State announces plan to build Green Line in two phases
Although the State still expresses support for a Route 16 terminus for the Green Line, ongoing funding problems have changed the plan. Now there will be a two-phase build, with Phase 1 including the Lowell Line branch to College Ave and the Union Square branch. Phase 2 will extend the Green Line to Route 16 “shortly after” Phase 1, using “flex” funding recently voted on by the Boston Region MPO.
– The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (DEIR/EA) will be submitted in August.
– There will be a public hearing and comment period about this important report.
– The State will apply for federal New Starts funding this fall.
Keep reading for the full letter from the State to the members of the Green Line Extension Advisory Group.
Dear Green Line Extension Advisory Group Members –
Since we last met, EOT and the Green Line Extension project team have been working with our federal and state partners to prepare for the submission of a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (DEIR/EA) for the Green Line Extension project. As recently reaffirmed as part of the development of the Regional Transportation Plan for the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Green Line Extension is a top transportation priority of both the Commonwealth and the Patrick Administration. As many of you likely know, the financial realities confronting the Commonwealth’s transportation agencies are dire, and we are fortunate to be advancing this project in these tough times. As a number of months have passed since our last meeting, we wanted to update you on several important happenings on the Green Line Extension project:
* We are currently on track to file the DEIR/EA in August. This important milestone will bring to a close the current phase of the project and will allow the project team to focus its efforts on Preliminary Engineering and any additional necessary environmental review.
* Prior to the submission of the DEIR/EA, the project team will convene a conference call – rather than a meeting, in deference to summer vacation schedules – for Advisory Group members and interested members of the public. This call will be an opportunity for the project team to provide an overview of the contents of the DEIR/EA, to explain the submission process, and to answer any questions. We anticipate scheduling the conference call soon.
* Following the submission of the DEIR/EA, the Federal Transit Administration will hold a public hearing to discuss the DEIR/EA. The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office will also hold a public comment period; we anticipate requesting an extended comment period to maximize opportunities for the public to participate.
* Throughout the public comment period, the full text of the DEIR/EA (and all appendices) will be available for download from the Green Line Extension website. It will also be available in printed form at the State Transportation Building and at public libraries and other municipal buildings throughout the project corridor. CD-ROMs of the full text of the document, as well as printed copies of the Executive Summary, will be available for all Advisory Group members and for anyone else who requests them. Upon request, we will make this document available in alternative formats.
* We will notify you about the specific dates for the hearing and the public comment period as soon as we can. These dates will also be posted to the project website and noticed in local newspapers.
As we have discussed, the DEIR/EA will propose a Full-Build Preferred Alternative of a Green Line Extension that travels from a relocated Lechmere Station to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway with a spur to Union Square. As we have also discussed, the decision to recommend that the Green Line be extended to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway – beyond the legally-binding requirement that it be extended to Medford Hillside (as represented by the proposed College Avenue station) – was predicated on the availability of funding to support the final segment of the project between Medford Hillside and Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway.
Because of the constraints placed on us by federal funding requirements and the economic crisis facing our state and nation, at this time we are not able to identify sufficient funding to support the construction of the Medford Hillside to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway segment within the 2014 timeframe mandated for the rest of the project by the State Implementation Plan. However, we want to be clear that this does not diminish our support for the Mystic Valley Parkway/Route 16 segment. The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization has voted to ‘flex’ funding dedicated for highway construction to instead fund the construction of the Medford Hillside to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway segment. This decision will allow that portion of the Extension to be constructed shortly after the remainder of the project has been completed.
Accordingly, the DEIR/EA will propose to complete the Green Line Extension in a phased approach, in which Phase I will consist of the legally-mandated segment from a relocated Lechmere Station to College Avenue with a spur to Union Square and Phase II will then extend the Green Line from College Avenue to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway.
Please note that the DEIR/EA that will be submitted in August will include analysis for the entirety of the Full-Build Preferred Alternative (from a relocated Lechmere Station to Route 16/Mystic Valley Parkway). This submission will allow EOT to receive environmental approval for the full scope of the project, thereby enabling us to proceed with the two-phased construction approach described here without needing to seek additional environmental approval in the future.
The Patrick Administration remains deeply committed to the entirety of the Green Line Extension Project. Following the filing of the DEIR/EA in the next few months, EOT will continue with an aggressive project schedule in our efforts to meet the goal of bringing transformative public transit service to Somerville and Medford by 2014. Throughout all phases of the project, the passionate support of so many individuals and organizations has and will continue to keep the Green Line Extension project moving.
For more information on the project, please see www.mass.gov/greenlineextension. To contact the project team, please email Kate Fichter (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please share this message with others who may be interested.
Thank you for your interest in and support of the Green Line Extension project.
The Green Line Extension Project Team