Green Line environmental planning process initiated
In a much-desired sign of progress on the Green Line extensions, the State’s Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) has released an Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) for the project. The EOT filed this document with the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) unit of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA). This represents the beginning of the mandatory environmental planning process for this huge project. In the coming year (or years), the EOT will submit environmental impact reports to the EOEA until they are fully approved.
The EENF states that the project is slated to start in 2011 and wrap up in 2014, costing $550 million. It describes two extensions from a relocated Lechmere stop: one extension along the west side of the Lowell commuter rail line to the Medford Hillside section of Medford (ending at College Ave or Winthrop St, but surprisingly not farther), and another extension to the Union Square area along the north side of the Fitchburg rail line (rather than into the square itself, which would better serve the area). No parking would be provided at the unstaffed platform stations, which tentatively include the following: Winthrop St (possibly), College Ave, Broadway/Ball Square, Lowell St, Medford St/Gilman Square, Washington St, and Union Square.
Download the EENF (large 18MB PDF).
On Monday, October 16, 6-8 pm, there will be a public hearing about the environmental review and planning process at Somerville High School. Come support the Green Line in Somerville!
Map of currently proposed stations (exact locations to be determined):
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STATE SIGNALS PROGRESS ON GREEN LINE EXTENSION
By Jim O’Sullivan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, WEDNESDAY, OCT. 4, 2006..State transportation officials are moving forward with a long-awaited, and still far-off, expansion of the Green Line through Somerville into Medford, filing notice with the environmental officials this week.
The Executive Office of Transportation submitted its Expanded Environmental Notification Form to the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, nudging forward the planning of rail service expansion that communities north of Boston claim are long overdue.
According to the documents, the project is slated to start in 2011 and wrap up in 2014, and cost $550 million.
The statement reads, “The project would extend from the outer limit of the relocated Lechmere Station project along the Lowell commuter rail line to the Medford Hillside section of Medford and along the Fitchburg commuter rail line to the vicinity of Union Square in Somerville. In addition to these stations, EOT will also examine the feasibility of extending the line beyond Medford Hillside to a station to be located in the vicinity of Winthrop Street in Medford.”
Initially approved in 1990 as part of a mitigation agreement surrounding construction of the Big Dig, the Green Line extension and other projects have languished while the state questions their environmental and cost implications.
A spokeswoman from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, which oversees MEPA, said the process now calls for the secretary to accept the notification, followed by EOT submitting environmental impact reports until they meet the agency’s approval.
“It can take anywhere from a year to a number of years,” said spokeswoman Vanessa Gulati.
Environmental advocates and activists from Somerville and Medford have repeatedly denounced procedural delays, saying setbacks cause them to doubt the state’s commitment. The Conservation Law Foundation filed suit against the state, attempting to force the projects’ construction.
CLF President Phil Warburg said the state has still not allocated funding for other projects, such as new Orange Line cars and a connector between the Red and Blue rail lines, and has lagged in committing fully to the Fairmount Line proposed to run between Readville and South Station.
Asked if CLF was still suing the state, Warburg replied, “Oh, absolutely.”
Out of the 27 separate mitigation commitments associated with the Big Dig, 24 are either completed or underway, with the state spending more than $3 billion, said EOT spokesman Jon Carlisle, who called Warburg’s criticism “disingenuous.”