Green Line cost estimate suddenly jumps an insane amount; could project be in jeopardy?

  • Post category:Green Line

MBTA officials announced yesterday that the Green Line Extension might need $700 million to $1 billion more, shocking many. Why the huge jump? Good question. This project was already costing a lot more per mile than similar transit expansions across the country. Some say the problem is that the State chose to go with a more unusual contract/construction method called Construction Manager/General Contractor (overview), which was supposed to save money but likely isn’t. Some say the State should revisit their choice of WSK to conduct this work.

In any case, this is a huge gap and it’s not clear what happens next. The State could find money elsewhere or cut costs by simplifying station designs or even eliminating stations – or, worst case, try to cancel the entire project. A few things to keep in mind:

  • The State is still legally obligated to build the Green Line extension. They’d have a hard time canceling it.
  • If they try to mess with the current plan too much, they could jeopardize the $1 billion they’re getting in federal money. As you can imagine, no one wants to lose that.

Cross your fingers in the weeks ahead. This is a big deal.

Boston Globe: “Green Line extension could cost another $1 billion”

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the state must now consider several options to bridge the shortfall. “Everything is on the table, and everything includes canceling the project,” said Pollack. “But that’s not where we want to go.”

WBUR: “Ballooning Cost Throws Future Of Green Line Extension Into Question”

An early phase of building a new Lechmere Station, a spur to Union Square, and Washington Street Station in Somerville was estimated to cost $387 million this past winter when the Federal Transit Authority approved almost $1 billion in federal funding.

White Skanska Kiewit, which has been assigned construction of the project under a unique procurement process, now estimates construction of those first three stations to cost $898 million throwing into question the affordability of the plan to build a total of seven stations ending near Tufts University.

Boston Herald: “Green Line project could go $1B over budget”

“Everyone in the region is depending on this project,” Cambridge Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan said. “Not moving forward with it would endanger billions of dollars in economic development.”

Somerville Patch: “Budget Crisis Could Derail Green Line Extension Project”

View MBTA’s PowerPoint presentation to the Fiscal Control Board.