||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Green Line (MBTA). (Discuss) Proposed since January 2013.|
The Green Line Extension (sometimes abbreviated as GLX) is an under-construction light rail line which will run through Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford in the north suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.
To settle a lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation to mitigate increased automobile emissions from the Big Dig, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to extend the Green Line from its present northern terminus at Lechmere to Medford Hillside. The extension would pass through Somerville and Medford, two suburbs currently underserved by the MBTA relative to their population densities, commercial importance, and proximity to Boston. The line would use two railroad rights-of-way that currently serve the Lowell Line (which also carries Amtrak's Downeaster) and the Fitchburg Line branches of MBTA Commuter Rail. The extension is projected to have a total weekday ridership of about 52,000. The Green Line would see an increase in boardings of 30,700, and the MBTA system would see between 7,000 and 8,000 new transit users.
The Green Line Extension is planned to have two branches, which will split just past a relocated Lechmere station. The Medford Branch, which will become an extension of the Green Line "E" Branch, will run along the Lowell Line right of way with stops at Brickbottom, Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square, and a terminus at College Avenue in Medford, on the edge of the Tufts University campus.
The original plans called for a further station, Route 16, at the Mystic Valley Parkway in West Medford, as well as an intermediate stop at Winthrop Street and Boston Avenue at the northern edge of the Tufts campus. The Winthrop Street stop was dropped from plans due to the proximity of other stations and neighborhood opposition, while the Route 16 station was placed on hold due to cost issues.
Stops are designed to be accessible by pedestrians and bikes or drop-off, but with no new parking.
The 2003 PMT (Program for Mass Transportation) estimated a cost of $375,000,000 for the Green Line Extension, a figure that presumed the Extension would reach West Medford (about 1,500 feet (460 m) further than the current plan) with an additional daily ridership of 8,420, with 3,540 of those diverted from non-transit modes. At 10% design, the Final Environmental Impact Report estimated a cost of $953.7 million (in "year of expenditure" dollars) for seven new stations and 24 new light rail vehicles.
The Green Line extension was first proposed in a 1945 report as a extension along the Lowell Line to Woburn; under that plan, the Green Line would have been converted to heavy rail metro rolling stock.
After decades of no action, the Extension project became active again after 2000. Potential station stops were announced in May 2008.
In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that the new service was expected to be operational in October 2015; interim air quality offset measures would need to be taken if the project misses its December 2014 deadline as expected. The Department of Transportation had previously announced that due to budget limitations, the portion from College Avenue to Route 16 would be a future second phase of the extension, not included in the current proposed project.
In August 2011, MassDOT announced that opening of the Extension would be postponed to Fall 2018 at the earliest. Completion of the Extension to College Avenue near Tufts University could be delayed to 2020, while the terminus at Mystic Valley Parkway remains deferred indefinitely. The stated reason for the delays was difficulties in land acquisition, plus implied concerns about cost controls and financing. Interim air-quality improvement measures will be necessary due to the project delays. Possibilities include extending Green Line branches to Lechmere, increased bus service in Somerville and Medford, and adding temporary or permanent commuter rail stops along the GLX corridor.
On June 11, 2012, the Federal Transit Administration approved the Extensions for entry into the Preliminary Engineering phase as part of the New Starts program. This approval was a necessary step in MassDOT's application for $557.06 million in New Starts funding.
In August 2012, the City of Somerville, MassDOT, and the MBTA reached a memorandum of agreement about the Union Square station. Through the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, the City will acquire $8 million worth of land for the station and grant the MBTA a permanent easement. In return, the MBTA and MassDOT will pay for cleanup costs at the site, begin construction by the spring of 2014, and open the station no later than early 2017. In October 2012, the Somerville Board of Aldermen approved the Union Square Redevelopment Plan and authorized an $8 million bond, including $6 million to purchase the land and $2 million for cleanup and station planning.
On July 16, 2012, the MBTA opened bid solicitations for Phase I construction elements. The work includes the $15.3 million reconstruction of bridges which will carry Green Line tracks over Medford Street in Somerville and Harvard Street in Medford, as well as the $3 million demolition of an MBTA facility at 21 Water Street in Cambridge.
A groundbreaking was held at the Medford Street bridge on December 11, 2012. A Notice to Proceed was issued to the contractor, Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., on January 31, 2013. Surveying began in February, with construction beginning in March and planned to last into 2014..
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