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STARTS & STOPS

State still wants Green Line extension, South Coast rail

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/file

Irving Fischman (center), of Somerville, looked at plans for scaled-back plans for the MBTA Green Line extension project during a community forum at the Somerville Armory earlier this month.

By Nicole Dungca Globe Staff 

For months, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has been formulating a five-year plan laying out the biggest future rail and highway investments in the state.

Last week, officials finally gave the public a sneak peek at their plans, which still include such controversial projects as the Green Line extension and a long-talked-about project restoring commuter rail service between Boston and South Coast cities such as New Bedford.

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The $14.3 billion capital plan for 2017 through 2021 is still being worked out, but state officials say that, so far, they want to spend most of the money — about 60 percent — on making the highway and transit system more reliable.

Some of those highlights include a proposed $2 billion program that could reduce the proportion of bridges that are structurally deficient to under 5 percent, officials said.

About $1.6 billion is proposed for designing and purchasing new Red, Orange, and Green line trains and buses for the MBTA.

In addition, about $90 million would go to maintain commuter rail locomotives, and another $150 million would go toward commuter rail coaches. More than $1 billion is proposed for track, signal, and power projects on subway and commuter rail lines.

But some money will also go toward expansion: Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the current version of the five-year plan includes the Green Line extension, even though the MBTA’s fiscal control board has not yet decided whether to go through with the much-anticipated project.

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Another $148 million will go toward the oft-discussed South Coast rail project to New Bedford, with the money set aside for steps such as early design and permits.

Officials also noted that $26 million will be included for a Blue Hill Avenue station, which the T is required to complete. There is also funding for one phase of a project to extend the Silver Line into Chelsea, and officials are seeking more funding for the next phase.

Officials say the proposed $14.3 billion spending plan could grow even further, particularly as the Transportation Department and the MBTA go after federal grants and public-private partnerships.

Transportation officials will hold public meetings in April on the five-year plan.

Government Center reopens

The days of Boston not having a Government Center MBTA stop are coming to an end: The station will reopen Monday after being closed for two years.

The station was closed in 2014, shifting riders to other nearby stops, such as Downtown Crossing, Park Street, and State.

A $82 million overhaul was undertaken to make the Government Center station more accessible to those with disabilities, including new elevators and rebuilt escalators.

But the project has also made the station more inviting. The old station, which some said resembled a bomb shelter or army bunker, looked right at home next to City Hall’s Brutalist architecture.

Instead of brick, riders who use the new station will see glass, glass, and more glass: 358 panels of it, in fact.

And all those glass panels have been installed twice, after workers noticed a manufacturer’s defect fogging up the new windows last year.

On Monday, transit officials will hold a dedication ceremony at about 11:30 a.m.

Service is expected to start at the new station at about 12:30 p.m., according to the MBTA’s alerts.


Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.