A group of Medford residents presented transportation officials last week with a petition indicating "broad support" for extending the Green Line all the way to Route 16.
At a Green Line Project Advisory Board meeting, the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance handed over a petition with 2,022 signatures to state officials who are expected to make a decision next month on whether the Green Line should be extended to Route 16 or College Avenue, closer to the Somerville line. The group also presented demographic data that showed around 9,000 residents would live within a half-mile walk from a Route 16 stop.
Alliance member Ken Krause said the data and the petition made a strong case that Route 16 would be the best option because the stop would be more centrally located for Medford, Somerville, and Arlington residents.
"Our petition shows that this had broad support from the community," Krause said at a press conference unveiling the details of the petition. "A terminus at College Ave. would attract more cars and would introduce more traffic to an already highly dense area."
But Robert Kangas, a longtime resident of Orchard Street, which is between the two proposed stops, said the neighbors he knows don't want the T station at Route 16. "It's the worst intersection in the city," the 75-year-old resident said. "The homeowners don't want it there. The renters do. I prefer it going to College Ave."
In May, state transportation officials announced plans for the Green Line extension that included a route through the Medford Hillside section. However, transportation officials have been weighing the pros and cons of where the stop should finally rest so most residents in the area could benefit. State officials have been holding sessions for public and neighborhood feedback.
The proposed Green Line stop is aimed at serving residents in Medford, Somerville, and Arlington, and Tufts University.
Stephen M. Woelfel, the state transportation office's lead official for the project, said no final decision has been made. Woelfel said he also was aware of the citizens' petition. "We'll continue to evaluate the proposals and we take all public comments into consideration," he said.
Doug Carr, an alliance member who lives 500 feet from the proposed Route 16 stop, said the petition was collected over a seven-week period and is "the best vehicle to show public support" for opening a Route 16 station. "It will be walking-friendly and biking-friendly," he said. "The buses are major feeders to the area so riders can get to it easily."
Krause said the Route 16 terminus would have no parking available so as not to attract too many cars. "This will not be a park-and-ride station," said Krause. "Riders can go to Alewife for that."
Krause acknowledged that some motorists will inevitably be attracted to the Route 16 stop and be tempted to park in the residential area to ride into work. He said Medford would probably have to step up parking enforcement to make sure outsiders don't park cars on neighborhood streets.
Medford resident Nicole Patterson said she was "conflicted" between the two proposals. She and her husband own a condominium on Orchard Street and live between the two proposed stations. "I still have a lot of unanswered questions," said Patterson. If the Green Line route went through the neighborhood, she asked, "Will our condo lose property value and will our homes become unsellable?"
Patterson said she's also worried that the concerns of working-class residents are not being heard because they can't come to some of the scheduled public meetings.
And if the stop ends up at College Ave.?
"I'd be thrilled," Patterson said.
Russell Contreras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.