Feds Green Light Green Line Extension To Somerville and Medford

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/12/21/feds-green-light-green-line-extension-to-somerville-and-medford/

By Colin A. Young

BOSTON — The MBTA gave the team that will design and build the Green Line Extension the go-ahead to begin its work on Thursday, after the federal government released the first $100 million of funding for the trolley line extension.

The Federal Transit Administration on Thursday released $100 million of the roughly $1 billion in federal funding it has agreed to pay towards the $2.3 billion estimated total cost of the 4.7-mile light rail extension from Cambridge to Medford.

“Governor Charlie Baker’s commitment to responsibly manage taxpayer dollars in the building of this project was persuasive,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement. “The region can now look forward to an enhanced transportation network as the Green Line is extended to serve tens of thousands of area residents daily.”

With the federal funding beginning to flow, the MBTA on Thursday told the design-build team it selected that it can proceed. Construction is expected to begin in 2018. The T’s project manager, John Dalton, has said the project completion date is pegged at December 10, 2021, and the U.S. Department of Transportation said the extended line is scheduled to open in January 2022.

GLX Constructors, a joint venture of Fluor Enterprises Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Herzog Contracting Corporation, and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., was the winning bidder with a price offering of $954,618,600, including all six optional additions the MBTA had asked bidders to try to work into their price. The MBTA last month awarded GLX Constructors a contract of $1,082,118,600, including contingency costs.

“Thanks to the hard work of Secretary Pollack, her team, and the hugely successful collaborative work with Secretary Chao, our federal partners, and the cities of Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford, this important project is moving ahead,” Baker said in a statement. “The Green Line Extension project will provide important public transit service that will have a transformational impact for this region of the Commonwealth to accommodate riders and spur economic growth.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MBTA halted the trolley extension project in 2015 after its estimated costs had ballooned as much as 50 percent to $3 billion. During that freeze, consultants and T officials scaled down the scope of the project — platform canopies, some elevators, public art and connections to a community path were removed from the project. Those items were included on a list of six things the MBTA asked contractors to try to provide within the scope of their bid. Last year, MassDOT okayed a $2.289 billion version of the project.

“Today’s news is the latest positive turn for an important project that was under construction in 2012 but which was buried by cost overruns two years ago,” Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “This has been a long haul but we are where we need to be with today’s news the Federal Transit Administration acknowledges that the MBTA has the institutional capacity to oversee, manage, and deliver both needed State of Good Repair investments and GLX.”

Expected to serve 50,000 riders, the Green Line Extension will rebuild the northern terminus of the Green Line in East Cambridge and include another six trolley stations. Somerville and Cambridge, two cities which expect to benefit from the extension, have pitched in a total of $75 million — $50 million from Somerville and $25 million from Cambridge — to pay for the project.

“The importance of this news from the FTA cannot be overstated,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in a statement. “For everyone who has been fighting so hard over so many years to see the GLX become a reality, and for the region’s communities that stand to benefit both economically and environmentally from the project’s completion, today marks a key moment.”

Added U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, “This key infrastructure investment will go a long way towards bringing better transit options, jobs, and economic growth to Somerville, Medford, and all of Greater Boston.”

Dalton, the T’s project manager for GLX, said GLX Constructors will “advance full steam ahead” towards bringing Green Line service to Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville. “Now the real work begins,” he said in a statement.