Thursday, March 21, 2013

MBTA set for Green Line LRT extension

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After years of delays and political maneuvering among elected officials, community activists, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, MBTA will finally begin work this month on right-of-way to extend its Green Line light rail transit (T) service.

The $1.3 billion project would extend the multi-branched Green Line's current common northern terminus at Lechmere Station (Cambridge) north to Somerville and Medford, Mass. , roughly parallel to Interstate 93. The project will include work on two bridges and removal of an existing building pinching existing right-of-way, which already is used by MBTA regional rail service Fitchburg and Lowell lines.

The right-of-way currently can handle both regional and light rail operations, except for the two bridges. Barletta Heavy Division, the contractor, will rebuild and widen the bridge in Somerville and the second one in Medford.

Boston-based Barletta reportedly is working with municipalities along the right-of-way to manage traffic disruptions.

Local transit advocates, some of them long frustrated by what they consider MBTA's lack of interest over many years, welcomed the imminent start of construction.

"The only thing that's going to happen is that there's going to be a lot of traffic and people aren't going to be happy about that. But we have that now," Ellin Reisner of the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP), a local transit advocacy group, told local media.

MBTA is hedging on a completion date, but has a preliminary start of revenue service set for 2019.