Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler and MBTA General Manager Stephen Poftak recently joined federal, state and local elected leaders and community partners to celebrate the opening of the first branch of the Green Line Extension (GLX) Project. A ribbon-cutting event was held at the brand-new Union Square Station as well as at the newly constructed and relocated Lechmere Station.
“The Green Line Extension is a transformative project that is the result of collaboration among federal, state, local and community partners and our administration is thrilled to celebrate today’s launch. This expansion of the Green Line will improve access to educational and job opportunities throughout the MTBA system and across the region,” said Baker. “This milestone will have a significant impact on this region of the Commonwealth by providing better MBTA service to riders and spurring economic growth, and we are grateful to everyone who worked together to make this day possible.”
“Residents within these communities and across the region will now get to experience the many benefits of expanded MBTA service in Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford,” said Polito. “The Green Line Extension has been an important part of our administration’s work to expand transit options for travelers across the Commonwealth, and we look forward to the opening of the second branch of GLX later this year.”
“The Green Line Extension has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to the Senate, and I’m glad to have helped secure nearly a billion dollars in federal funding for this vital project that improves transportation and tackles environmental injustices head on,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. “This project became a reality because our Somerville and Cambridge communities were dissatisfied with the status quo and fought tooth and nail for transformational modern transit. I will keep working with my Congressional delegation colleagues to prioritize federal investments in our frontline communities that have been historically shortchanged on infrastructure improvements.”
“We call it the Green New Deal because we need green lines all across Massachusetts and the country that makes reliable, affordable public transit the backbone of our local communities and economy,” said U.S. Senator Ed Markey. “The long-awaited Green Line expansion will connect thousands in Cambridge and Somerville to new economic opportunities and a greener future. I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues to secure this nearly $1 billion investment that will break down barriers for workers, cut fossil fuel emissions for our climate, reduce traffic congestions for commuters, and make transit more accessible for our communities.”
“I’m thrilled to see the Green Line Extension into Somerville move forward at long last,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “By extending past Lechmere into Union Square, the project will help spur the economic growth we’re already seeing in Somerville, connect residents to critical resources, and improve, equity, accessibility, mobility, congestion, and environmental conditions for riders and the communities who rely on the Green Line to get to and from work. I’ll keep fighting to secure robust investments in our public transit to support projects like the GLX, address transportation inequities, and make our communities more connected.”
“The Green Line Extension is already transforming the region, creating so many opportunities for residents,” said Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “The Green Line was the first subway line in America. MBTA is still on the cutting edge, looking for new and better ways to improve access and change people’s lives. I am proud of FTA’s role as this project came to fruition – not only providing a nearly $1 billion Capital Investment Grant – but also our technical assistance throughout the process.”
“The start of service on the Union Square branch of the Green Line Extension Project is just one example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to providing safe and equitable transportation networks that support the Commonwealth’s transit, economic, climate and public health goals,” said Secretary Tesler. “We are grateful to the partnerships which have helped make this project a success and look forward to unveiling additional infrastructure improvements including commuter rail station renovations and projects bringing the system into modern times with ADA-compliant features.”
“The opening of the Union Square Branch of the Green Line today marks an incredible achievement for the MBTA and improved transit options for the riders we serve. It also symbolizes the culmination of many years of hard work on the project, even during times of uncertainty,” said Poftak. “I’d like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for its continued guidance and support of GLX; our MassDOT partners for their continued leadership; our municipal partners for their eagerness and collaboration; GLX Program Manager John Dalton and the entire GLX team for their dedicated work in propelling this project forward and making this day a reality; the entire MBTA team for their support of this project; and the many stakeholders, advocates, GLX neighbors, and members of the community who have partnered with us and supported the project. This is a great day, and we look forward to officially opening Green Line service along GLX’s Medford Branch later this year.”
“The GLX will finally bring the improvements in traffic, air quality, and health that Somerville has needed and been promised for so long,” said State Senator Patricia Jehlen. “Thanks to all the community advocates, elected officials, transportation staff, and workers who have persisted and overcome so many obstacles! This is an important milestone, and we look forward to the other stations opening this year and to the full extension to Route 16 as soon as possible.”
“Over 20 years ago, I joined with those early activists working for the GLX and environmental justice because of their clear vision and our shared desire for justice,” said Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “That shared desire for justice has united many of us, and this milestone demonstrates what we can accomplish when we work together. I want to recognize and thank our activists for their vision and great effort, and others who have helped us to realize this progress.”
“The opening of the Green Line Extension is an exciting day for Cambridge, Somerville, and the entire region,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “This investment in public transit is an investment in the economic and environmental health of our communities, and I am grateful to the many advocates and elected officials who pushed for the extension.”
“I want to thank Governor Baker and his predecessor, Governor Patrick, for their vision and commitment to equity,” said former Congressman Michael Capuano. “Without their leadership this project would still be a dream. This is proof that elections matter and quality leaders matter.”
“They said it couldn’t be done and is there anything more in character for Somerville than proving it can be?” said former Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “We always knew mass transit was an essential and missing piece from a vibrant urban community like Somerville. It’s better for the environment, better for people’s health and it adds quality of life and accessibility for everyone. This only happened because an entire city demanded the state and federal governments do the right thing and honor their commitments. The GLX is proof positive that the people united can make a difference.”
“The start of revenue service on the Union Square Branch today represents the collective, sustained efforts of many people for many years,” said MBTA Green Line Extension Program Manager John Dalton. “Advocates, elected officials, engineers, contractors, MBTA employees, city and state employees have persisted to ensure the real beneficiaries of GLX – the riding public – will now have reliable, safe public rail service from Union Square Station in Somerville and soon from Medford/Tufts Station in Medford. As a member of the MBTA’s project delivery team, I want to specifically thank the dedicated professionals of the MBTA’s Program Management Team, the staff and work crews of GLX Constructors, and the residents and neighbors who have been impacted by the construction efforts associated with achieving this historic milestone.”
“The opening of the Green Line Extension to Union Square and the new Lechmere Station are exciting milestones that residents of my district have been eagerly awaiting,” said State Senator Sal DiDomenico. “This connectivity brings new opportunities for transit-orient development, job creation, and lower environmental impacts in the community. I want to thank our federal, state, and local partners for staying the course and ensuring that this day became a reality. This was a large undertaking by so many people who were determined to bring safe and timely transit options to our residents. As an East Cambridge native, I also appreciate the investments in the Lechmere Viaduct which has been a part of our landscape for decades.”
“On this momentous occasion of opening the Green Line Extension, I want to thank the many local activists and community members who fought for decades to bring public transit to our neighborhoods,” said State Representative Christine Barber. “We worked alongside activists to build the first expansion of the T in a generation, which will serve our communities that have been overburdened by traffic and air pollution. I look forward to the next Green Line Extension opening to ensure every Somerville and Medford resident has access to safe, clean, and reliable transit.”
“Today’s grand opening marks the culmination of decades of activism and advocacy by Somerville and Cambridge residents in support of expanded public transit in our community. As the State Representative for Lechmere, Union Square Station, and other parts of Cambridge and Somerville, I am grateful to Governor Baker and all our state, federal, and municipal partners for making the Green Line Extension a reality,” said State Representative Michael Connolly. “Connecting the Environmental Justice communities of East Somerville to the MBTA’s rail network will take thousands of cars off the road, further reducing environmental burdens in this region. In addition, I am particularly pleased that this project will deliver the Community Path Extension and incorporate work from local artists.”
The former Lechmere Station opened with the completion of the East Cambridge Viaduct in 1912. It has served as the terminus point of the Green Line since that time. For the past several decades, the backbone of major economic development and job growth at Lechmere has been the long awaited GLX Project.
The new Lechmere Station that opened as part of GLX is located on the viaduct on the north side of Monsignor O’Brien Highway. Featuring two headhouses located on North First Street and on East Street, the new Lechmere Station includes a new busway with four bus shelters, longer station platforms to accommodate the next iteration of Green Line “supercars,” storage for more than 250 bicycles (182 covered, 72 uncovered), covered platforms and three elevators. With the reopening of Lechmere, Bus Routes 69, 80, 87 and 88 will now use the new Lechmere Station busway on Water Street.
Union Square Branch and Station
Linking one of Somerville’s most highly populated residential and commercial centers to Boston and the rest of the MBTA system, the Union Square Branch of GLX that opened recently runs approximately one mile parallel to the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line to Union Square in Somerville. The Union Square Branch’s strategic location will contribute to an estimated removal of 26,000 vehicle trips per day from local streets and provide riders with a one-seat ride from Somerville to Fenway Park and the Longwood Medical Area. Union Square Station is also an important driver of local economic benefits that include significant job growth through developer investment and a stimulated commercial tax base in the area.
With an entrance at Prospect Street in Somerville, Union Square Station features a platform canopy, longer station platforms to accommodate the next iteration of Green Line “supercars,” two customer assistance areas with emergency call boxes, five platform benches, bicycle storage areas and an elevator to/from the Prospect Street Bridge.
The GLX Project extends the Green Line approximately 4.7 miles along two branches – the Union Square Branch and the Medford Branch – from the relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge. The Medford Branch of GLX, which is anticipated to open in summer 2022, will run approximately 3.7 miles parallel to the Lowell Commuter Rail Line to College Avenue in Medford. Seven new stations were constructed as part of the project, including the relocated Lechmere Station, along with a new vehicle storage and maintenance facility in Somerville. When fully complete, Green Line trains will operate every five to six minutes in the peak periods, providing fast and efficient service in areas that did not previously have access to reliable public transit. GLX will also significantly reduce vehicle emissions on the road by supporting anticipated increased ridership and dramatically improve local and regional air quality when GLX is complete. About 20 percent of Somerville’s population is within walking distance of rail transit today, and 80 percent will be within walking distance to a station at the completion of the project.
GLX was procured through a framework that set strict limitations on the project’s total cost while allowing bidders to include additive options ensuring the MBTA could procure a project that maximized the benefits without jeopardizing its budget. In addition to track infrastructure and seven station stops, construction included six additive options: platform canopies, additional elevators at select stations, public art, an extension of the community path with additional connections and an enhanced vehicle maintenance facility.
The total project cost is nearly $2.3 billion, which includes other project components, such as real estate, professional services, contingency and the procurement of 24 new trains to augment the existing Green Line fleet. When fully complete, GLX will have installed 100,000 railroad ties, 21,000 linear feet (nearly four miles) of pilings, 22 million pounds of steel (which includes 16.5 million pounds of steel girders), 17 miles of permanent track and two miles of multiuse community path.