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MBTA Green Line Expansion continues with new project manager

John Dalton has been hired as the new manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line Extension Project. PHOTO BY NATALIE CARROLL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
John Dalton has been hired as the new manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line Extension Project. PHOTO BY NATALIE CARROLL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority hired former Chicago Transit Authority manager John Dalton as the project manager of the $2.3 billion Green Line Extension Project, according to a Monday press release.

MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve said in the release that acquiring capital for project funding is essential to improve services, and that it would be well-executed under Dalton’s lead.

“John’s experience with large and complex public transit projects is exactly what is needed to drive the Green Line Extension forward,” Shortsleeve said in the release. “He brings a wealth of technical knowledge as well as familiarity with federal funding processes and stakeholder engagement.”

Dalton’s hiring was decided by the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board, the release stated.

FCMB Chair Joseph Aiello said in the release that the expansion project needs to be economical yet prime in quality.

“This $2.3 billion project must absolutely stay on budget,” Aiello said in the release. “It is being built in one of the most complex environments one could imagine in a number of dense communities. This project needs a ‘best in class’ leader to drive the project to a successful outcome and with John Dalton we have that successful project lead.”

The expansion plan envisions new transit service in Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford, according to an MBTA report published in May. Existing Commuter Rail tracks would relocate, the report stated, and 4.3 miles of new Green Line tracks and systems would be constructed.

Eugene Benson, a city planning and urban affairs professor at Boston University, said the Green Line expansion is imperative to cater to the transit needs of Boston residents.

“The Green Line is an essential part of the transit system, but it needs work. It’s too crowded in places, it moves too slowly in places and it can be made better,” Benson said. “It’s never going to be great because of the infrastructure and where it runs, but it can be better than it is.”

Under the new plan, Lechmere Station would be relocated, and six new stations would be created, such as Union Square, College Avenue, Ball Square, Lowell Street, Gilman Square and Washington Street, according to the report.

A redesigned Green Line would include modifications to the stations, vehicle maintenance facility, viaducts and bridges, power/signal systems and the Community Path. However, the station locations, platform size and functionality remain unchanged under the redesign program, according to the report.

The expansion, which began in 2013, will proceed after the MBTA submits a proposal of the redesigned project to the Federal Transit Administration for review and approval, the report stated.

After resources are planned and gathered, the construction process will be initiated, taking approximately 43 to 47 months, according to the report.

Each month of delay to the plan, the report stated, would cause an addition of approximately $1.6 million.

Boston residents said they await the expansion of the Green Line as long as it stays within the projected budget.

Lydia Chevalier, 26, of Kenmore, said Green Line trains are known to be slow, and that she experiences inconvenience when she rides them.

“I find it vaguely frustrating,” she said. “I really like the idea of an expansion. They have a sizable budget, and if they can manage to get it done, I think the people of Boston would be quite pleased.”

Joe Ross, 36, of Jamaica Plain, said having reliable public transportation in a cold weather is essential, and that the Green Line should be improved to cater to that need.

“I definitely think it’ll enhance people’s experience on the T,” he said. “The train will move faster, and considering that it has such a high budget, I think the system will improve drastically.”

Adam Harrington, 25, of Allston, said he has not experienced major problems with the Green Line, but expanding it would bring benefits to Boston residents.

“I mean, I only take it once a day, but I don’t think there are any problems with it,” he said. “It’s a great thing. It certainly couldn’t hurt.”

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