US officials pledge to fund MBTA extension
Federal officials and politicians gathered in Somerville Monday to formally announce a pledge of $996 million in federal funding for the extension of the Green Line into Medford and Somerville.
The $2.29 billion project will extend the light rail line 4.7 miles from a relocated Lechemere Station in Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford.
Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone called the extension a historic milestone that will lower unemployment and help families save money by making it easier to get to jobs.
“We’re building more than a light rail line,” Curtatone told the audience of community members and other local officials gathered at Somerville High School. “We’re building the backbone of a resilient, sustainable economy.”
The Federal Transit Administration recommended funding more than 40 percent of the project on Dec. 1., but Congress had 30 days to review the project before transit officials officially signed off on the agreement. The state will pay the remaining costs.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, and US Representative Michael E. Capuano joined Curtatone, Governor Deval Patrick, and other officials for the event. Each thanked the outgoing governor for his commitment to the project.
Capuano, once mayor of Somerville, recalled how the Green Line extension had been discussed for decades. When he graduated from Somerville High School in 1969, he said, officials spoke then of a need for a Green Line stop behind the school on Highland Avenue.
He urged state officials to make sure the state provides funding to see the project to completion. The first portion — the new Lechmere Station, and the Union and Washington Street stations — is scheduled to be completed by 2017.
“We need to make sure that the commitment doesn’t fall off the table,” Capuano said.