For over 20 years, Massachusetts transportation officials have been working on plans to extend the MBTA Green Line 4.7 miles up from its Lechmere terminus to Somerville and Medford, and last year won a $1 billion funding commitment from the federal government for the project.
But after the estimated total cost for building the line spiked from $2 billion to $3 billion, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors and the T’s new Fiscal and Management Control Board both voted unanimously Monday to oppose any increase in state funding for the project, and to have it redesigned under new management in hopes of reducing the cost.
Thousands of people across Somerville have longed for the better one-seat rapid-transit connection to Boston a Green Line extension would offer.
“It'd be amazing,’’ said Maria Manzhos of Somerville as she walked through Union Square with her son, Ari, Monday afternoon. “We actually bought a house here a year ago with the hope that, you know, we'll get the Green Line soon … It’d be easier to get downtown because now we have to either go to Harvard or Central Square’’ by bus, bicycle, or foot and take the Red Line in.
State transit overseers, however, are alarmed at the explosion in the pricetag and want to put pressure on mayors and developers who’d benefit from the project to come up with money for it by steps such as building and paying for stations.
“It’s a good investment for the commonwealth at $1 billion. But it's not a good investment at more than that amount of commonwealth dollars,’’ state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Monday afternoon. “There's a lot of work to do to bring the price down and find additional funds.’’
Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan, a member of the T control board, said: “All of us are committed to seeing this Green Line project happen, but it's committed within confines and guidelines.’’
State DOT board member Russell Gittlen, who’s the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) New England Area Director and Assistant Business Manager for Local 447, said, “Somerville, Medford, Cambridge – I keep hearing that you guys are going to put some skin in the game, and we're looking for that. We're looking for you to step up.’’
With videographer Daniel J. Ferrigan