MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Information about our green line extension.

Category: Advisory Committee Notes

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.

Utility lines force MBTA to revisit Ball Square station design

15 November, 2012 (23:16) | Advisory Committee Notes, News, Community Event | By: Editor

The MBTA Green Line Extension project team is working to modify the Ball Square station design in Medford to accommodate an unexpectedly problematic NStar electrical line.

At a meeting of the GLX Design Working Group Thursday night at Tufts University, Mary Ainsley, Director of Design and Construction for the MBTA, said the team needed to “revisit the headhouse location” at Ball Square due to the line, which crosses under the existing commuter rail tracks and must remain in place and accessible.

“At first when we designed the station, the electrical line seemed relatively easy to move, but it turned out to be something that absolutely cannot be moved, and [NStar] does not want station infrastructure built over it,” explained Karen Arpino-Shaffer, Deputy Program Manager for the GLX. Arpino-Shaffer, of Gilbane Co., noted that an issue with an MRWA line at Ball Square also needs to be resolved. “We have not changed the design yet,” she said, “but we are working with the utilities to figure out how to maintain a lot of the work that we’ve done with the community for this station, and how we can modify it to get around the utilities.”

Arpino-Shaffer said the team prefers to keep the headhouse on the Medford side of Broadway, where it currently is proposed, and that it was unclear whether additional property might be required to accommodate a modified design.

Here are some other highlights from Thursday night’s meeting:

- Completed advanced conceptual design
- Completed NEPA (federal environmental review) process
- Construction Manager/General Contractor procurement method approved by MBTA board; awaiting approval from Inspector General (expected “any day, any week”)
- Hired advanced preliminary engineering and final design team, a joint venture led by AECOM Technology Corp. and HNTB that began work in late September. The team is managed by Greg Yates, vice president at AECOM’s Boston office, who worked with Mary Ainsley on Silver Line Phase III planning.

- Greg Yates of AECOM introduced the new preliminary engineering and final design team, which includes 13 subconsultants. Yates said that of the 80 to100 full-time people who will work on this project, “79 to 99 of them live in the Boston area.” Yates added, “We thrilled to be part of a project as good as this and we’re also right in our back yards, so we have a tremendous vested interest.”
- Yates described AECOM as “probably the largest engineering services company in the world,” noting that AECOM is the No. 1 mass transit design firm according to Engineering News-Record, and that HNTB is ranked No. 4 [based on annual revenue].

- Gilman Square: The team is considering putting more of the headhouse infrastructure over the Green Line tracks so entrance could be easily made from either side, including up and over the commuter rail tracks.

- Lechmere: The headhouse is being relocated to the other side of East Street to allow the platform to be built large enough to accommodate future four-car Green Line trains, and to be closer to the pedestrian crossing to the mall and NorthPoint. Also, automated fare collection turnstiles are being added in an extended entrance to the headhouse. Work is also being done to improve pedestrian crossings, and accommodations for a Hubway bike-sharing station is being considered.

- College Avenue, Lowell Street, Washington Street: No significant changes since spring.

- Union Square: No changes, but considering options for a second headhouse entrance.

- Ball Square: See above.

- A Value Engineering Workshop was held last week in which a team of outside engineers reviews the project and tries to identify ways to lower costs. A list of 82 recommendations were presented to the project team, which is reviewing them and preparing a response to present to the MBTA Value Engineering Committee.

- Phase I construction is expected to being within the next two months, pending official awarding of the contract to the low bidder, Barletta Heavy Construction.
- The MBTA is committed to getting to 60% design by next September (current design is at 30%)
- The MBTA intends to select and award the contract for the Construction Manager/General Contractor in Spring 201
- The construction schedule still calls for opening of the new Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations in late 2016/early 2017 (with construction starting in mid-2014), with the opening of the Gilman Street, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue stations in June 2019.

- The MBTA is continuing to prepare its final submission for federal New Starts funding for the project in 2013. However, Ainsley reiterated that it is imperative for the state legislature to find a solution to the MBTA’s current underfinancing early next year, noting that New Starts funding for Silver Line Phase III was denied due to the MBTA’s financial straits.

- The MBTA is appealing a decision by the state Building Inspector regarding how emergency egress is provided at College Avenue, Ball Square, Lowell Street and Union Square stations.
- The MBTA is looking for transit-accessible office space to house the entire project team
under one roof from April 1, 2013 through the duration of the project. A total of 16,000 to 20,000 square feet is desired. Somerville resident Wig Zamore suggested the MBTA look at the former Priscilla’s of Boston dress factory that is for rent across from Sullivan Station.

- Tuesday, December 11: Somerville Community Path design update meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Somerville Holiday Inn, 30 Washington Street, Somerville.

- Ken Krause, Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance