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.
Yesterday US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Somerville to make it official: The federal government will pledge $996 million toward construction of the Green Line Extension. The news first came early last month, but Congress had 30 days to review the project before transit officials officially signed off on the agreement. Joining Foxx on the stage were Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, US Representative Michael E. Capuano joined Curtatone, Governor Deval Patrick, and other officials.
Boston Globe: “US officials pledge to fund MBTA extension”
“We’re building more than a light rail line,” Curtatone told the audience of community members and other local officials gathered at Somerville High School. “We’re building the backbone of a resilient, sustainable economy.”
Somerville Journal: “Feds sign over $1 billion for Green Line Extension through Somerville”
“You never know what people are capable of until they get a shot. And today I am proud to tell you we are giving this community a shot,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said during the press conference.
NECN: “Green Line Extension in Boston Area Gets $1B From US”
“They’ve done their job,” U.S. Representative Michael Capuano, a former Somerville mayor, said at the ceremony held at Somerville High School. “But we need to keep it going, because this federal money will not come without state matching dollars. It’s not just given to us. It has to be matched. The state has lived up to its commitment so far. We have to make sure that the commitment doesn’t somehow fall off the table.”
Associated Press: “Feds announce $996M grant for Green Line extension project”
US Dept of Transportation blog: “MBTA Green Line Extension a glimpse of what’s needed –and possible– nationwide”
Big news today for the Green Line! The Federal Transit Administration announced it will pledge $996 million to the project. The remainder of the money will come from state bonds and $305 million in state operating funds. After years of hope and work toward New Starts funding, STEP is overjoyed at this important step toward making the Green Line a reality in Somerville.
Boston Globe: “US pledges nearly $1b for Green Line extension”
“It speaks legions to what we know, which is that we are one of the most transit-savvy and transit-loving communities. We say that, bar none, we believe this Green Line project is absolutely one of the best projects they could build in the United States.” – Beverly A. Scott, general manager of the MBTA
WBUR: “Federal Government Commits Nearly $1 Billion To Green Line Extension”
Boston Magazine: “Government Will Pay for Nearly Half of the MBTA’s Green Line Extension Project”
CommonWealth Magazine: “Feds set to provide $1b for Green Line extension”
Want to see all the latest images of what the Lechmere, Union Square, and Washington St stations will look like? These stations are now at 90% design, so we can really see the details of these future stations. Check out our map and click on the stations to see 3D renderings and site plans.
Question 1 passed, repealing the 2013 law that automatically increases gas taxes according to inflation. Does that mean funding for the Green Line Extension is at risk? Fortunately, the answer is no.
At the Somerville Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner this past Wednesday, MBTA GM Beverly Scott very clearly stated that the GLX will not be affected by the failure of gas tax indexing. The MBTA had provided the Feds with a financing plan that took the possibility of elimination of gas tax indexing into account and they were OK with it.
One thing that GM Scott acknowledged at the meeting (reflecting on 10 years of community advocacy for the GLX) is that we have been waiting for this needed transit improvement for over 19 years.
MassDOT announced that it has selected five artists for the second phase of the GLX Integrated Art Program. Out of 70 submissions, there are five artists whose work will become an integrated part of four of the new GLX stations (Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square & College Avenue). They will work directly with the design team architects in the incorporation of artwork in the stations.
The artists are Beth Galston, Nancy Selvage, Aaron Stephan, Matt Trimble, and Christine Vaillancourt.
The Green Line Extension Working Group met on Thursday and heard some important updates on the project. The good news is that the station designs for Lechmere, Washington St, and Union Square (referred to as Phase 2) are at 90%, and the other stations (Phase 4) are at 60% design.
The bad news is that the schedule has slipped a bit from earlier promises. What we’re hearing now:
- Phase 2 early construction is now approved to proceed.
- Nov 2015: Phase 4 construction begins.
- Dec 2017: Lechmere, Washington St, and Union Square stations open. (Formerly estimated for 2016 or early 2017.)
- Summer 2020: Other stations open. (Formerly estimated for 2019.)
There was also discussion about the overall cost estimate, sustainability of the project, and Tufts development. Hop over to MGNA for detailed meeting notes.
The latest estimates are in, and the Green Line Extension will likely cost $1.6 billion, with an additional budget cushion increasing that potential total to $2 billion. (Of course, the project would have been cheaper if it were built to its original deadlines, 2011 or 2014!)
Boston Globe: “Green Line extension cost is going up several million dollars”
The Green Line Extension was originally supposed to open in 2011. Well, that didn’t happen. So the State promised end of 2014 in a new legal agreement. Well, that won’t happen either. It will be 2017 before any new stations open.
However, in that legal agreement, the State agreed to implement interim offset measures in case they missed the 2014 deadline. The idea is that they would find other projects that would have the same environmental benefits as the Green Line would have if it had opened on time.
An MBTA internal working group has now announced the interim offset projects that they are recommending to the DEP. They were listed in the 2014 SIP status report:
- Additional off-peak service along existing routes serving the GLX corridor, including the Green Line, and bus routes 80, 88, 91, 94 and 96.
- In conjunction with the increased bus service, MassDOT proposes a 20% increase in off-peak Green Line service. This program will provide additional service to Lechmere Station.
- Purchase of 142 new hybrid electric vehicles for The RIDE.
- Additional park and ride spaces at the Salem and Beverly intermodal facilities.
On the one hand, it’s disappointing that all the projects won’t benefit the Somerville Green Line corridor. On the other hand, we’re getting the Community Path fully built!