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.
“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.”
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.”
“Transpo Chief Open to New State $$ for GLX Repair Facility” (State House News Service)
Pollack said it’s a “possibility” that the planned facility near the current Lechmere Station would work better for system-wide Green Line repair infrastructure. A consultant’s December report to the control board said the vehicle maintenance facility, with room to store 80 cars, was about 11 percent of the construction cost and presented opportunities for cost savings.
“Let’s be clear at what’s in the GLX budget that’s really for GLX and if it’s not that doesn’t mean we don’t do it,” Pollack said. Pollack said a “certain amount of maintenance” is needed for the Green Line Extension to operate, and said, “I think it’s a distinction between the board investing state-of-good-repair dollars, which the control board has been 100 percent behind, and making sure that in the Green Line project we are not shifting costs from state-of-good-repair onto a project that we are then asking the community of Somerville and other communities to help pay for.”
“Green Line extension walking path redesigned” (Boston Globe)
“Under the new design, the path would be farther away from the stations and tracks in some areas, so that the T could avoid building the walls. But that means some big changes. For instance, instead of running near the Green Line tracks in the section near Washington Street to around North Point, the path would run along the busy McGrath Highway.
Several supporters expressed concerns about that particular change, saying many cyclists and pedestrians would be reluctant to travel a path along McGrath Highway. Others worried that the new path had fewer entrances from the street and could take away access from communities that need it most.”
“In response to ballooning costs of the long-anticipated Green Line Extension project, the FMCB began considering starkly reduced iterations of that project, potentially cutting whole neighborhoods (Union Square, for one) out of the picture and reconsidering the long-anticipated extension of a community path in Somerville. With decisions expected as soon as a month from now, citizens and interest groups fighting for those projects, and those jobs, are making their cases with increasing urgency and, in some cases, diminishing patience….
Several people spoke on behalf of the beleaguered Community Path extension, which the Control Board has begun to scrutinize as potentially exceeding expected costs, Friends of the Community Path co-president Lynn Weissman noted that the path, which her group thinks can be built for less than $20 million, ‘is probably less than the cost of a lot of parking garages that have been built as a part of transit projects.'”
“MBTA: Community path could be cut down or cut out of GLX” (Somerville Journal)
“The community path extension may be cut or scaled down from the Green Line Extension and Medford, Cambridge and Somerville are still being asked to contribute to the overall cost of the billion-dollar project, according to MBTA officials.”
Come to Somerville High School Wednesday night at 6:30 to support the Green Line and Community Path!
From The Somerville Times…
Let’s talk about where you’re going to be next Wednesday. That evening at the Somerville High auditorium we have a big community meeting with state officials concerning the Green Line extension. Everybody is welcome to attend and that is roughly the amount of people we’d like see there: everybody.
We may not be able to fit tens of thousands into the auditorium, but that’s the number of people this project affects. We’ve waited decades for the reintroduction of rail transit to the heart of our city. The work is under way. $700 million is already sunk in the project whether we build it or not. We have come too far and we are too close to having it operational not to bring it over the finish line. That’s why you need to be there. We want to emphasize the scope and importance of this project. And the decision makers need to hear it from you. I’ve been out talking and testifying about this over and over. But this is your meeting. We need your voice this time. Read more…
“Medford Mayor Stephanie M. Burke: Route 16 station is key to project” (Medford Transcript)
“We all understand that there’s give and take,” Burke said at the March 23 meeting, the first of two scheduled in Medford. “And we certainly are willing to work with the state and federal government. We really want to work collaboratively to see this work come to fruition.”
From the Boston Globe column by Yvonne Abraham:
“…the stripped-down proposals offered so far, while they save dollars now, squander the Green Line’s great potential for public good….So far, the administration has done a great job of lowering expectations on the project, even threatening to cancel it altogether. Happy to jack up fares on riders, they won’t go near higher taxes for others, even though everybody would benefit. So they say we can’t afford what planners had envisioned, and advocates have scaled back their demands. But diminished expectations exact their own price.”