Somerville Journal: Green Line study and some money

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More good news on progress!
“MBTA study: We think you really want the Green Line, Somerville”
“First Sciortino salvo nets $100G for Green Line”

MBTA study: We think you really want the Green Line, Somerville
An MBTA study shows huge demand and strong environmental benefits for extending the Green Line through Somerville and into Medford.
The study projects building a Green Line Extension through Somerville will add 63,000 more riders a day to the train line and cut a large amount of pollution created by vehicle traffic.
The benefits of the project, compared to its cost, could qualify it for federal funding, said MBTA Planning Department Director Joe Cosgrove.
“The numbers kind of indicate it would be competitive for federal funding,” Cosgrove said.
The findings of the study, conducted by the MBTA and the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization, are significant in part because the state is currently accessing whether other transportation projects could provide equal or better benefits than extending the Green Line through Somerville.
“Given the results of the study, it would be ill-advised for the state [not to move forward with the Green Line Extension],” said Bill White, an alderman at large and member of an advisory committee studying the project. “The figures show that the project makes absolute sense.”
The MPO and MBTA studied the benefits and costs of several different Green Line extension plans, including train service through Somerville and into Medford; a train service to Medford with a rail spur stopping in Union Square; and an extension that would use a dedicated bus route into Medford with a train line extending into Union Square. Commuter rails were also considered.
MBTA consultant Mike McArdle said the costs of extending Green Line train service through Somerville into Medford, with a rail spur into Union Square, would cost about $438 million.
Without the rail spur into Union Square, the cost of the project would drop to $390 million. A third alternative of running a dedicated bus line through Somerville into Medford, with train service extended into Union Square, would cost $340 million.
In addition to 63,000 more people riding the Green Line every day, MPO representative Scott Peterson said Wednesday that extending the train line through Somerville to Medford would cut 64,500 miles worth of vehicle traffic a day.
Running a Green Line extension to Medford, with a branch into Union Square, would cut vehicle traffic by 52,800 miles a day, the study showed.
The study also shows strong environmental justice benefits to extending the Green Line through Somerville, as opposed to simply increasing bus service or adding commuter rail service. Environmental justice is a term used to describe benefits the project would provide to communities under-served by public transportation that have strong minority populations, such as most of Somerville.
Pollution such as organic compounds and carbon monoxide would also drop considerably by extending the train line to Medford and into Union Square, the study found.
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First Sciortino salvo nets $100G for Green Line
Using some State House tradition to his advantage, rookie State Rep. Carl Sciortino won $100,000 for the Green Line last week.
Sciortino used his first speech on the State House floor, known as a maiden speech, to advocate for the Green Line money.
Traditionally the maiden speech of a representative on the House floor is an occasion attended by every representative in the state. Once a speech is completed, the first-time speaker is congratulated by all of his or her peers.
Sciortino said it was a good opportunity to enlighten other state representatives about the need for the Green Line in Somerville.
“This funding is a small but critical step in bringing in the Green Line to our neighborhoods,” Sciortino said in a press release. “I prioritized this project in the budget process, and I am thrilled that House leadership heard my arguments.”
The money is only a fraction of the amount needed to complete an environmental impact study of the Green Line, but Sciortino said the approval of the money is a sign the state is moving the project forward.
City officials and citizens have been fighting a proposal by Gov. Willard Mitt Romney’s administration to consider alternatives to extending the Green Line into Somerville.
The environmental study for the Green Line could cost a anywhere from $1.5 million-$2 million. Although the entire amount wasn’t appropriated, Sciortino said the $100,000 earmarked in the House budget shows support for the project.
“Even if we can’t fully fund this, we’re going forward,” Sciortino said.