Groundbreaking for Phase I construction of the Green Line Extension (GLX), and the hiring of a new team to complete engineering and design work are among the milestones anticipated for the project this fall, according to a report released this month by MassDOT and the MBTA.
Each July, MassDOT is required to submit to the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) an Annual Status Report on the transit projects that the state committed to build as a condition of DEP approving the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel highway project (a k a the Big Dig). The Green Line Extension to Somerville and Medford is one of two of those transit commitments that remain unfinished; the other is improvements to the Fairmount commuter rail line.
As anticipated in the Annual Status Report, dated July 2, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) informed MassDOT on July 6 that the GLX had cleared all federal-level environmental reviews, allowed Phase I of the project to go out to bid. That work will entail the widening of two rail bridges, one in Medford and one in Somerville, to accommodate the addition of Green Line tracks, and demolition of an MBTA tire storage building in Cambridge, near the site of the relocated Lechmere Station. Bids on the Phase I work are due on August 21.
In June, FTA had given the MBTA approval for the GLX project to enter Preliminary Engineering, and late that month a new consultant team was selected to complete Advanced Preliminary Engineering and Final Design of the project. Approval of the contract by the MBTA board of directors is expected in September.
To this point, the current consultant team led by HDR/Gilbane has been performing work on Advanced Conceptual Design, including for bridges and stations, and development of project phasing and sequencing plans, among other project elements. HDR/Gilbane, also the project management consultant, is under contract to continue its work through August 2013.
Other GLX milestones anticipated this summer/fall are:
+ Approval by the State Inspector General of a Construction Manager/General Contractor project delivery method, which GLX officials submit will be faster and more efficient than a traditional Design/Bid/Build approach. The use of CM/GC on the GLX was approved by the state legislature and by the governor in June.
+ MBTA board approval of a contract with the company chosen to supply the 24 new Green Line vehicles that will support the extension.
+ Acceleration of the real estate acquisition process, where property is needed
While clarity is growing around many the details of constructing the Green Line Extension, the Annual Report noted that much work remains to be done with regard to financing it. The state legislature has authorized funds for about half of the $1.3 billion project in Transportation Bond Bills, with MassDOT intending to apply for federal funding to cover the balance of the cost.
But while the FTA has declared that the GLX is eligible to apply for federal funding through the competitive New Starts program, the state must present a funding mechanism for the MBTA that would solve the agency’s annual structural deficit to merit serious consideration. In its application to the FTA for Preliminary Engineering approval, MassDOT identified some hypothetical funding solutions for the MBTA. But in the Annual Report, it asserted: “Massachusetts must move from hypothetical proposals to concrete steps for a long-term fix for the MBTA. Without this progress, it is virtually certain the FTA will decline providing financial assistance to the project.”
The Annual Status Report is available on the MassDOT website.
Public comments are invited, with a submission deadline of Thursday, September 13. In addition, on Thursday, September 6, MassDEP will hold two sessions for the public to submit oral testimony. These will take place at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the MassDEP office, One Winter Street, Boston.
Written testimony must be submitted to:
Kate Fichter (email@example.com)
MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning
Room 4150, Ten Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Jerome Grafe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MassDEP Bureau of Waste Prevention
One Winter Street
Boston, MA 02018
– Ken Krause, MGNA