”

MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler returned to Massachusetts on Wednesday “after a planned family vacation,” the agency’s spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard said.

“While out of state, he remained in close communication with staff on issues, including executing plans for the upcoming Orange Line closure,” she said.

While the timing of the trip, first reported by Politico, may not be optimal, transit advocates responded with a collective shrug, saying they have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

“I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Stacy Thompson, LivableStreets executive director. “Everyone leaves the state of Massachusetts at some point.”

Thompson said there’s no sense internally that Tesler has been absent among her partners at the municipal level, MassDOT and the MBTA.

TransitMatters COO Jarred Johnson agreed, saying he had no doubt Tesler was keeping in touch with his colleagues at MassDOT and others involved with the project while he was out of town.

Johnson said he was more concerned about Gov. Charlie Baker’s potential interference with MBTA communication during the shutdown, citing what was seen regarding derailments that occurred during the Blue Line diversion.

He is also not thrilled with Baker’s “cavalier attitude” toward the difficulties commuters will endure during the prolonged Orange and partial Green Line closure.

Baker’s office did not respond to a request for comment.