Green Line Extension Back on Track

Rafael Mares | @RafaelMares2

CLF has been steadfast in our push for the Green Line extension (GLX), but making it a reality has been a rollercoaster ride with twists and turns that threatened to derail this critical public transportation project before it could get off the ground. However, last week, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) took a significant step to get the Green Line extension back on track, hiring the contractors who will design and build the line.

Barely two years ago, the project was in danger of not going forward at all. At the time, proposed costs were estimated at as much as one billion dollars over projections. As a result, state Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack declared that “[e]verything is on the table, and everything includes canceling the project.” While MBTA officials cited many potential reasons for the increased cost estimate, we urged the agency not to give up on this vital project and suggested a more competitive bidding process.

After redesigning and simplifying parts of the Green Line extension, the agency put the project out for new bids with much better results. The MBTA picked a contractor whose bid not only came in under the agency’s revised budget, but also allowed important components to be added back in that were originally eliminated to cut costs. These include additional elevators, public art, platform canopies, an enhanced vehicle maintenance facility, and an additional connection to and the construction of a full community path. Construction of the full community path along with the Green Line Extension was one of CLF’s top priorities for this bidding process.

What’s more, if nothing else goes wrong going forward, there is enough money left over to reinstate the funding previously set aside to extend to Route 16 in Medford, which has always been a major priority in CLF’s advocacy for the project.

Ultimately, moving forward the Green Line extension is good news for our economy, our climate, and our communities. Increased and equitable access to public transit makes it easier for us all to get to jobs and to school, helps us opt out of driving, and improves air quality all around. CLF has worked for more than a decade to see this project through, and we look forward to celebrating with our friends, neighbors, and partners when that first Green Line train pulls into one of the new Somerville and Medford stations.

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