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Green Line extension to cost almost $2 billion

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line will be expanded by 4.5 miles from Cambridge to Medford and will cost nearly $2 billion. PHOTO BY MIKE DESOCIO/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line will be expanded by 4.5 miles from Cambridge to Medford and will cost nearly $2 billion. PHOTO BY MIKE DESOCIO/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The cost of a 4.5-mile green line train extension from Cambridge to Medford has increased from $1.4 billion to nearly $2 billion, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Rich Davey announced Friday.

“The $1.992 billion budget includes a 30 percent cost contingency for the entire project, but we feel confident that the actual cost will be closer to $1.6 billion when construction work is completed,” said Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo in an email.

The extension will create about 600 jobs when the project is completed in 2021, according to the MBTA’s website.

Pesaturo said a number of changes to the original project plan and design caused the budget increase.

The 4.5-mile extension is expected to increase ridership on the Green Line, another factor that led to the budget increase. As a result, the MBTA will lengthen platforms to accommodate longer, four-car trains, he said.

Boston residents will not be held accountable for the increased costs of the extension, Pesaturo said.

“The MBTA anticipates 50 [percent] of total funding will be secured through a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, and the remaining 50 [percent] by MassDOT [Department of Transportation],” he said. “The project’s budget will have no impact on city of Boston’s annual MBTA assessment.”

The extension will bring significant benefits to Boston residents and visitors in some of the city’s most densely populated areas, Pesaturo said, and will open up cross-regional and inter-community transit.

He said the project will also promote a more sustainable transit system in Boston.

“It will address longstanding transportation inequities, result in fewer automobiles on local roads and help combat greenhouse gas emissions and other components of air pollution,” he said. “The extension will support municipal plans for sustainable growth and development and provide residents of environmental justice communities with faster rides to work and other destinations.”

Several Boston residents said they were unsure if the budget increase would make the project worthwhile.

“It’s important to try to take as many cars as possible off the road both in terms of environmental issues and also in terms of making living in Boston a little better for everybody,” said Brendan Bisson, 29, of Allston.

Bisson said the revenue the MBTA generates should eventually even out the costs of expanding the Green Line.

“Expanding the Green Line should help people get around a little better,” he said. “I don’t think it’s super critical to do, and I’ve lived in places where it’s more critical. Boston seems to have a good sense of public transportation and everybody’s needs.”

Adam Znideric, 28, of Dorchester, said he was not surprised that the price of the construction increased.

“I come from England, and we had a similar experience when they did construction on the railways. The costs kept going up,” he said. “I don’t think this new expansion will reduce traffic though, unless the MBTA reduces the T fares.”

Mallory Root, 28, of Brighton, said the subway system in Boston has long needed an update.

“I’m from New York originally, and the subway system here is not up to par,” she said. “It needs to be expanded, but the cost is a little ridiculous. The expansion will make commutes easier for people, and hopefully, it will be easier for everyone to get around.”

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