MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Information about our green line extension.

Category: Advisory Committee Notes

GLX Working Group meeting notes for Feb. 23

24 February, 2015 (12:33) | Advisory Committee Notes, News | By: Editor

Here are some notes from the Green Line Extension Working Group meeting on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, at the Center for the Arts and the Armory in Somerville:

Project Overview and Updates – Karen Arpino-Shaffer, HDR Gilbane
The full funding grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration was signed in December, which will provide $996 million in federal funds for the project.

In Spring 2015, work will commence for Contract 4 – construction of the Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations, and interlocking and retaining wall work around College Avenue Station.

In Fall 2015, work will commence for Contract 5 – construction of the stations at Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue.

Station Design Update – Randy Henke, AECOM/HNTB
The 90% design plans will be submitted on March 6 for the Gilman Square, Lowell Street and Ball Square stations. Station footprints have been established and work is continuing on selection of materials, finishes, and other details. The 100% designs for these three stations are due on June 1. (The 100% design plans for the Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations were submitted in November 2014.)

Gilman Station – Few significant changes. The doors to the entrance/exit at the Community Path have been reconfigured to improve safety and accessibility and reduce potential conflicts with path users.

Lowell Street Station – Few significant changes. The area in front of the station has been reconfigured to create more of a gathering space and improve accessibility.

Ball Square Station – The head house has been narrowed by about 25 feet. The path from the top of the Broadway Bridge to the station has been rerouted and shortened. The traction power substation size has been reduced. The bicycle storage cage has been moved and expanded. There is now more land available for potential transit-oriented development at the station.

College Avenue Station – The 90% design plans will not be submitted with the other three stations on March 6. The project team is continuing to meet weekly with Tufts University about its desire to construct a building behind and partially on top of the station, which it informed the MBTA of last August. The MBTA and Tufts have signed a memorandum of understanding that “commits to a process of working together, with the city, with the neighborhood,” with regard to the proposed Tufts building. The MOA also states that the Tufts building must not delay the scheduled opening of the station or increase its budget. “That station will open on time no matter what Tufts decides to do,” Arpino-Shaffer said.

The introduction of the future Tufts building will likely change the location of the new right-turn lane from College Avenue to Boston Avenue (putting three lanes on the College Avenue bridge on the same side of the large MWRA water pipe, rather than two lanes on one side and the turn-lane on the other side, as previously proposed) and also re-routing the path from the Burget Avenue neighborhood to the station.

Tufts has been meeting with City of Medford officials and station neighbors to discuss its building proposal. The project team and Tufts intend to have a joint public meeting  with the city and neighbors with a presentation on the revised station design once it has become more definitive.

Construction Update – Chris Hersey, WSK
Steel has been ordered for the new rail bridge at Washington Street; pre-construction surveying at Washington Street is about 75% to 80% complete.

A permanent construction office has opened at 200 Innerbelt Road.

Test pits are being dug at Broadway Bridge and at School Street, where temporary utility bridges will be built, and at Medford Street (near Somerville High School). A traffic management zone is in place on the Broadway Bridge, as well as a drill rig. The Broadway Bridge steel is being fabricated.

Soil sampling, classification and removal is taking place throughout the project; also groundwater testing. Trash clean-up/removal and grubbing is taking place in the Red Bridge area and other project areas to prepare for construction.

Grand Junction drill rig setup is about 60% complete.

In Cambridge, early drainage work and haul road creation is about to begin in earnest. Drainage work plans also are being finalized near Boston Sand & Gravel.

Determination of station names is likely to be made by the MBTA in the next few months. For example, Washington Street Station will have a different name because a Washington Street Station already exists on the Green Line.

Upcoming Meetings
Medford/College Avenue  – March/April
Washington Street/Union Square Stations – April
Lechmere Station – April
Community Path – March/April
Lowell Street/Gilman Square Station Design – May
Ball Square/College Avenue Station Design – May
Working Group – TBD

– Ken Krause
Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

GLX Working Group meeting notes from Oct. 2

3 October, 2014 (19:39) | Advisory Committee Notes, News | By: Editor

Here are some highlights of the meeting of the Green Line Extension (GLX) Design Working Group/Construction Working Group held Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville:


Andrew Brennan, Director of Environmental Affairs for the MBTA, gave a presentation demonstrating how the GLX is a major part of the MBTA’s sustainability program and also MassDOT’s GreenDOT initiative, one of whose goals is to triple the number of transit, bicycling and walking trips statewide by 2030. Brennan noted that extending mass transit service into areas like Somerville helps sustain densely populated urban developments by making them more accessible to people without having to drive (44% of Somerville households do not have access to a car, he noted). The GLX stations further discourages driving by offering only 240 parking spaces for cars at the seven new stations, compared to 1,113 parking spaces for bicycles.

Water and water management are major issues for the GLX, especially since much of the extension will be built below grade level in a “cut” where commuter rail lines currently run and flooding sometimes is a problem due to antiquated draining systems. Water management concern is heightened due to the anticipated impacts of climate change and the likelihood of more severe and more frequent rain events.

To help prevent flooding, each GLX station platform will have a rain storage area underneath it to hold stormwater during a rain event for released late

To reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, a green roof is being considered for the Green Line maintenance facility, and the MBTA also is exploring the feasibility of installing a “blue roof” that would allow rain water to be captured for use washing Green Line vehicles

Other sustainability measures that are part of the GLX include:

+ Repurposing granite blocks and existing viaduct material into the station designs

+ Recycling 75% of demolition debris

+ Reusing soil removed in excavation, preferably at nearby construction sites such as North Point

+ Use of low-toxic, sustainable materials in all elements of the design

+ Station designs focus on energy management efficiency including ample amounts of glass to allow in natural light, and high-efficiency mechanical equipment (the MBTA is the largest consumer of electricity in Massachusetts)

+ Designing extra protection of the power delivery system from catastrophic rain events/flooding

+ Use of hardy, native plants in landscaping

+ Utilizing the Envision system guidelines which rate and certify public works projects for sustainability (similar to LEED for private development)

+ Including the design and construction of the Community Path, which complements the GLX and serves as  “bicycle and pedestrian highway” through Somerville, providing non-car access to municipal buildings, schools, shopping and dining areas, parks, and houses of worship

Brennan noted that sustainability is an important part of the MBTA’s application for federal funding for the project, which is to be submitted soon and decided upon by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) over the winter.

Responding to a question about the potential for solar panels on station roofs, Brennan said opportunities were limited due to small station roof surfaces, and poor economics. He noted that as a tax-exempt entity, the MBTA is not eligible for the tax credits and other such incentives that help make solar projects more financially viable. However, there may be opportunities for an arrangement to be made with a private company to erect a solar power generation facility on a GLX station ¬– Lechmere being the most conducive – as was done at the Wonderland MBTA station, with the MBTA buying back the power from a third party.


Mike McBride of HDR/Gilbane, co-program manager, reported that a Notice to Proceed was given today for the start of early construction work on Phase 2 (Lechmere Station to Washington Station) and Phase 2A (Lechmere Station to Union Square). Early construction activity includes surveying, soil testing, utility relocation, Millers River drainage improvements, and procurement of long lead items such as bridge steel, special track work, and signal and electrical equipment. A notice to proceed on the remaining Phase 2/2A work is expected in the spring, pending the receipt of a Full Funding Grant Agreement from the FTA. the FFGA is undergoing final review and will be submitted soon.

Additional construction schedule milestones presented were:

+ Start of construction of commuter rail track interlocking at Tufts/College Avenue: March 2015

+ Start of Phase 4 construction (Lowell Street, Gilman Square, Ball Square and College Avenue stations): November 2015

+ Vehicle maintenance facility construction (Phase 3): February 2016 to January 2019

+ Opening of Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations: December 2017

+ Opening of Phase 4 stations: Summer 2020


Randy Henke of AECOM/HNTB reported that the 90% designs of the Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations are under review and that 100% designs are due for submittal on Nov. 21, 2014.

The designs of the Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue stations currently are at 60%; the schedule calls for 90% design to be reached in February 2015 and 100% design in March 2015.

Henke announced that in response to suggestions from the community, two locations for “bulb-outs” on either side of the Community Path between Washington Street and Lechmere Station have been identified. Designed as places to rest, these areas would be approximately 15 to 18 feet long and 7 feet wide, allowing for which would allow for a bench.


Robert Chihade, Director of Real Property at Tufts University, gave a brief overview of a conceptual plan for an academic building that Tufts is considering building on the site of a maintenance complex behind College Avenue Station. The building would partially be built in the station air rights and could potentially feature a pedestrian walkway above Boston Avenue. The conceptual plan also would allow for a direct, at-grade path from Burget Avenue to the station plaza, rather than current proposal: an elevated path that curves down toward the station along a new retaining wall. Tufts also is proposing that the right-turn lane from College Avenue to Boston Avenue, which is part of the current plan, be eliminated to allow for a larger station plaza, and that the right-turn lane be added as one of three lanes on the existing College Avenue bridge.


A Working Group member asked for details on the recent project cost estimate increase from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion. Andrew Brennan explained that the lower figure is the one the MBTA anticipates the project to cost if it is completed on time, as expected; the larger figure includes $300 million that the FTA requested the MBTA set aside as a contingency to cover potential costs of a completion delay of up to one year.  The FTA also requested the MBTA use the $1.9 billion cost estimate in its full funding grant application, half of which the FTA would match if it approves the application.

Answering a follow-up question about how the project cost previously escalated from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion, Mary Ainsley, Senior Director of Design and Construction at the MBTA, cited many factors, including:

+ Inclusion of the design and construction of the Community Path from Lowell Street Station in Somerville to Water Street in Cambridge, which includes design and construction of an elevated half-mile viaduct between Washington Street Station and Lechmere Station

+ An increase in the number of utility conflicts from 220 when design work started to now more than 500

+ Additional design and construction work for the Millers River drainage system from Washington Street Station to the Charles River outfall, addressing longstanding regional draining issues

+ Additional environmental remediation at Washington Street Station due to the discovery of a contaminated plume in 2013

+ Lengthening the platforms at Lechmere Station and other key locations to accommodate future four-car Green Line cars

+ Deeper foundation requirements and new designs for viaduct piers due to information provided from additional geotechnical boring

+ Newly quantified real estate acquisition and business relocation costs related to the maintenance facility location


Tuesday, October 28: Lechmere Station meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St., East Cambridge

Thursday, November 6: Union Square and Washington Street stations meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Somerville Holiday Inn, 30 Washington St.

Community Path meeting: Fall 2015

January 2015: Design Working Group meeting

– Ken Krause, Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

GLX Design Working Group presentation posted

7 December, 2012 (17:22) | Advisory Committee Notes, News | By: Editor

The PowerPoint presentation from the November 15 meeting of the Green Line Extension Design Working Group is now available on the project website.

The presentation includes an update on the project status, background on the new consultant design team members, updates on the construction schedule and methodology, and the latest station design images, including for the relocated Lechmere Station as shown above.