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Green Line project faces hurdle

Impact concerns lead to lawsuit

Medford residents Bill Wood and Carolyn Rosen have sued the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration, asserting that the environmental and social impacts of the Green Line Extension project were not studied closely enough.

“There were people who wanted to see this happen, and instead of putting the environmental issues in front, they put it behind,” Wood said Monday.

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In a 41-page lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston,  Wood and Rosen, who live in West Medford, argue that the government did not sufficiently study the environmental ­impact of moving commuter rail tracks closer to homes in order to make room for a light rail bed along the extension.

Even though the project broke ground in December, they want it halted until environmental impact questions are answered, Wood said Monday.

“What we want for them to do is study it . . . an honest study,” he said. “I can jump on board any time they do the studies and they are reasonable.”

The extension project will take the Green Line farther north, extending it from its current terminal station at ­Lechmere station in Cambridge through Somerville to Boston Avenue  at College Avenue in Medford. Seven new stops are being created along the way. It is expected to be completed by 2020. 

A potential second phase of the project would extend the line to a terminal on Route 16  near the Medford-Somerville line. That phase was approved for $8.1 million in funding in May for research and development by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization .

Although the project’s purpose is to reduce the environmental impact of transportation in the area, Wood said it has lost its focus.

“There have been no ­answers on any environmental side,” he said.

The state Department of Transportation issued a final environmental impact report on the first phase of the project in 2010, but that did not take into account the second phase to extend the line to Route 16.  Calls to a department spokesman for comment on the lawsuit and the environmental ­research that went into the project’s planning were not ­returned Monday.

The lawsuit also says project officials have not held meetings in the West Medford neighborhood to see if residents want the secondary extension to Route 16, Wood said.

Filed Jan. 18, the lawsuit names as defendants the Massa­chusetts Department of Transportation; Transportation Secretary Richard Davey; the Federal Transit Administration; and Mary Beth Mello, the Transit Administration’s  region­al director.  No court dates have been scheduled.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com andon Twitter @JarretBencks.
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