In the aftermath of Jones's death, the MBTA denied responsibility for maintaining those stairs: “the staircase is not MBTA property,” a T spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS.
But it wasn't clear who actually was responsible. A state GIS map suggests that the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) controls both Columbia Road, the street at the top of the staircase, and Old Colony Avenue, the street that runs beneath the overpass next to the Red Line station.
But the state's bridge inventory says that MassDOT is responsible for the Columbia Road overpass, while other parts of Columbia Road remain under the jurisdiction of the DCR.
"[The stairs are] among dozens of state public spaces that straddle administrative borders of different state agencies, putting them in a bureaucratic vortex where oversight can be lax and ownership uncertain. Critics say this haphazard pattern has led to lapsed repairs, public safety risks, and political finger pointing."
StreetsblogMASS has submitted two public records requests – to the DCR and to MassDOT – for information related to the JFK/UMass stairs, including whether the agencies conducted any safety inspections.
To date, the agencies still have not responded, although they still have several more days to do so under the Massachusetts public records law.