Green Line extension to be done by 2014

By Anna Rice, News Correspondent

The extension of the D and E Green Line branches into Somerville and Medford, which has been in the making since 1990, will still be completed by its 2014 deadline or Massachusetts risks losing federal funding for transportation, according to members of the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP), a transportation advocacy group.
Bobby O’Neill, a senior communication studies major, lives in a Somerville apartment with friends. He said he usually takes the Red Line from Davis Square to Downtown Crossing, where he switches to the Orange Line to Ruggles to get to class.
‘If I could just take the Green Line the whole way ‘hellip;’ it would definitely be more convenient without having to switch lines,’ said O’Neill, who lives close to one of the proposed Green Line stops.
Completion of the project was part of the State Implementation Plan for air quality conformity, which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to when obtaining environmental permits for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in 1990. Expansion of the Green Line will improve regional air quality by encouraging the use of public transit and reducing traffic on I-93, according to the project’s website,
The Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) was required to file the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection by Dec. 1, which they failed to do, according to the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance’s website.
The project has been met with overwhelming approval by Somerville residents, said Wig Zamore, the founding member of STEP.
The project will extend existing Green Line service, which ends at Lechmere Station, through a main line to Medford and to Union Square in Somerville via a shorter line.
‘It will be a great improvement for Somerville to get the two green line branches,’ Zamore said.
While there is some existing MBTA service to the area, including a Red Line stop in Davis Square, Somerville, an Orange Line stop in Wellington, Medford and several bus routes, Zamore said a large percentage of residents who don’t own cars now rely on carpooling to get to work.
Zamore also noted that Somerville needs more public transit since it is the most densely populated city in Massachusetts. He said he hopes extending the Green Line will spur economic development and creation of more jobs in Somerville.
According to the 2000 US Census, the most recent data available, there are about 18,851 persons per square mile residing in Somerville. Boston has nearly 12,165 persons per square mile.
‘We expect that the Green Line stations in most places will be fairly modest,’ Zamore said. ‘I mean, we’re not looking for gold-plated stuff here. ‘hellip; We’re looking for really practical T stops that will hopefully last and be convenient for people to get to.’
Many students from nearby schools, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard College and Tufts University, reside in Somerville since it is relatively affordable compared to Boston neighborhoods, Zamore said.
‘ Zamore said he didn’t think Somerville residents would be opposed to an influx of students moving to the city, since its population is already so diverse.
‘The better the diversity, the better off we’re going to be here,’ he said.
The DEIR and other necessary environmental documents will be filed within the next two months so the project can move forward, said Steve Woelful, director of strategic planning at EOT.
EOT also canceled a Jan. 15 community meeting, at which they were supposed to reveal plans for the exact location of the last Green Line stop in Medford and their decision on whether or not a Green Line maintenance facility will be built in Somerville, Woelful said.
The meeting was canceled because EOT could not decide whether or not the Green Line terminus should be located at College Avenue near Tufts University or at Route 16 at the Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford, Woelful said. The meeting has been rescheduled for Feb. 3.
The project will cost an estimated $600 million, with half the money coming from the federal government and the rest from state funds, according to local media reports.
Woelful said the project would not cause fare increases on the MBTA.
Some Northeastern students said they support the project.
‘I think it would be good to extend it,’ said Jackie Russell, a sophomore architecture major.
Russell added that she knew a lot of people who would be interested in more affordable off-campus housing in Somerville and Medford.

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