MBTA Green Line extension project finally underway

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — The long debated and delayed Green Line Extension project is finally underway!

Officials announced on Monday the release of a $225 million federal grant agreement for the MBTA's Green Line Extension (GLX) light rail project.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was joined by FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, Governor Charlie Baker, Congressman Mark Capuano, Congresswoman Katherine Clark and state and local officials to announce the release of the grant.

“The Green Line Extension project will improve mobility, access to jobs, schools and the quality of life for tens of thousands of passengers in the Boston area,” said Secretary Chao.

This is the second installment of funding for the GLX after the FTA signed a $996 million Full Funding Grant Agreement with the MBTA for the extension.

The $2.3 billion project will add about five miles of Green Line track and seven new stations through Cambridge, Somerville and Medford, the largest MBTA expansion in years.

"One is a rebuilt Lechmere station and then 5 new stations in Somerville with the 6th being on the Medford/Somerville border at College Avenue at Tufts," said MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

The project also includes the replacement or rehabilitation of eight bridges and a new pedestrian/bike path.

“DOT is proud to partner with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and MBTA to extend safe public transportation to the 75,000 residents who live along the Green Line extension, which will spur development and bring added value to the corridor,” said FTA Acting Administrator Williams. “The leadership at the state and MBTA should be commended for making the necessary decisions to ensure this project opens on time and within budget.”

The GLX is expected to generate approximately 40,000 new transit trips a day, improving access to jobs and opportunities in Boston as well as the communities of Somerville and Medford, home to Tufts University.

Authorities predict the projected line will open in January 2022.

For those involved in the project, this day has been a long time coming.

In 2015, Boston 25 News reported project overruns hit a billion dollars, almost putting an end to the extension.

“Costs were brought under control so the project is now progressing, on-time and within the approved budget," said Secretary Chao.

Transportation Secretary Chao officially announced the extension secured the remaining $225 million in federal funds. Cambridge and Somerville will together contribute $75 million.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone believes this is an investment that will pay off.

“The Green Line extension will add more than 3 billion dollars in new economic activity the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of the next two decades," said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone.

Boston 25 News was there in March when the first of 24 new Green Line cars arrived in the state for testing.

Secretary Pollack said those will be put to use soon.

'"Folks will actually start to see the new cars in service next year on the regular line, so that's the next thing people will probably see," said Pollack.