STEP is a community group dedicated to improving transportation in Somerville, MA. We advocate for the Green Line extension, a more livable city, and public health issues.
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.”
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.”
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)
“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.”
Joe Lynch interviews John Dalton about bridge closures, ADA compliance, and station design.
“State transportation officials are likely to get an earful at an open house Wednesday meant to explain what’s happening with the green line extension, as residents and officials don’t like what they already know. At Monday’s meeting of the City Council, residents and officials rallied behind an order by councillor E. Denise Simmons to rework plans for a Union Square stop, where the design will make it harder to board for riders coming from Cambridge or for people with disabilities or mobility issues.
Councillors called the situation “deplorable” and raised the prospect of a lawsuit.”
The MBTA is proposing some big changes in its Better Bus plan, and if you have comments, send them by March 13.
- Bus #89: removal of service to/from Clarendon Hill, increased frequency to/from Davis Sq.
- Bus #90: removal of service to Wellington, new terminus at Assembly Sq., shifting the stop away from the Sullivan Sq T station to Lombardi Way
- Bus #95: removal of service on Playstead Road in West Medford
You can provide feedback through the links above or email email@example.com.
The price of the future Green Line through Somerville is a lot of annoying construction. In a couple of weeks that begins in earnest with the first major bridge closing. Here’s the schedule:
- Broadway bridge at Ball Square: March 22, 2019 – March 2020
- Washington St underpass in East Somerville: April 2019 – Fall 2019 and also Spring 2020 – Fall 2020
- Medford St bridge at Gilman Square: July 2019 – Spring 2020
- School St bridge: End of 2019 – Fall 2020
- Cedar St bridge: Early 2020
- Lowell St bridge: Summer 2020
The closures of the Broadway and Medford Street bridges are necessary in order to accommodate the construction of new Green Line light-rail tracks. Currently, these bridges are only wide enough to accommodate the existing commuter rail service that operates beneath them. The Washington St. bridge requires a complete reconstruction of abutments and structural span in order to accommodate the addition of new light-rail transit service and the Community Path.
This article has useful maps for all three closures and their associated detours for vehicles, buses, bikes, and pedestrians.