The latest on the Green Line Extension

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I am constantly asked about the status of the Green Line Extension (GLX) through Somerville and how confident I am about it all happening on schedule. My typical answer is that Mayor Joe Curtatone is going to make it happen, come hell or high water — it’s his baby and will be his legacy. And if he ever runs for governor or even president (neither of which would surprise me), it will be a huge feather in his cap.

But if anyone wants another opinion on the subject, here’s the latest from The Globe:

MBTA officials said Monday they are concerned about keeping the $2.3 billion Green Line extension project on schedule after being told a key piece of it has fallen months behind.

John Dalton, who is overseeing the 4.7 mile extension, told the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s board that the overall project remains on time and that work crews can catch up before service on the route is scheduled to begin in late 2021.

“The fact that we are two years away from being done with this project means there is time to recover,” Dalton told reporters after the meeting.

But pressure is beginning to build. Work to relocate a set of existing commuter rail tracks that the new line will run alongside is now expected to creep into November — two months after it was originally scheduled, Dalton said. With winter approaching and construction spending expected to swell significantly over the next year, the details left board members uneasy.

“Count us as very worried,” said Joseph Aiello, chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board. He later told Dalton: “Throw everything you’ve got at it. I can’t tell you how important it is to get this project on schedule, under whatever means and methods you can.”

The Green Line extension, a massive undertaking funded by state and federal dollars, will bring service to Somerville and Medford. Roughly $165 million has been spent on construction so far, but that is expected to swell to $400 million in each of the next two years, officials have said.

The project is also a key part of Governor Charlie Baker’s plan for the T. As he announced an $18 billion transportation bond proposal last month — and ticked off projects on the Green Line — Baker called “rescuing” the extension plan the “most significant success of the past four years.”

Aiello on Monday pointed to both the $595 million that Baker carved out for the project in the bond bill and the work the administration did to realign the plan after its estimated costs ballooned to $3 billion.

“He [Baker] and we took a big risk . . . to get this project back on track. And we need to convince the Legislature that we are deserving of the recommendation the governor put in his transportation bill,” Aiello said.

Stephanie Pollack, Baker’s transportation secretary, said the administration expects the project to be completed on time and on budget, and she indicated the latest developments don’t appear to have upended that.

“As we sit here in August 2019, there should be time for recovery from those pressures” on the schedule, she told reporters.

Link to the full Boston Globe article here.

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