Governor Deval Patrick said Friday that he is committed to seeing the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford completed by 2014, and announced several steps the state is taking to accelerate work on the project.
“The Green Line extension is an important project, and I’m here to affirm my 100 percent commitment to seeing that it gets built, and gets built while I am in office,” Patrick said at a news conference at Gilman Square in Somerville, one of the proposed station sites along the extension. “We will continue to identify every possible way to speed the project up, to do it quickly and smartly so that we can bring this service to all of the affected communities here in Somerville, in Cambridge and in Medford. Our goal is to beat the 2014 deadline.”
In late July, Patrick and Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen told area state legislators that the project completion date likely would be delayed until 2016 as the state applied for federal funding to cover part of the estimated $560 million cost of the project.
But Friday, Patrick said measures have already been taken to expedite work on the project. In announcing the awarding of the contract to perform the Draft Environmental Impact Report to the firm Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin (VHB) Patrick stated, “Their first task – their very first one – is to identify every strategy we can to expedite the permitting process and the regulatory process so we can get shovels in the ground.
“We’re looking at using design-build procurement methods and advancing certain construction elements during the environmental review process so that we get off the ground – or more to the point, in the ground – as fast as possible,” Patrick said.
Patrick cited two other measures for speeding up the project. He said that MassHighway had already complete the required aerial surveys, and that the state will provide the MBTA funding for the acquisition of additional Green Line cars that will be needed on the line. “The reason that’s important,” Patrick said, “is that it takes a long time to produce the custom cars needed for new lines. We want those cars ready to roll as soon as the tracks are laid.”
The Draft Environmental Impact Report will take approximately 18 months to complete. The process will be augmented by a Public Working Group of about 17 people who will “provide feedback, direction and oversight from the community.”
Medford’s representatives to the advisory group, appointed by Mayor Michael McGlynn, will be City Councilor Fred Dello Russo, Ken Krause, Carol Sharpton and Dr. William Wood.
The first meeting of the Public Working Group will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, at the Visiting Nurse Assisted Living Center, 259 Lowell Street in Somerville.
“I know you have been waiting a long time,” Patrick said at the press conference. “I want to be absolutely clear that my commitment to this is a personal one. And we need to get it done.”
In his remarks, Mayor McGlynn noted that he had been advocating for the Green Line extension project since 1974 when he was a member of the state legislature. He cited both improved public transportation and air quality as project benefits, and said he was looking forward to the Environmental Impact Report study in order for the community to make “educated and informed decisions” in order for the “best possible product” to result.
In addition to Mayor McGlynn and City Councilor Dello Russo, also attending the press conference were Senator Pat Jehlen, State Representative Paul Donato, City Councilor Robert Penta, and Daniel Glasser of State Representative Carl Sciortino’s office.