State environmental agency endorses Green Line extension

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In another step forward, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection gave its blessing to the revised list of transit pledges, includng the two Somerville Green Line extensions to West Medford and to Union Square. The target completion date is 2014. Keep reading for Boston Globe coverage.

State set to endorse 3 railway projects
Some quotes from the article appear below.
Also, if you want to read the state documents, you can find them on the DEP website.
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State environmental officials plan to announce today that they have endorsed a revised list of transit pledges to offset increased air pollution from the Big Dig, setting in motion three major projects that could change the way people travel in the Boston area.
Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection say the new list will double Boston’s air quality gains, reduce more air pollution for each dollar spent, and encourage transit-friendly residential and commercial development.
The revised list, which was proposed by transportation officials in May, continues to be hotly debated and is the focus of a lawsuit filed by environmental advocates, with a second suit being launched.
The environmental agency’s endorsement allows the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to extend Green Line service to both West Medford and to Union Square in Somerville by 2014; to add stations and improve service on the Fairmount commuter rail line by 2011; and to add at least 1,000 parking spaces at commuter rail stations in the Boston area by 2011.
“These three projects, and particularly the Fairmount and Green Line projects, are enormously powerful transit commitments,” said Douglas I. Foy, secretary of Commonwealth development. “We will do our best to get them on the ground immediately.”
The Department of Environmental Protection will hold public hearings next month and receive comments through Jan. 3 before making its decision official.
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State officials say they are committed to spending $770 million on the projects and said they are assured the projects will receive state and federal funding. In March, Governor Mitt Romney introduced a 20-year, $31 billion transportation plan under which the state takes over the construction costs of major MBTA projects.
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The largest of the planned projects would be the Green Line branches to Union Square in Somerville and to West Medford, which would be similar to the Green Line branches in Boston, Brookline, and Newton. At an estimated $559 million, it would be one of the largest MBTA expansions since the mid-1980s.
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“Simply put, this is a much better package than what was envisioned a decade and a half ago,” Transportation Secretary John Cogliano said in a press release. “Times and technology change, and these revised commitments reflect that fact. This proposal enhances transit options in the Boston metro area, while adhering to strict air quality standards.”
The Department of Environmental Protection report says, for instance, that the Red-Blue connector would cost nearly $264 million to build and would remove 16 kilograms per day of hydrocarbons from the air and 190 kilograms of carbon monoxide.
By comparison, the report says, the Green Line extension to West Medford and Union Square has a construction cost of $459 million, but would result in a far larger air pollution reduction of 83 kilograms per day of hydrocarbons and 1,016 kilograms per day of carbon monoxide.
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Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert W. Golledge Jr. said the list should not be viewed as final.
He said that if the state continues to face delays in the projects, new or revised projects could be required.