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Green line to Somerville/Medford

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Green line extension may bring Somerville benefits from rail lines

Plans include stops at Assembly Square, Union Square

Tufts Daily Article

Ford Adams/Tufts Daily

The MBTA is reviewing proposals to extend the Green Line to Somerville, but budget constraints make it unlikely that the project will be started in the near future.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

by Keith Barry

Daily Editorial Board

Somerville and Medford may receive more transit service if a Green Line train extension first proposed in 1984 becomes a reality.

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After years of putting off a Green Line extension to concentrate on reopening the commuter rail south of Boston and putting the existing Green Line track underground, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has taken a step forward in bringing more rail stops to the towns surrounding Tufts.

In December, the MBTA awarded a feasibility study for the extension of the Green Line to West Medford to the consulting firms of Parsons Brinckerhoff and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin. The study is called "Lechmere and Beyond" and will examine the possibilities of extending rapid transit, rail, and bus service past Lechmere station, the current terminus of the Green Line.

"The planning process starts with the MBTA's 25-year plan, which is called the Program for Mass Transportation (PMT)," according to Clinton Bench, the manager of Transit Service Planning for the Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

Massachusetts is legally obligated to complete projects listed in the PMT.

Projects on the 25-year plan are dealt with by the MPO in a regional transportation plan.

"The Green Line for Medford Hillside is at least in that first document, the PMT. It is addressed in the regional transportation plan as well," Bench said. "As long as it's in that document [the PMT], it can move on to the next step. It takes the support of cities, towns, elected officials, and citizens. And it takes money."

According to Dennis DiZoglio, the Assistant General Manager for Planning and Real Estate for the MBTA, "unless something happens where the commonwealth tries to substitute it, they are committed to build it." However, "the MBTA doesn't have any money to build it," he said. DiZoglio said that the project's inception depends on whether or not it will receive federal funding.

The MPO rates the Green Line extension as medium priority and estimates the cost at $375 million, saving commuters a total of 1,647 hours of commuting time per day. Based on ridership estimates compiled by the MPO, the Lechmere to West Medford extension could save riders an average of 20 minutes per trip. The same report said that riders would further benefit by not having to transfer from bus to rail in order to reach downtown Boston.

The new stations would be located in areas designated for revitalization, such as Union Square. According to a preliminary map released by the MPO, one station would be located close to the corner of Boston and College Aves., the current location of Curtis Hall, Tufts-owned fields, and the Cousens Gymnasium parking lot. Other stops would be near Union and Ball Squares.

The line would terminate at the end of Boston Ave. in West Medford, past the Alewife Brook Pkwy. Tracks would run alongside the existing Boston and Maine railroad that passes behind Hill Hall in Medford, now used by the MBTA commuter rail and Amtrak trains.

Though eight rail lines run through Somerville, the city is only served by the Davis Square stop on the Red Line. According to the Somerville Transportation Equity Project (STEP), Somerville has the second highest usage of MBTA transit of all towns served.

"We need to build the Green Line, and we should've built it long ago, let alone now being in danger of missing our deadline," STEP's Avi Greene said. "We need it economically, we need it to reduce the terrible traffic in Somerville, we need it to create jobs, and we need to clean up the environment."

The least economically developed areas of the city are those which most heavily rely on bus transit, which is slowest and most dependent on traffic and weather. East Somerville, which has a high immigrant and minority population, is the area least served by public transportation in Somerville. Greene said that a similar revitalization to the one that came to Davis Square after the Red Line was brought there would come to economically depressed parts of Somerville that would be reached by the Green Line.

STEP estimates that a commute from Swampscott to North Station via commuter rail -- covering a distance of 12 miles -- takes 26 minutes. A trip from Union Square in Somerville to North Station by bus and rapid transit -- covering 2.5 miles -- takes 30 minutes depending on traffic. Students who have tried to travel from Tufts to the CambridgeSide Galleria at Lechmere are familiar with the difficulty of making that relatively short trip by bus or rapid transit.

Inequity in transportation also extends to the amount paid by cities to the MBTA. Even though Somerville only has one stop, it pays the same amount to the MBTA as cities such as Newton, which has several stops with parking lots along with a commuter rail connection and an express commuter bus to Boston.

According to Greene, the extension of the line is also environmental. "Around the same time that the state was judged to be out of compliance about ozone levels that were illegally high, building the green line was part of our state implementation plan," he said.

Even though the feasibility study brings "Lechmere and Beyond" a bit closer to fruition, it still has economic hurdles to cross, such as statewide budget cuts, and a number of ongoing projects with priority above the extension such as the reopening of the Arborway line. "Right now, it appears that the legislature is saying that they don't have the money, and the executive [branch] has been saying that they don't have the money, but I think what we really need is leadership and ownership from both of those parties to make a solution here," Greene said.

The PMT estimated that the soonest the West Medford extension could be completed would be in December of 2011. DiZoglio said that the feasibility study was a good first step for the project. "There still needs to be a discussion on the financing. Does it get us closer? Yes. Does it mean it's going to happen? We don't know yet."

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The T is obligated by commitments made in Big Dig mitigation to build the green line West Medford extension.

This site has information and maps of possible routes.

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This extension is a no-brainer. The T should have spent the Greenbush money on this line and the extension of the blueline.

It seems that our governor is surprisingly pro transit and I hope he can loosen Washington's purse strings to get these projects going.

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Another story in today's Globe about Green to Medford...

Study to explore extension routes for Green Line

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff, 3/12/2004

The MBTA took the first steps yesterday to extend the Green Line from Lechmere to West Medford, a $375 million expansion of the transit system that the state promised as a condition for undertaking the Big Dig.

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A $391,000 study to be conducted by the firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin of Watertown will spell out the possible routes and station stops of the 4.2-mile extension through Somerville, approved by the board of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The study should be finished this year.

Somerville is more densely populated than Cambridge or Brookline yet has no light rail service, only one Red Line stop at Davis Square, buses, and commuter trains that pass through but don't stop, said Wig Zamore, a member of the Somerville Transit Equity Partnership.

The extension of the Green Line will go either alongside the Lowell commuter rail tracks to Washington Street, School Street, Lowell Street, Tufts University in Medford, and finally West Medford at Route 60; or along the Fitchburg commuter rail tracks to Union Square, and under a new tunnel under Prospect Hill to School Street.

Though the Green Line extension is among the state's legal obligations to expand the transit system as part of a 1990 pact giving the go-ahead to build the Big Dig, there are no firm funding plans for the project. Only the cost of the study is in the $2.5 billion, five-year capital spending plan the board approved yesterday.

While the Green Line extension is widely supported in Somerville, the T board got an earful yesterday about another expensive project that several Roxbury residents said they didn't want: the $760 million tunnel linking the current Silver Line bus service with Boylston Station and then South Station.

The Silver Line bus service can't replace the elevated Orange Line that ran down Washington Street until 1987, said Robert Terrell, a member of the Washington Street Corridor Coalition. The T should invest in turning the bus service into a light rail service like the Green Line, he said.

Instead, T planners have proposed connecting the bus service from Dudley Square to another line, expected to open later this year, that goes from South Station through the South Boston Waterfront and ultimately to Logan Airport. The connection would be made through a tunnel from Washington Street to Boylston Station, and then under Essex Street to South Station.

City Councilor Chuck Turner said the two projects -- the existing Silver Line and the waterfront portion of the Silver Line -- should be "uncoupled," because getting light rail service is more important than getting to the waterfront or to Logan for his constituents.

In other action yesterday, the T board approved a $1.2 billion budget request for 2005 that now goes to the state Legislature, and $238 million for independent contractors to operate The Ride, despite withering criticism from several users who testified yesterday that the paratransit service is often late and unreliable. In addition, the membership of the new 24-member Rider Oversight Committee was announced.

The committee, which the T agreed to form to hear customer grievances after the fare hike in January, consists of eight regular riders of subway or commuter rail, and representatives from advocacy groups.

From The Boston Globe

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I was driving thru Union Square the other day and thought what an improvement it will be when the area has direct Green Line service.

btw- The Ride is a great service for the elderly who deserve it and should be preserved.

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Damn, that seems like a hell of an extension.

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Damn, that seems like a hell of an extension.

It's sort of like the Green Line's current D Branch. It's light rail trolley cars, but it would run entirely grade seperated from traffic, along the Commuter Rail right of ways, and possibly, partly in a tunnel. The ride into the city will be quite speedy since it won't be dealing with the traffic lights that the B, C, and E lines contend with.

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Green line slowly makes way to Somerville

By Brock Parker/ Journal Staff

Thursday, July 1, 2004

The Green Line may be coming to Somerville, but don't buy your tokens, yet.

The initial planning stage for a transportation project that could extend the MBTA's Green Line through Somerville by 2011 has begun.

An advisory committee composed of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Somerville, Medford, Cambridge and Tufts University officials met for the second time last week in an effort to narrow the number of alternatives for improving public transportation in Somerville.

"We are at the beginning," said Joe Cosgrove, the MBTA Planning Department project manager who chaired the advisory committee last week. "We are in the project definition stage."

The MBTA and the advisory board will be studying six transportation plans for Somerville and into West Medford. Among the alternatives are plans to extend the Green Line from the Lechmere stop three miles to Tufts via Somerville; a 1.3-mile Green Line extension to Union Square; and a four-mile "busway" through Somerville.

In March, the MBTA approved a $391,000 feasibility study by Watertown-based firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin to explore extending the Green Line. The study will be completed by the end of the year. In a 2000 Administrative Consent Order with the state Executive Office of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection, the MBTA agreed to extend Green Line Service to West Medford by 2011.

But whether service will be provided by a train or bus line is still under discussion. No matter what the advisory committee decides, the MBTA will make the final decision.

"Buses are very much a serious consideration," said Jan Okolowicz, a consultant from Parsons Brinkerhoff, which is working with VHB on the feasibility study.

VHB representative Mike McArdle told the advisory committee last week that the transportation line's length is still up in the air, as well.

"The northern limit is still under discussion," said McArdle.

Improving public transportation in Somerville is a top priority of the study, however, Cosgrove said.

"Obviously, Somerville is the primary community," Cosgrove said. "Medford is the terminus."

Somerville is the most heavily represented community on the advisory board. Among the local members are Lucy Warsh from the mayor's office, Aldermen At Large Bill White, DPW administrators, neighborhood activists and Nelson Salazar of the Welcome Project.

But at least one Medford resident sitting on the advisory committee, Robert Feigin, said Medford has just as much at stake in the transportation study.

"We are a co-primary beneficiary of this plan," Feigin told Cosgrove. "We have to be on your radar screen."

Cosgrove said the advisory committee will "narrow" the number of transportation alternatives the MBTA will propose for funding. Despite the agreement the MBTA has signed to extend the Green Line, Cosgrove said obtaining funding for the project could be a challenge.

The next meeting of the advisory committee has been set tentatively for Aug. 12 at the Tufts Administrative Building on Holland Street.

From Somerville Journal

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In Somerville, they want to catch trolley

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | October 29, 2004

There are plenty of train tracks in Somerville, 11 miles of them, just counting commuter rail and Amtrak.

The problem, say residents of this densely settled, working-class city, is that none of the trains that run on those tracks, 200 every day, stop in Somerville, instead rushing by on their way to Boston.

About 500 residents gathered Wednesday night at Somerville High School, hoping to persuade state officials to change all that by building the $375 million extension of the Green Line from Lechmere to West Medford, including a possible spur to Union Square.

The extension, an idea that has been around since 1970, would provide trolley service to people in a city of 77,400 who now must use the bus and sit in traffic. The city's only subway stop is the Red Line's Davis Square, near the western border with Cambridge.

Although many residents believe it is Somerville's turn to get a major new transit project, after commuter-rail expansion in the suburbs, their hopes could hit a dead end. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is talking about ditching light rail in favor of bus rapid transit or enhanced bus service, which could be done at a much lower cost.

But the T says it has no money to build the Somerville extension, leaving it up to the Romney administration. The governor's office, in turn, says the Green Line extension is a fine idea, but may have to wait behind other priorities, such as the Urban Ring, the bus-and-rail route encircling Boston, a more ambitious project that could cost up to $2 billion.

"It's worthy of consideration, but the Green Line extension doesn't appear to be in the same class," said Stephen Burrington, undersecretary in the Office of Commonwealth Development.

That kind of talk drives Somerville transit boosters batty.

Wig Zamore, a member of the advocacy group Somerville Transit Equity Partnership, said that the city needs electric trolley service because air pollution from diesel trains and vehicles on highways through the city are causing major health problems.

Bus rapid transit -- more frequent buses in dedicated travel lanes, such as the Silver Line down Washington Street in Boston -- would not be sufficient, because it would require a time-consuming transfer from the Green Line trolleys at the current terminus at Lechmere, Zamore said.

Andrea Yakovakis, who recently moved from Boston to a home near Union Square, agrees that rail is the only answer for such a dense urban setting. She envisions Green Line stops at Brickbottom, Cobble Hill, and Gilman Square and a new Orange Line stop at the Assembly Square development site near the Mystic River, for good measure. Part of the reason that so many Somerville residents want rail -- which Cambridge, Boston, and Brookline residents enjoy -- is that bus service in the city has been so spotty, Yakovakis said.

"The bus I am waiting for is nearly always late and sometimes never arrives at all," she said. "It's nearly always a diesel bus, which belches black smoke into the air, smelling terrible and leaving a fine black dust behind. I have waited for up to an hour for my bus, watching as 'out-of-service' buses pass by, and realized how much I took for granted when I would jump on the subway all those years."

Better bus service or bus rapid transit is being studied among nine possible alternatives for the Somerville project, said Dennis DiZoglio, T planning director.

A Green Line extension north through the east side of Somerville would primarily use existing rights-of-way and share the commuter-rail track bed most of the way. The estimated cost of $375 million is "a planning number," said DiZoglio, although Zamore said the cost is probably more like $500 million.

The T does not have estimates for how many people would ride the extended line. About 5,400 people board at Lechmere on an average weekday, and total Green Line ridership is 225,000, the most of any of the subway lines.

As transit projects go, the Green Line extension is doable and relatively inexpensive, said US Representative Michael E. Capuano of Somerville,

Capuano added that he was surprised to hear Burrington's comments about the Urban Ring being a higher priority, since the state has already told the Federal Transit Administration that extending the Green Line and the Blue Line to Lynn were next in line.

The T has committed to the $491 million restoration of the Greenbush commuter-rail line to the South Shore and the $1.4 billion Silver Line from Roxbury to the South Boston Waterfront and Logan Airport and has moved ahead with studies on the Green and Blue line extensions, the Urban Ring, and the restoration of the Arborway trolley service in Jamaica Plain.

The Green Line project has the advantage of being one of the projects the state promised to build in 1990, Capuano and others pointed out, as part of an agreement with environmental advocates that paved the way for the Big Dig. The Green Line extension is supposed to be done by 2011.

That agreement is tied to federally monitored clean-air goals, and the state is obliged to build the projects it promised to build to get cars off the roads, Zamore said. "The state can't unilaterally change them," he said.

From The Boston Globe

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It's amazing that MA is still hearing about BRT instead of rail. They really aren't close to being the same. IMO the costs are quite distorted in favor of busses, and do not account for lost time, damage to roads, traffic congestion, etc.

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T proponents say expansion is a matter of life or death

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | December 1, 2004

Advocates for expanded transit service in urban neighborhoods are turning to a new theme in their push for projects: Death.

In Somerville, where residents are clamoring for an extension of the Green Line, one group published a chart showing disproportionate death rates from air pollution-related disease in that city.

More people using electric trolleys means fewer people driving cars on Interstate 93 or taking diesel buses or commuter trains, said Wig Zamore, a member of Somerville Transit Equity Partnership, who assembled the data from the state Department of Public Health and passed it out at a recent meeting with state and MBTA officials.

''This is unquestioned in the scientific community today: There's a linear relationship between air pollution and mortality," said Zamore, who said neighboring communities such as Chelsea, Malden, and Revere can make a similar argument. ''If you're putting people in the greatest concentrations of population without putting in the transportation to clean up the air, you are basically signing a death warrant."

The language is unusually stark for activists trying to get an extension of a transit line. But the stakes have grown higher: Officials say that after three decades and billions in expansions, the T will expand no further.

Tonight in Malden, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority goes on the road for the first of eight public hearings on a five-year construction plan that includes hardly any major system expansion. Beyond completing the Silver Line and restoring the Greenbush commuter rail, the T can't afford to add to the system, said General Manager Michael Mulhern. He said he wants to avoid being overextended like other large transit systems, resulting in fare hikes and service cuts.

The Romney administration has also balked at providing funding for any major expansion of the T, despite a 1990 agreement linking system expansion to the construction of the Big Dig. State officials have scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 14 at the State House to discuss substitutions for the projects listed in that pact, which include the Green Line extension, trolley service for Jamaica Plain, and a Red-Blue line connector in Boston, among others.

Philip Hailer -- spokesman for the Office of Commonwealth Development, which oversees major transportation planning -- said that the state takes any legitimate claims about air pollution and public health ''very seriously," but that the state wants to pick the transportation projects that deliver the most air quality benefit.

Zamore was undeterred. At a recent meeting attended by Mulhern and Robert Golledge, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Zamore placed a copy of the chart showing air pollution-related deaths on every seat.

The state is required to meet clean air goals under federal law, Zamore pointed out, and if the state fails to build transit projects that help meet those goals, the federal government could cut off all transportation funding. That is a scenario faced in recent years in Atlanta, Baltimore, and San Francisco.

Several studies have suggested a connection between air pollution and premature death, including one done by the Harvard School of Public Health, and most believe ''there is a direct link," said David Conroy, manager of air quality planning for the Environmental Protection Agency.

When setting air quality standards for power plants or diesel engine emissions, the EPA will do an analysis showing how many fewer people will die as a result of cleaner air. But virtually all such analysis is done on a regional basis, Conroy said.

''We don't predict by community," he said.

Mulhern said while expanding public transit helps clean the air, it might be a stretch to say it's a matter of life or death if one community does not get a transit line. ''It's an interesting way to promote transit investment," he said.

Mulhern said that the T's recently released Capital Investment Program report was more than 80 percent for maintaining and enhancing the existing network. He said he will not take on any new projects if he cannot maintain the current system.

The T is wrapping up two major projects. One is the second phase of the Silver Line -- the busway from South Station to the South Boston Waterfront, with eventual service to Logan Airport -- set to open Dec. 17. The other is the restoration of the Greenbush line to the South Shore, a $479 million project facing lawsuits and environmental problems and already projected to miss the initial 2006 completion date.

From The Boston Globe

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Great Article,

The T is trying to get out of restoring Arborway Streetcars as well.

Anyone interested in helping out with that should show up on the 14th at the public hearing at the state house.

http://www.arborway.net will have details

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I don't really understand what happened to Romney's focus on transit in the city. Seems he's been too busy hawking his book and cozying up to the national republicans to have enough time for it. It could really be a legacy for him like Seargent stopping expressway construction.

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Romney's gotta go. He simply doesn't represent the values of our state. We value projects for the public benefit rather than private wealth. Hopefully we get rid of him in 2006. Michael Capuano is thinking about running.

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Michael Capuano is thinking about running.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I saw Michael Capuano on Greater Boston the other night and Emily Rooney asked him if he was thinking of running (he was also near the top of the list to replace Kerry in the Senate if he won). He outright said he was very seriously considering it. I remember when he ran for the Congress, I was in his district and was less than enthusiastic about him winning, but he's been great ever since. I'd love to see him as Governor, he's a big transit advocate, and Green to Medford would be his top transit priority.

I might move back to Mass. if the Gay Marriage Ammendment goes to the voters in '06, I'd definately vote for Mike if I moved back and he was running.

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Capuano would be better for the state in the Senate than as the Governor. We need someone to get the transit and other federal dollars for us. We had a great GOP Governor in Weld, there is no good reason for Romney to be such a ******. Oh well, I wont vote for him in '06, but as much as I love transit, I'm not voting for Dukakis.

:-)

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State is accused of breaking promises

Residents rap plan to scrap projects

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff | December 15, 2004

Angry residents from Somerville and Jamaica Plain packed a State House hearing yesterday, vowing to sue if state officials back away from plans for light rail lines in their neighborhoods, promised 15 years ago as a condition for building the Big Dig.

"A deal is a deal," said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, comparing the state's move to Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez's joining the New York Mets. "But here's the difference. Pedro made a verbal commitment to stay in Boston. The state signed on the dotted line."

He was referring to the 1990 agreement, signed by state officials, promising to expand and modernize the Boston area's transit system, as work was getting started on the Big Dig. Now state officials are reconsidering three promised projects: the extension of the Green Line through Somerville, the restoration of trolley service through Jamaica Plain, and a Red Line-Blue Line connector in downtown Boston.

State officials, including transportation secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas, called the hearing to establish a process for dumping the projects, which together would cost about $700 million.

About 300 people filed into the State House auditorium, cheering wildly as elected officials and others accused Governor Mitt Romney's administration of reneging on legally binding commitments. They brandished bright-yellow signs reading, "Accept No Substitutes" and "Give Us Justice."

Advocates for the Green Line extension from Lechmere to West Medford, which would cost roughly $400 million, were joined by Jamaica Plain residents seeking the proposed $100 million restoration of trolley service on the Green Line's E branch, discontinued in the mid-1980s.

The other promised project -- the $193 million extension of the Blue Line from Bowdoin station under Cambridge Street to the Charles/MGH stop on the Red Line -- did not receive vocal support. State transportation planners have noted that the new Silver Line service, scheduled to open Friday, will provide good access from the Red Line to Logan Airport, a major goal for the Red-Blue connector.

And some elected officials touted the extension of the Blue Line from Revere to Lynn, which is not part of the package of Big Dig-related promises, as a more worthy project than the Somerville or Jamaica Plain projects.

But Bill White, a Somerville alderman, warned that the state would face a lawsuit should the Green Line not be built, for failing to provide "environmental justice" to a crowded city suffering from air pollution from vehicles.

White noted that in contrast, the Romney administration pushed ahead with the $479 million Greenbush commuter rail project through South Shore suburbs. "You're going to have to explain that to a federal judge," he said.

There are two legal fronts in the dispute. The Conservation Law Foundation is planning to file suit in January, accusing the state of reneging on the 1990 agreement, which was affirmed by a court order calling for action on the projects in 2000. Another tactic is to link the foot-dragging on transit projects to the state's failure to meet air quality standards in the Clean Air Act.

State Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, a Cambridge Democrat, said the administration is vulnerable in both areas.

Before state officials can withdraw a promised transit project, they must show that it can't be built because of engineering, economics, or environmental impact, Barrios said. That is not the case with any of the three projects, although MBTA officials say it will be impossible to run trolleys down Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

Barrios also said he is puzzled that the Romney administration would seek to slip out of the commitments because the projects match its goals for smart growth and transit-linked development.

From The Boston Globe

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I hope they do sue the state. The Green Line thru Somerville would serve an area that screams for rail transit.

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City: T's been taking us for Green Line ride

Curtatone plans lawsuit to force promised extension

By Benjamin Gedan, Globe Correspondent | January 9, 2005

Stung by years of failed lobbying, city leaders are preparing a lawsuit against several state agencies to force the MBTA to extend the Green Line into Somerville, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone recently announced.

The lawsuit will accuse the state of breaching a 1990 agreement to extend the Green Line from Lechmere into West Medford as a condition of building the Big Dig.

"For too long, we've had to breathe the dirty air of Boston's northern commuters while being saddled with some of the worst public transportation in the region," Curtatone said in his State of the City speech last Monday. "This is an injustice, a wrong that we will right in the coming years."

The MBTA's five-year construction plan does not include any major expansion, the result of what General Manager Michael Mulhern has called financial constraints. The Romney administration has also backed away from the Green Line expansion pledge.

Transportation advocates, including the Conservation Law Foundation, have been threatening a lawsuit since the state announced it was reconsidering its 1990 agreement. The foundation plans to announce its lawsuit this month, said Julia Bovey, its spokeswoman.

Curtatone, who spoke at a Dec. 14 State House hearing on the topic alongside a horde of angry residents, made no mention of a city lawsuit until Monday.

He did, however, lobby passionately for the project, after journeying from City Hall for an hour on two buses and a train to arrive at Beacon Hill. Last week, the city's attorney, John Gannon, said Somerville will notify potential defendants in the lawsuit this month.

The announcement did not come as a total surprise. Frustration among transportation advocates has been building with state inaction. Last month, the city's Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution saying Route 93 had a "devastating impact" on the city's air quality and directing Curtatone to investigate legal options. The city clerk sent a copy of the resolution to Transportation Secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas.

"It's important for us to convey how serious we are, and to put [the state] on notice that they're going to have to defend their actions in front of a federal judge," said Alderman William A. White, who drafted the resolution.

Transportation advocates have long lobbied for a Green Line stop, complaining of local roads choked by commuter traffic and diesel buses polluting the air. The Big Dig only made things worse, diverting cars into Somerville and slowing motorists on the Central Artery as they slogged above the city. The result is dirty air and higher rates of lung cancer and heart attacks than the statewide average, said Wig Zamore, a member of Somerville Transit Equity Partnership, an advocacy group.

Zamore said several residents are planning separate federal lawsuits against the state for violating the Clean Air Act. If successful, he said Massachusetts could lose all federal transportation funding until it meets air quality requirements.

"Premature mortality from heart attacks and lung cancer is not a community tactic," he said. "The evidence is overwhelmingly compelling."

Four railroad tracks divide Somerville, but the crowded city has only one train stop, a Red Line station in Davis Square. About 700,000 commuters cut through Somerville daily to get downtown or to Cambridge and other destinations, according to Curtatone.

To gain support for the Big Dig, the state pledged 15 years ago to build a $400 million Green Line extension. Two years ago, a court order reaffirmed that commitment. But the state is reconsidering the three projects, which include, besides the West Medford extension, trolley service in Jamaica Plain and a Red Line-Blue Line connector in downtown Boston.

Judith Foreman, spokeswoman for the state highway department, called the city's lawsuit "premature." The state plans at least one more public hearing before February, and officials are still accepting public comment on the projects.

"It is still very early in this process," Foreman said. "There's been no resolution yet as to how we're fulfilling this commitment." But Gannon said the state squandered its opportunity to avoid litigation. And the Conservation Law Foundation is offering to help Somerville prepare its federal complaint.

"Bad pun, but the train has left the station," Gannon said. "The state failed to live up to its commitment."

From The Boston Globe

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Capuano would be better for the state in the Senate than as the Governor.  We need someone to get the transit and other federal dollars for us.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Capuano announced he will not be running for Governor and will focus on getting transit funds for the state in the House. Good news and bad news I think.

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Capuano announced he will not be running for Governor and will focus on getting transit funds for the state in the House. Good news and bad news I think.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This news is bitter sweet, however I question Romney's commitment to mass transit. I think hes more concerned about conservative voters in the suburbs than urbanites who might vote against him in '06.

I don't think he will get re-elected, that is provided we have a strong dem candidate. O'Brien was a disaster...

I just moved to Somerville last week and would love to see the green line extended through Medford Square, it would be a boon to the area.

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How bout expanding the greenline south and southwest back into JP and actual Boston neighborhoods?

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The state is also obligated by Big Dig mitigation to restore E-line service through JP to Arborway. Like the Beyond Lechmere obligations, the T is dragging it's feet.

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The state is also obligated by Big Dig mitigation to restore E-line service through JP to Arborway. Like the Beyond Lechmere obligations, the T is dragging it's feet.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is that the old Centre street line that they stopped way back when? JP would benefit alot from restored service along Centre Street.

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