MBTA General Manager Richard Davey on Tuesday night affirmed the transit agency’s commitment to the Green Line Extension project, yet indicated that preliminary engineering work on the project will not start until early next year.
“I want everyone to know that the MBTA is committed to getting this project done,” Davey said in opening a Green Line informational meeting in Somerville, his first appearance at a Green Line project meeting since becoming GM six months ago. “This is our first light rail extension project in 25 years and a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We’re excited we’re going to be able to bring on new customers and serve our existing customers better.”
But while pledging to “deliver the project safely, on time and on budget,” Davey announced that he does not expect to present the contract for Green Line preliminary engineering/design and program/construction management services to the MassDOT board of directors for approval until January.
MassDOT was required to put the preliminary engineering contract out to bid after it failed to gain board approval to grant the work to the current project consulting team through a contract amendment. Interested consultants – some of whom were represented in the audience of about 100 at the Argenziano School Tuesday night – have until October 7 to submit Letters of Interest. Those deemed the highest qualified will then be requested to submit full proposals and participate in oral interviews with an MBTA/MassDOT screening committee, after which a selection will be made.
In the meantime, the existing consultant team, led by Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin (VHB), will continue assisting MassDOT with updating the project’s schematic design guidelines and facilitating some public meetings for the rest of the year. However, the station design workshops that were being planned for the fall have been postponed until winter, after the new consultant contract is awarded.
The project is beginning a transition from the MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning to the MBTA for final design and then construction. Thus, following a general overview Tuesday night by Project Manager Kate Fichter of MassDOT, Margaret Lackner, Deputy Director of the MBTA Design Department, gave her first Green Line public presentation, on the MBTA’s design goals. Under a general heading of “Being a Good Neighbor,” Lackner outlined six categories: Accessibility, Maintainability, Safety/Personal Security, Sustainability, and Integration with Neighborhood.
George Katsoufis, with architectural consultant Domenech, Hicks & Krockmalnic (DHK), followed with a more detailed presentation on station design considerations and highlighted areas where public input particularly will be sought.
Tuesday night’s meeting and presentations will be repeated on Wednesday night at Medford City Hall, 85 George P. Hassett Drive. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. with an “Introduction to the Green Line Extension” presentation. New material will be presented starting at 6:15 p.m., with a question-and-answer period following.