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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Green Line extension end point may be announced next week

    As transportation officials continue to vet the Green Line's planned extension into Medford and Somerville, the next major announcement may reveal where the line will end.
    While Tufts is guaranteed to get a stop at the intersection of Boston and College Avenues, the line will either stop there or will continue further down Boston Avenue to the Mystic Valley Parkway (Route 16). The announcement may come as soon as next week.
    The proposed extension, which was promised to communities to offset pollution from Boston's Big Dig, dates back more than 15 years and has seen a number of delays.
    In May, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) revealed its most recent plans to add seven new Green Line stations in Medford and Somerville. Three of them — a Ball Square stop and the extension's two potential end locations — are situated less than one mile from Tufts' campus. This followed Gov. Deval Patrick's allocation of $600 million on April 17 in order to fund the extension and guarantee completion by its 2014 deadline.
    Community groups and transportation officials are currently directing their focus to the two possible final stops in Medford. Whichever location gets the terminal stop will have the largest stop generated by the Green Line extension.
    The Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) may announce the end location of the extension at the next public meeting on the project Sept. 15, according to Ken Krause, a member of the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance (MGNA), an advisory group comprised of local citizens.
    Klark Jessen, a spokesperson for the EOT, would not confirm that a recommendation would be made. "The terminus is still under consideration and review," he said. "I'm not aware we're going to make some big announcement Sept. 15."
    Krause said that he was unsure of how the EOT's decision would play out.
    "There's a lot of factors involved," he said. "We think that the EOT should look strongly at trying to go to Route 16 in order to make the project as good a project as possible, serve the most people, provide the most air quality improvements — and hopefully that will still be in a cost-effectiveness range [so] they feel the project is still worth doing."
    At an Aug. 4 meeting, the MGNA presented a demographic analysis of the neighborhoods surrounding both proposed stops, as well as a petition signed by 2,022 people in support of a Route 16 station.
    The demographic analysis revealed that more than 9,000 people "who would not be similarly served by a terminus station at College Avenue" live within a half mile of Route 16, according to an MGNA press release.
    The MGNA has spoken out in support of the Route 16 terminus, citing positive effects such an extension would have on air quality and on increasing the availability of public transportation to the area's disadvantaged communities.
    "The Green Line extension project is bound by the environmental justice principles that no segment of the population should be denied environmental benefits, or bear a disproportionate burden of the environmental impacts, related to the project," the MGNA demographic report said.
    The EOT must now analyze potential ridership and determine whether a Route 16 extension would be cost-effective, Krause said. He also noted that the Route 16 stop may require land acquisitions, unlike other T stops on the Green Line extension.
    "That's kind of, I think, one of the big unknown factors," Krause said, "because up until now … they've been able [to expand] without the need to take anyone's homes or without any significant land acquisitions." Such acquisitions would incur a significant cost.
    He explained that a terminal station at either College Avenue or Route 16 would require a long platform to store an extra set of train cars. But if the final stop were located at Route 16, he added, an extra parking structure would most likely be included in plans.
    Barbara Rubel, the director of community relations at Tufts, said that the university has not officially announced which proposed terminus location it supports.
    "We have not taken a formal position, but we would very much like to see it go to Route 16," she said. "We think that, as advocates of environmentally friendly efforts, it makes sense to create maximum access to public transportation. But we also recognize that we aren't the people who are impacted as the extension would get closer to Route 16."
    The next public meeting on the extension project will take place on Sept. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m. at St. Clement High School in Medford.

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