fb-pixel Skip to main content

Green Line Extension to Medford was set to start service in December, then May, then this summer. Now? ‘Tracking for late summer,’ T says.

Construction at the Magoun Square T station earlier this spring.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Memorial Day is behind us. The official start of summer is a few weeks away. But Medford and Somerville residents may be waiting nearly another four months for the second branch of the Green Line Extension to open.

Slated to start carrying passengers in December, then May, then this summer, the branch and its five new stations are now scheduled to open for business in “late summer,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo via e-mail. Test trains have been operating along the new branch since May 14, he said.

Construction continues at the five new stations along the Medford branch: College Avenue, Ball Square, Magoun Square, Gilman Square, and East Somerville. Crews are finishing up things like painting, patching chipped concrete, landscaping, fencing, and installing permanent signage and noise mitigation panels, Pesaturo said.

Advertisement



He declined to specify which month the T is aiming to open the stations.

The second branch’s opening is highly anticipated after the shorter branch to Somerville’s Union Square opened in March to much celebration from residents, activists, and elected officials.

Laurel Ruma is a Green Line Extension citizen representative charged with communicating with the communities around the Medford branch’s northern stops and the MBTA about the project. She said people are anxious to see the stations open after enduring years of construction in their backyards.

“Whether it’s late summer or early fall, we know it’s within sight,” she said. “You can see the stations are built, bike racks are in, it looks like a train station right now.”

Ruma and community groups she works with have pushed politicians for decades to stick with the project the state first promised in 1990 as part of an agreement with the Conservation Law Foundation, a legal advocacy group, to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Big Dig, which buried Interstate 93 beneath the center of the city. The foundation sued the state in 2005, accusing it of stalling the project. In 2007, the state agreed to complete the project by 2014, including extending the Green Line’s Medford branch to Route 16, farther than the current project calls for.

Advertisement



After the entire thing was nearly scrapped when costs ballooned above $3 billion, the T brought in John Dalton to get the project back on track in 2016. He credits the T’s decision to make the extension a “stand-alone operation” with its own human resources, legal, and procurement teams, with bringing it back from the brink, he said earlier this year at the first branch’s opening.

The entire $2.3 billion project, which includes both branches, does not stretch to Route 16, as far as previously promised.

Ruma calls the College Avenue Station the “temporary terminus” of the Green Line Extension and is urging the MBTA to conduct an environmental review of extending the line to Route 16, the Mystic Valley Parkway.

“It’s ripe for having a walk-up train station,” she said. “Our argument as community advocates is that there is money available for an environmental review.”

Earlier this year, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the extension to Route 16 was still in the “planning and permitting phase” and faced a “funding hurdle.” The project is not featured in the MBTA’s recently approved capital spending plan for the next five years.


Taylor Dolven can be reached at taylor.dolven@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @taydolven.