Report Shows Viability of Green Line Extension, But More Savings Potential Remains Unexplored

Rafael Mares | @RafaelMares2

CLF is delighted to see that, after more than eight months of uncertainty, the Commonwealth finally has a reliable estimate of the cost of the Green Line Extension. We appreciate all the hard work Jack Wright and his team have put into this effort. At an estimated cost of about 2.3 billion dollars, and considering the nationally recognized benefits of the project, there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the Green Line Extension needs to go forward without any further delay, and we’re pleased that today the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and the MassDOT board voted to advance the project. 

We are disappointed, however, that not all potential cost savings measures were studied to their full extent. At the outset of this process, the members of the FMCB and MassDOT board made clear that they expected no stone be left unturned in the search for cost savings. Today’s report reveals that the review left one giant bolder unturned: no cost reduction estimate was generated for a commuter rail interruption on the Lowell and Fitchburg lines beyond just 25 weekends per year. The benefits of such commuter rail interruptions closure would be huge, in the range of nine figures.

Instead, the administration focused its efforts on pressuring municipalities to contribute tens of millions of dollars and asked the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to give up funding for the terminus of the GLX station at Route 16, which would leave that portion of the project unfunded. 

We therefore call on the FMCB and the MassDOT board to provide Jack Wright and his team with the opportunity to study these potential cost savings before the final decision or find another effective way to attain these numbers. The cost savings associated with two 60-day commuter rail interruptions, allowing Lowell Line commuters to switch to express buses at West Medford, for example, would provide sufficient funding for the Route 16 Station and a full Community Path extension, which as currently redesigned lets out on a highway. 

The path to a complete Green Line Extension is clear and affordable, and it’s time to see it through.

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