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Green Line extension impact report approved

Posted August 2, 2010 03:34 PM

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The state’s top energy and environmental regulation agency gave its approval last week to a report detailing the anticipated environmental impact of the Green Line extension to Medford, Cambridge, and Somerville, a “major milestone” toward the completion of the project, the report says.

The state’s certification is the latest step in what has been a five-year planning process that has drawn ire and interest from community groups, advocacy organizations, local governments, and citizens concerned with the project’s design and impact on the communities it will traverse.

“… Extension of any light rail service through an active urban corridor such as Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford is a challenging and complex endeavor,” wrote Ian Bowles, Secretary for the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“However, throughout the [Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act] process, the majority of comment letters have generally expressed overall support for the concept of expanding light rail service to the affected communities.”


With the environmental report completed, transportation officials may now enter the permitting stage, according to the report.

Hundreds of citizens, advocacy groups, and businesses from the neighborhoods that will be impacted by the massive plan contributed comments.  

The report details citizen’s concerns, and the anticipated impact of construction on air quality, nearby watersheds, rainwater runoff, vehicular traffic, noise pollution, vibration issues, and a host of others. Public comment took place from the beginning of June until the end of July.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs estimates that once completed, the extension will add about 50,000 trips per day to MBTA ridership.

But the project – expected  to cost $954 million and take 10 months longer to complete than previously thought – has run into legal problems.

The extension is part of a deal between state and federal authorities to offset the environmental impacts of the Big Dig. That agreement stipulated that the Green Line extension be completed by 2014. Now state authorities estimate the project will not be completed until October 2015.

The latest air quality assessments estimate that by the year 2025, levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds will more than satisfy current federal standards, the report says.

The project would entail the construction of seven new Green Line stations on two new branches of track expected to extend to Union Square in Somerville and to Medford Hills side. 

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