Davey: State is Committed to Green Line Extension
"This is an important project and one the state is committed to.” -Richard Davey, Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, on the Green Line Extension.
Despite Congressman Michael Capuano's prediction that the Green Line extension may never be completed, the Department of Transportation is sticking with its current approach, according to Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.
"This is an important project and one the state is committed to," Davey said in a written statement Monday. "We are moving forward with Phase 1 and look forward to continuing to work with the Congressman and the community.”
Capuano told the Somerville Board of Aldermen last week that the state doesn't have the $1 billion needed to fund the entire project and said Somerville should support a more affordable short-term alternative with fewer stops. Capuano said it was a "very real possibility" the extension project never happens at all.
"We've got to get realistic about this," Capuano said.
The congressman emphasized his commitment to the entire Green Line extension project, saying he believes it should eventually be built out to Route 16 in Medford. The realities of funding the project, though, call for short-, mid- and long-term solutions, he said.
That short-term solution would leave Medford - and many parts of Somerville - out of the plan, at least in the beginning.
Rather than extending the Green Line through Somerville to College Avenue at Boston Avenue in Medford with a total of seven new stops, Capuano said the extension should be shortened to two stops at Washington Street and Union Square in Somerville. A few commuter rail stops could be constructed in place of the other stops, he said.
Capuano predicted proposals for the short-term plan would come to the forefront in the next six months.
But the Department of Transportation has not considered any alternative plans, according to spokeswoman Sara Lavoie. No one from MassDOT was on-hand for last week's Somerville Aldermen meeting, so the department could not comment on Capuano's statements.
“We’ve been trying to get in touch with the congressman to fully understand the comments he made," Lavoie said.
Planners for MassDOT have broken the project into four phases, with the projected completion in 2018 or 2020. The first phase would include reconstructing rail bridges in Somerville and Medford. Phase 1 is expected to start in Fall 2012 and be completed in 2014. The project is mandated as part of a lawsuit settlement between the state and the Conservation Law Foundation regarding envirnomental impact of the Big Dig.
In March, the state agreed to a land-property rights swap that to obtain track for the extension valued at $30 million, but funding for much of the project is still up in the air.
During a meeting with the MBTA board Dec. 7, when concerns were raised over funding of the project Davey said as much as half could be picked up by the federal government. But in a letter to Capuano in November, Davey said the state was ready to move forward with the project without any assurances of Federal Funding.
"While we will continue to seek federal participation in the Green Line Extension project, we are prepared to fund the early phases entirely with funding to be provided by the Commonwealth - without certainty about future federal reimbursement - in order to fulfill our commitment to continue to move the project forward," Davey wrote.
That letter was in response to a letter Capuano wrote Davey Oct. 28. Capuano urged MassDOT to get as much of the project completed as possible was Deval Patrick was still governor.
"The most important thing we can do is get this project as far down the road as possible while Governor Patrick, an honorable man and great supporter of GLX, is in office," Capuano wrote.