Green Line

Green Line
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Green Line team presents scaled-back plan to transportation boards

After months of work, today the interim Green Line team shared their final report with the two decision-making boards, outlining a plan to bring down the overall cost of the Green Line Extension.  The scaled-back Green Line and Community Path are consistent with plans they’ve been presenting at recent public meetings. Download the presentation or the full report.

Here’s what survives in the new proposed plan:

  • All seven Green Line stations in their previously planned locations
  • Identical platform size, functionality, and frequency of service
  • An unacceptable version of the Community Path (see below)
  • 24 new Green Line cars

Here’s what’s different:

  • The stations are greatly scaled back. Instead of buildings, we get simple platforms with modest weather shelters. They will still be ADA accessible, but there are sacrifices. Fewer elevators and stairs, no escalators. Very barebones but functional.
  • The Community Path takes a much less expensive route that is at best inconvenient and at most dangerous, as part of it forces cyclists and pedestrians onto McGrath Highway! See more details.
  • More simplification when it comes to the much smaller maintenance facility, bridge designs, and power and signal systems.
  • Cost savings from improved construction conditions and timing.

As a result of these changes, the Green Line team estimates they can bring the cost down from around $3 billion to less than $2.3 billion (not including around $300 million of finance charges). Separately, the Boston MPO recently voted to move $152 million in federal highway funds (targeted to a later Route 16 Green Line stop) to this project. Also separately, Somerville and Cambridge pledged $75 million toward the Green Line.

So when you add it all up, the remaining funding gap is $73 million (again, not including those finance charges). In the overall scheme of things, that’s very promising.

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Green Line
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Boston Globe dives into how the state messed up on the Green Line Extension

“Warning signs ignored on Green Line extension” (Boston Globe)

This article is a must-read.

“How did the project go so wildly off the rails? A Globe review of internal e-mails, a consultant’s analysis of the process, and interviews with key players has found that officials were so eager to finish the job quickly that they relied for months on flawed budgets instead of taking the time to better update cost estimates. The MBTA and the private company chosen to manage the project failed to heed several big warnings – beginning as early as 2013 – that pointed to ballooning costs, some of which sprouted from station designs that became more elaborate and complex as time went on. Officials failed to account for rapidly increasing labor costs as the economy improved. And the T and its consultants had little experience with a contracting method for the project that was completely new to the state.”

Come to the critical meeting on Monday!

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Green Line
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Monday is the most important Green Line meeting in 10 years. Be there if you can!

On Monday, the state might be making the big decision on whether the Green Line Extension goes forward.

The Fiscal and Management Control Board will be devoting the first 90 minutes of its meeting to listening to public comments on the Green Line Extension and Community Path. This will be your last chance to speak directly to the people who will decide the fate of these vital projects before the Control Board votes on how to proceed.

If you haven’t spoken up already, Monday is your chance, and it may be the last! Even if you don’t speak, it’s important to have a big crowd there to show support. Bring a sign!

It’s Monday, 1pm, at 10 Park Plaza in Boston, Conference Rooms 1, 2 and 3. Please come!

Keep reading for some suggested talking points.

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Green Line
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The Green Line extension’s day of reckoning is coming

Read the article on Boston.com

“Eight months after transportation officials revealed the long-awaited Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford was vaulting way, way over its budget, a major project update and a likely decision on its future are slated for Monday at a joint meeting of the boards that separately oversee the MBTA and the state’s Department of Transportation.”

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Green Line
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Somerville and Cambridge offer up $75 million for Green Line Extension

“Somerville, Cambridge offer $75m to save Green Line extension” (Boston Globe)

“‘It became very clear to us that to have any shot of moving the Green Line forward, we’d have to make a significant contribution,’ said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, whose city is offering $50 million. ‘We didn’t come to this decision lightly.’

On Monday consultants hired by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation are set to present redesigned, scaled-down stations, contracting changes, and other plans aimed at reducing the cost of the now-$3 billion project. The boards of MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s fiscal control board could then vote to approve the revised plan – or to kill the project altogether – perhaps as soon as Monday.”

“Somerville, Cambridge Plan To Deliver $75 Million With Hopes Of Advancing Green Line Project” (WBUR)

“Despite the fact that our cities bear no responsibility for the cost overruns that brought the GLX to this moment of crisis, we will seek to support the Commonwealth by expanding our cost-sharing role. The Green Line is that important to our communities, our region, and our state.”

“Somerville, Cambridge leaders to push for city funding for Green Line extension” (Boston.com)

“Curtatone and Rossi said without the financial commitments from their cities, they believed the extension would be canceled and the state would forfeit a near-billion dollar federal grant, as well as an estimated $700 million in ‘sunk costs’ already spent by the state.”

“Somerville, Cambridge pledge a total of $75M to the Green Line Extension” (Cambridge Chronicle)

Read the joint press release

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Green Line
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“Skeletal” Green Line design ideas prompt criticism

“Residents air disappointment at final GLX meeting” (Somerville Journal)

“At the meeting, Cambridge city councilor Leland Cheung said the process has been an ‘absolute train wreck of this management,’ and instead of going after the contractors who have wasted tax payer dollars, the state has gone after residents to accept a ‘bare-bones proposal.’ According to Cheung, residents have spent countless hours thinking about the future of the area, and developers, council, and the city of Cambridge has put up resources that have been ‘thrown to the wayside.'”

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Check out the scary alternative Community Path

path_0416

The State is exploring ways of bringing down the cost of the Community Path (and of course of the Green Line Extension overall). At the April 13 community meeting, they walked through an alternative and very stripped-down version of the Path, and the slides they presented are now available.

Download the slides to see sketches of the new Path ideas and how they differ from the original design. For example, the alternative Path goes along McGrath Highway for quite a distance, which feels, frankly, insane. These ideas are all conceptual at this point, but scary nonetheless.

Fortunately, the good people of Friends of the Community Path have shared their own recommendations with the State. Come to the important Board meeting on May 9 and support the Green Line and Community Path!

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Green Line, Health Issues, Transportation News
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Yeah, that’s what regional travel demand can feel like

regional-travel-demand

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Greater Boston’s next potential economic hot spot hangs in the balance

“Will the State Give the Green Light to the Green Line Extension?” (BostInno)

“The extension will power a new wave of economic growth in the area.  According to local and state officials, the Green Line project is expected to spur roughly $4 billion in private investment in our economy, creating 30,000 construction jobs and 30,000 permanent jobs.

With the upcoming decision by the Transportation Department and the MBTA, the state will be facing a high stakes crossroads.  Officials at both agencies certainly have an obligation to make sure the Green Line Extension costs are reined in; that they don’t become a mini-Big Dig for taxpayers.  However, assuming those expenses can be brought under control, we should keep making this investment.  Failure to do so will result in paying a far higher price down the road – in lost jobs, lost growth, and a lost foothold in the global competition for innovation jobs.”

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Green Line
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The state might ask Somerville to pay for some of the Green Line

Did the city of Boston have to pay for the Big Dig when it went way over budget? No. Did suburban communities have to pay when the commuter rail lines were extended? No. Will other cities have to pay for future T extensions? Unlikely. But for now, Somerville might be asked to pay up for the Green Line Extension.

This critical project is currently on hold because of poor management, an unwise procurement process, and profiteering contractors who inflated their estimates. The state is trying to get the overall costs down and obtain more realistic estimates for building the Green Line. But it looks like Somerville, which has suffered from the lack of good public transportation, will now suffer in a different way and be asked to foot part of the bill. This is an astounding precedent.

Read more about the details…

“MBTA could ask for future funds from cities” (Medford Transcript)

“If project managers cannot bring the price of the project back to its original budget, the MBTA board will be looking for local funds from Medford, Somerville and Cambridge to move the project forward, the state’s Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told a group of reporters after the meeting….’Once we have the new price tag, if it exceeds the currently available resources, we will need the communities to step up to the plate,’ Pollack said.”

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