Posted by Marcia Dick December 11, 2012 06:20 PM
Jarret BencksSOMERVILLE — Officials celebrated the start of construction on the Green Line Extension Tuesday in Somerville, where Governor Deval Patrick said the project will be finished whether it receives federal funding or not.
“Growth requires investment,” Patrick said. “And investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure, just like this project, is a strategy that works.”
Patrick was joined by US Representative Michael Capuano (D-Somerville), and other officials in the back of a parking lot on Somerville Avenue with the railroad bridge over Medford Street as a backdrop.
Reiterating statements he made last year, Capuano said it was critical that as much of the project be completed as possible while Patrick is still governor.
“We need to get as much of this project done and committed in an irrevocable way before he leaves office,” Capuano said.
Adding more subway stops in Somerville is long overdue, Capuano said. Somerville has the fourth-highest usage of the MBTA's system, yet only has one subway stop -- Davis Square on the Red Line.
"This is a matter of equity," he said. "This is a long time coming."
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said the project was "as momentous as any in the history" of the city.
"You cannot have a growing and sustainable twenty-first century economy without a growing and sustainable twenty-first century transportation system," he said.
Reconstruction of the bridge over Medford Street, along with another railroad bridge over Harvard Street in Medford, and the demolition of an MBTA-owned building in East Cambridge, all are part of the project’s first phase, expected to be completed sometime in 2014 at a cost of $12.9 million.
The total cost of the extension was most recently projected at $1.3 billion. It will extend the Green Line through Somerville to College Avenue in Medford, creating six new stops. A Union Square station in Somerville is expected to open by 2017, and all stops are expected to be completed by 2020. An additional stop near Route 16 in Medford may be added in the future.
Completing the project was part of the settlement of a lawsuit between the state and the Conservation Law Foundation over environmental and health risks that resulted from the Big Dig.
The state is seeking $557 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, and the extension will be part of the state’s financial strategy to address transportation needs, which will be presented next year, Patrick said.
“We can’t not do it,” he said.
Jarret Bencks can be reached at email@example.com.