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‘It’s finally real’: Somerville to host two events to celebrate opening of Green Line Extension into Medford

The next section of the branch will welcome riders beginning Dec. 12.

Construction at the Ball Square T station in April.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Even Somerville officials can’t believe it’s actually happening.

The city will host a series of events next week to celebrate the long-awaited (and long-delayed) opening of the next section of the Green Line extension, which after years of setbacks will take riders all the way into Medford.

“It’s finally real,” city officials said in a statement Monday, which detailed an opening day event and a separate “community event” to be held this month in celebration of the upgrades. “Passenger service will begin on the Medford Branch’s five shiny, new T stops on Monday, December 12. So, of course, Somerville is going to celebrate — two times.”

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The new stations opening along the Medford branch are in East Somerville, Gilman Square, Magoun Square, Ball Square, and College Avenue, near Tufts University. Once it opens, the new line will likely accommodate more than 50,000 riders daily. A second branch currently goes to Union Square.

The announcement, which seemed to stun even those who have advocated tirelessly for the Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford, comes after “decades of advocacy, a lawsuit, endless planning, delays, a miraculous win of federal funding, more advocacy, an 11th hour save via a $50 million payment, bridge closures, travel disruptions, and several years of less-than-welcome construction impacts,” officials said.

The opening day event will be held Dec. 12 at the new Ball Square station, where Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, transit advocates, and city staff will greet passengers between 7 and 8 a.m. as they board trains there for the first time. People will also be entertained by an early-morning band and receive “free opening day memorabilia,” officials said.

“As a frequent rider myself, I look forward to seeing my neighbors on the T soon — and at our two upcoming celebrations,” Ballantyne said in a statement. The first ride from Ball Square will be at 4:45 a.m.

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A second event will take place Dec. 17 at the newly renovated Somerville High School and feature live music, indoor and outdoor activities, an oral history project, and a food truck and hot cocoa, officials said.

It’s being held at the school so residents and other transit fans can walk down the street to the city’s new Gilman Square station, which is right around the corner.

In August, the MBTA announced that the latest Green Line branch, which was originally slated to open in December 2021, would open in late November. But the date got pushed back once again — something people anticipating its arrival had grown accustomed to.

“We had some additional work we wanted to get done. We also wanted to be sure that we were doing everything we needed to do, not only on the Medford branch, but across our system,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, who is stepping down from his post in January, said at a board meeting last month. “I look forward to seeing you all at approximately 4:45 a.m. for the grand opening of service.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.