Green Line
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Green Line update: construction, detours, and more

Coronavirus canceled the official Green Line Extension meeting recently, but you can view the slides from the comfort of your couch. You’ll find updates on:

  • Lechmere area construction details
  • Lechmere closure and replacement bus service
  • Street closures and detours

We were hoping for more details on station designs, but those weren’t shared.

By the way, this is the 1,000th post on STEP’s website! The fight for better transportation in Somerville has been a long one.

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Green Line
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Updates to Somerville bridge closures

As Green Line construction continues, three bridges will continue to be closed longer than originally planned. Here’s the latest schedule:

Washington St.: Expected to reopen in May 2020.  
Broadway: Expected to reopen in July 2020. 
School St.: Expected to close after Washington St. bridge is reopened in May 2020 and reopen in June 2021 (the School St. bridge will not close until the Washington St. bridge is reopened.)
Medford St.: Expected to reopen in October.

The reason for moving the date is based on the contractor encountering an environmental contaminated water condition and the fact that the Broadway Bridge has been reconstructed a few times in the past and they have hit granite bridge abutment foundations that were unforeseen.

Officials still expect the Green Line Extension to be completed on time, by the end of 2021.

“Green Line Extension Bridge Openings Delayed” (Somerville Patch)

“In his testimony before the MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board today, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said the city is “deeply disappointed” by the delays and will need additional assistance to address the impact of the closures. He said his community has had to shoulder a difficult burden during construction and will work with the MBTA and MassDOT to reduce its effects, including advocating for assistance with public safety and traffic management and support for local businesses .”

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Green Line
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Lechmere closes in May for Green Line construction

“Lechmere Station closure looming as Green Line extension moves forward” (Boston Globe)

The MBTA is closing the decrepit Lechmere station at the Green Line’s current northern terminus next spring while it builds a new station across Monsignor O’Brien Highway, meaning for the better part of a year the trolleys will end their run at North Station. The Science Park station will also be closed while the T conducts major repairs to the viaduct that carries the Green Line.

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Bridge closures: updated Green Line schedule

MassDOT shared an updated schedule for bridge closure at the public meeting last month. View all the slides for a Green Line construction update.

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Green Line
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Noise, Path, trees, and more concerns at Green Line meeting

“Somerville wants open bridges, less noise, and more trees from GLX team” (Somerville Journal)

Though many residents attended the Nov. 19 meeting to learn about the progressing work, many shared concerns about construction noise, loss of trees, and community path design.

Concerned resident Wig Zamore noted thousands of trees were cut down due to the GLX and high school projects, and felling just 10 mature trees can trigger an action with the Massachusetts Environment Policy Act, should citizens choose to file it and start the process.

Cherry Street resident Allen Moore is invested in the community path: he is a member of the Somerville Bike Committee and is co-president of the Friends of the Community Path.

“We have given a lot of suggestions to the state on widening this path,” he said. “We understand no one wants to delay the project, including us, but there are some small changes — without changing the structure or retaining walls, etc. — which we’ve requested, and have not been adopted, so I’d like to know why they can’t be done.”

“Buses will be back for 11 months at Lechmere as green line extension T project rolls onward” (Cambridge Day)

Before a relocated Lechmere light rail station opens in December 2021, residents can expect 11 months of bus service to replace trains starting in May, state transportation officials say.

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Green Line
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Green Line: 20% built, 80% to go

“Construction on Green Line extension 20 percent complete” (WCVB)

Project manager John Dalton gave WCVB a tour of the efforts underway to connect Cambridge, Somerville and Medford with 4.7 miles of new rail.

Construction on the more than $2 billion project is now almost 20 percent complete. “We’re working around the clock in a lot of locations,” Dalton said. Watch the video.

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MBTA Board concerned about potential Green Line delay

“‘Count us as very worried’ about Green Line extension project, MBTA official says” (Boston Globe)

MBTA officials said Monday they are concerned about keeping the $2.3 billion Green Line extension project on schedule after being told a key piece of it has fallen months behind.

John Dalton, who is overseeing the 4.7 mile extension, told the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s board that the overall project remains on time and that work crews can catch up before service on the route is scheduled to begin in late 2021.

“The fact that we are two years away from being done with this project means there is time to recover,” Dalton told reporters after the meeting.

But pressure is beginning to build. Work to relocate a set of existing commuter rail tracks that the new line will run alongside is now expected to creep into November — two months after it was originally scheduled, Dalton said. With winter approaching and construction spending expected to swell significantly over the next year, the details left board members uneasy.

“Count us as very worried,” said Joseph Aiello, chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board. He later told Dalton: “Throw everything you’ve got at it. I can’t tell you how important it is to get this project on schedule, under whatever means and methods you can.”

“Green Line extension facing ‘schedule pressures'” (WCVB)

While GLX representatives downplayed the risk of delay and said they have enough time to recover the original schedule, Fiscal and Management Control Board Chair Joseph Aiello told the project’s representatives “throw everything you got at it” to stave off a delay.

Referring to the board, Aiello said, “Count us as very worried.”

“It would be really, really, really damaging to not keep this project on schedule,” he said. “We’ve got to get this job on schedule for the people who are waiting for the service as well as the larger context of what we’re trying to achieve as an organization. This has got a lot of eyeballs on it.”

John Dalton, hired by the MBTA in 2016 to oversee the project, told reporters he does not believe the board should be worried about progress.

“There’s schedule changing all the time,” he said. “Some things are happening earlier, some things are happening later. This one’s happening later than planned. But the fact that we are two years away from being done with this project means there’s time to recover it.”

He said if timing was still off in a year and there were fewer opportunities to address any delays, he would “start to ask more direct questions,” but stood by his answer to Aiello that the project remains “on time.”

View the Green Line update presented to the MBTA Board.

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Green Line construction two months behind schedule, still opening 2021

The MBTA Board learned that work on the Green Line is running a bit behind. There are concerns about the contractor’s ability to organize resources as well as get the necessary subcontractors in place quickly enough.

These kinds of delays could be addressed and the time could be made up. But there’s a concern that these delays could lead to additional delays. Here are the recently updated dates:

  • Union Square branch opens June 2021 (contract date is supposed to be April)
  • Medford branch opens Sept 2021 (contract date is supposed to be July)
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About STEP
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STEP at ArtBeat

Another ArtBeat, another opportunity to share what’s going on with the Green Line and other transportation projects in Somerville. Thanks everyone who dropped by our booth to say hello! Click for more photos.

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There are about 390 people working on the Green Line construction now

“Making tracks: Pace of work on Green Line extension project is picking up” (Boston Globe)

“Tons of dirt are being removed and trucked to the Somerville-Cambridge border, where it will be used to form an elevated base for a new Green Line vehicle facility.

Nearby, massive concrete structures leap out of the earth to eventually carry viaducts to the new destinations.

Noise barriers, retaining walls, and drainage systems are being installed alongside neighbors’ backyards. And bridges and old buildings are being demolished to make space, marking a huge disruption to Somerville’s road network.”

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