The following is a letter from Carrie Russell and Noah Chesnin of CLF…
We will pass up a major opportunity for cleaner air and regular transit service in neighborhoods in Medford, Somerville and Arlington if state officials don’t extend the Green Line to Route 16 in Medford Hillside. When the state makes a final decision on a Green Line terminus station, it should uphold the promise made to residents of these cities to reduce air pollution and extend public transportation by building the terminus station at Route 16 instead of stopping short at College Avenue.
Today, if travelers want to get to the Park Street T station in Boston from the intersection of Route 16 and Boston Avenue, the MBTA advises them to take the 80 Bus to Lechmere and then the E Train downtown. The MBTA Web site instructs residents to expect more than 50 minutes in travel time. With regular, dependable T service at Route 16, we can expect the same trip to downtown Boston would take less than half that time.
Currently, Medford Hillside residents and those in surrounding neighborhoods must travel almost two miles to reach the nearest rapid transit T stop in Davis Square. The Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance (MGNA) analyzed census data from 2000 and concluded that 9,116 residents of Medford, Somerville and Arlington live within a half-mile walk of the Route 16 station, a 10-minute walk from the proposed station. These residents come from a range of neighborhoods including a number of environmental justice communities. Extending service to Route 16 will provide affordable, regular rapid transit for these residents and improve the local air quality in their neighborhoods.
Dating back to 1990, the Conservation Law Foundation has fought hard to guarantee that Massachusetts lives up to its legally binding promise to extend public transportation so that residents in neighborhoods across the Greater Boston area have access to affordable, regular and environmentally responsible transit. As a part of the legal agreement to offset the air quality impacts from the $15 billion Big Dig, the state agreed to extend the Green Line to the Medford Hillside by 2014. The current decision before the state is: How far should the train go in order to meet air quality improvement requirements? The Conservation Law Foundation and a wide range of local elected officials, community groups, and residents believe that the answer is Route 16.
The distance from College Avenue (another terminus station location being discussed) to Route 16 is about .88 miles. By extending the Green Line just another .88 miles into Medford, more than 9,000 additional residents would have direct access to the Green Line. What may seem like a small distance, less than a mile, will actually greatly increase access to the T and improve local air quality as well as economic opportunity. Additionally, extending service all the way to Route 16 would provide all Medford Hillside residents with access to rapid transit, thereby fully living up to the state’s promise.
The extension of the Green Line to Medford and Somerville is moving forward but the state now faces a critical choice. The state runs the risk of failing to deliver the full benefits of this project if the tracks stop short at College Avenue rather than Route 16. Full extension of the Green Line will ensure this project is a success â attracting as many new riders as possible, greatly improving local air quality, and meeting the transportation needs of residents.
Carrie Russell is a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation specializing in transit. Noah Chesnin is a CLF program assistant. Learn more about CLF at www.clf.org.