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$45 Million Green Line Extension Design Contract Approved

Meeting in Somerville, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors approved a contract that will help the Green Line Extension apply for federal funding.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors, meeting in Somerville, authorized a $45 million contract for design of the Green Line Extension.

"This is actually beginning to put meat on the bone," said MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey after the vote, speaking about how the design effort will progress with the contract in place. "It's a great step forward for the project today," he said.

The contract, awarded to AECOM Technical Services, Inc. and HNTB Corporation, is for advanced preliminary and final design services on the Green Line Extension.

As part of the contract, the design team will prepare documents that will be used in the next stage of the state's application for federal funding. The project, expected to be completed by 2020, will extend the Green Line from Cambridge through Somerville to a terminal station in Medford.

In spring of 2012, the to the Federal Transit Administration's pipeline for New Starts funding, allowing it to enter the "preliminary engineering" phase. The contract authorized Wednesday will help the project apply—likely in August, 2013—for the "final design" phase of the New Starts process. After that, the project would need to move into the "full funding grant agreement" phase in order to receive federal dollars.

The state wants the New Starts program to pay for roughly $557 of the $1.3 billion project.

The biggest challenge to the Green Line Extension's effort to get federal funding is not the project itself, but the overall sorry state of the MBTA's finances, which is a major turnoff the Federal Transit Administration, Davey explained. The MBTA recently raised fares, altered service and received a large infusion of cash from the state to close a budget deficit, and the transit authority faces similar budget crunches next year and in the future. 

The Board of Directors voted 6-1 to approve the $45 million design contract. The lone dissenting vote was from Ferdinand Alvaro, who also talked about broader fiscal problems with the Massachusetts transportation system and the MBTA.

He said the Green Line Extension would put a strain on the MBTA's operating costs, and it seemed "imprudent" to authorize "these sums of money with so many question marks on the horizon" about the T's finances and the federal government's willingness to award funds.

Because the Board of Directors met at Somerville City Hall—it usually meets in downtown Boston—Somerville's mayor, Joseph Curtatone, introduced the meeting. 

Speaking in favor of the design contract, he said, "It's a vote that will have a tremendously positive impact, not just on Somerville, Cambridge and Medford, but on the commonwealth as a whole."

He said the Green Line Extension would spark economic development in the area that could lead to 8,000 jobs in Union Square and 12,000 jobs in the Inner Belt and Brickbottom neighborhoods of Somerville.

John C. September 15, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I was just wondering where they got the job numbers, since what the project will do will mostly benefit commuters to Boston. It may add some jobs, but I think 8000 and 12000 jobs is a pretty inflated number. The Green Line Extension will also add additional noise to those who reside along the tracks. Besides the commuter rail and freight trains, there will now be Green Line trains, that will be running much more frequently very close to residential homes. I have also been wondering about the money being spent to build it, when the MBTA already has financial problems.
raymay September 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Doesn't it also help anyone who lives in Boston and works in Medford/Somerville? These trains do go both ways. As for the additional noise, it's an electric train running parallel to an existing DIESEL RAILROAD so I sorta assume that people who live along the tracks already love trains, love noise, love diesel fumes or are for whatever reason unable to get it together to move somewhere else. I also think it's so thoughtful of folks to worry about the budget. Do you worry about the budget to repair roads, did you want to stop the Big Dig which in a way benefitted no one other than the business interests who built it and are situated next to the old elevated road. This will improve the quality of life for thousands of commuters a day, multiply that by the next fifty years to get a sense of the impact of this project. May it go all the way to Route 16.
Concerned Citizen September 20, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I think MBTA stations are a blight to the area. I tak the train sometimes - its never pleasant. Most stations have their share of beggars and persons' exposing themselves- ask any woman who travels the T on a regular basis. And niw for the list - Just drive by Oak Grove or Wellington and try to park and take the train. Number 1 - You have a shot in hell of getting a parking spot after 8 AM. So you need to take a bus "read more traffic" to get there. Number 2 There is barbed wire between it and the neighborhoods - 3 Kids from wherever carry their spray paint back and forth getting off to use the buildings next to the tracks as their "canvas". Don't believe it ? Take a ride from Oak Grove to Boston and count the "art" you see. 4 MBTA is no friend to Medford - they cut a couple of bus routes this year. They are lousy neighbors who keep the smelly, smokey early am bus running facilty over by Haines SQ which should have moved to the Wellington area years ago. 5 It also encourages a more transient population to move into the city - ok if that's what Medford wants to be. I am thinking car owning, house buying, tax paying people is what we want to attract here. Medford has more than its share of train and bus routes. Run it through Arlinton or Winchester instead.

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