This project has a long history of delays and broken promises. In December, 2004, before I was even sworn into office, I joined hundreds of residents in fighting plans by the prior administration to back out on the green line project altogether. Shortly thereafter, the administration promised the project was still a priority, and restated its commitment to the project.
Since that time, the legislative delegation for Medford and Somerville has continually met with staff in the Executive Office of Transportation. We persisted in demanding information, timelines, funding plans, and benchmarks to be monitored and adhered to. I want to share a few highlights from our efforts.
In February, 2006, I and members of the delegation met with members of the previous administration. We were explicitly told we were still on track for a 2011 completion date. We were told the consultant for the environmental impact review was âjust about to be hired.’ And we were told the funding would come from the Commonwealth’s capitol money, specifically a transportation bond bill to be filed in 2006.
Fast forward several months, to the fall of 2006. After lawsuits, legal agreements signed, project enhancements agreed to, we were assured of a 2014 completion date. We were told the consultant for the environmental impact study was âjust about to be hired.’ And again, we were told a transportation bond bill would be the funding source, to be filed in the near future.
Fast forward to a new administration. In April 2007, our delegation was given for the first time a clear timeline, at our request, that showed key project benchmarks, reflecting the 2014 deadline. We were told the consultant would be hired by early summer. And we were told that an emergency bond bill would cover the initial review period, with a full transportation bond bill filed afterwards that would cover the remaining costs.
Just this past July, 2007, the draft Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) was filed. It noted the original 2011 deadline, since the revision to 2014 has not yet been approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. It specifically cites the âGeneral Courtâ as the funding source.
In August, we were told there was a change in policy. We were told Federal funding was going to be pursued. We were told the project would be delayed to a 2016 completion. We were given a new timeline, with benchmarks, reflecting the delay. And yes, we were told the consultant was âjust about to be hired.’
I share this timeline with you to make a point. Our communities have been given a lot of promises. Not just promises, but the administration has made legally binding commitments through our courts and through our federal agencies.
Governor Patrick, Secretary Cohen, and their staff have made good faith efforts to meet with us and to keep us informed. They have committed to working with us to reduce the delay and speed up the project as much as possible. I appreciate their efforts.
Nevertheless, the history of this project is full of assurances. What we need now is action. I as an elected representative, and our many residents who have waited far too long, have a responsibility to hold the administration accountable. And we will continue to do just that.
I expect the Commonwealth to uphold its legal and ethical obligations to Medford and Somerville. Nothing short of that is acceptable.