I was thrilled to join U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, and several of my colleagues from the legislature yesterday in celebration of a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend the MBTA Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford.
The Green Line Extension (GLX) project will include construction of six new stations, purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles, construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, construction of a community bicycle and pedestrian path, and relocation of some existing commuter rail track.
Governor Patrick said that, “today’s funding commitment means that the citizens of Somerville, Cambridge and Medford are going to have their options for how they get to work, school and play increase, and in turn, experience an increase in sustainable, smart growth for both their personal and cities’ economies.”
My good friend Congressman Capuano echoed Governor Patrick’s enthusiasm and pointed out that bringing Green Line stops to Somerville has been decades in the making and will provide faster and more efficient travel to downtown Boston serving some of the Northeast region’s most densely populated communities.
Dr. Scott reminded the buoyant crowd at the Somerville High School Auditorium that the GLX project will increase development opportunities in Cambridge, Medford and Somerville through the GLX MassWIN program. The MassWIN (Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now) program is an effort to build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects focused on workforce investment, education achievement, business development and city improvement.
The goals of the program are to train residents to meet the hiring requirements for local transportation and construction jobs; place trained community members in transportation and construction career paths; grow the local workforce and economic base; and support sustainable communities by expanding the local workforce, businesses and neighborhoods.
This federal grant agreement represents a giant step toward attaining environmental justice for thousands of Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford residents. The amount of work that advocates, residents, and the GLX project team have put into achieving this milestone has been remarkable, and we should be proud of this substantial investment in our public transit system.
However, there is still much work left to be done. The project will be constructed in four overlapping phases from 2013 to 2020; Phase I work began in January 2013 to widen two rail bridges that will carry the new Green Line tracks. Construction on the new Lechmere, East Somerville and Union Square stations will begin this spring, and I will continue to work closely with the MBTA, GLX Project team, residents, and local businesses to help minimize construction impacts and to ensure that MassWIN fulfills its local hiring goals.