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Boston Globe: Green Line debate

“Green Line extension still open for debate”


By Christine McConville
Plans by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to bring the Green Line into West Medford have churned up plenty of discussion of late.
A few weeks ago, the state announced its intention to extend the Green Line into both Medford and Somerville. The $559 million project should be completed by 2014. The decision is rooted in a promise made by the state years ago to expand and modernize the Boston area’s transit system to offset the pollution caused by cars using Big Dig tunnels and roadways.
People in Somerville were delighted with the news, but some people in Medford said they didn’t know enough of the details to be sure how they felt.
That’s still true: Many of the specifics about where the Medford line will go and where stops will be built are still up in the air.
But Medford transit enthusiasts are worried that the voices of the skeptics may drown out voices of the advocates, and they are working to get their support documented.
”We think it is important for Medford to be proactive,” said Ken Krause, a Medford resident who served on a committee that studied ways to improve public transit in the Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge area. The Beyond Lechmere Committee met for 11 months before it disbanded in May.
Now, Krause said, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection is about to begin a three-month study of the proposed extension. When the study is complete, there will be a series of public hearings on the proposal that will probably begin in the fall.
”When the state endorsed the project, it seemed like a lot of people thought it was a done deal, but we are just at the beginning of a process that may take years,” Krause said.
Krause said that although the plan is very much in the beginning stages, ”it looks like the extension is going to happen, in some shape or form, and we want people to get involved.
”Here’s an area where input from the community is going to be crucial to ensure that the finished product is the best possible outcome for the people of Medford,” he said.
Representative J. James Marzilli Jr., an Arlington Democrat whose district includes parts of Medford, said he has been assured that public opinions will be given lots of weight.
He attended a meeting recently with state and MBTA officials, who, he said, ”have committed to involving Medford residents in the decision-making process.”
During the summer lull, residents can track discussion of the extension project online at: groups.yahoo.com/group/medford_green_line_extension/.
If you really can’t get enough on the Green Line extension, consider attending a transportation discussion featuring David Luberoff, executive director of Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute.
Luberoff has been stirring up the transit debate.
Cleaner air and less-congested roads were the original reasons for extending the Green Line. Luberoff has been publicly questioning the data that supporters say illustrate that extending the Green Line will accomplish those goals.
”There’s clearly no significant impact on air quality, and a questionable impact on congestion,” he said last week, ”so we ought to think hard about whether this does what people think it ought to do.”
Luberoff will be speaking about this and other transportation matters June 10 at 8 a.m. in downtown Boston. To register, call Dan Wilson, Move Massachusetts’ executive director, at 617-720-4334, or e-mail him at danwilson1@verizon.net.

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