The Somerville News
by Jeremy F. van der Heiden
For years now, the City of Somerville, along with representatives of several other areas in the eastern region of Massachusetts, have fought to expand the Green Line further to reach more residents. Mayor Joseph Curtatone recently announced a victory for this battle, applauding the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO) decision to approve a substantial piece of funding for this transportation project.
According to a release from the Mayor's office, the MPO recently approved $8.1 million worth of funding to go toward the research, development and construction of a Rt. 16 Green Line stop as part of the Green Line Extension Project (GLX). The vote, nineteen to two in favor of the project, was in support of Governor Deval Patrick's desire to make this part of the state's Federal Fiscal Years 2013-2016 Transportation Improvement Project (TIP).
Communications from Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino, 34th Middlesex District, indicate that last year officials were able to establish the project's foothold in the 2016-2020 Federal Fiscal Years TIP. The recent decision, made at a Boston MPO April 19 meeting, will expedite the project and boast many rewards for those currently living in the target region.
After getting word that the aforementioned meeting might be an integral moment for the success or failure of the project, Representative Sciortino declared a call to action to attend the meeting and exhibit support of the GLX's Rt. 16 project. Had the most recent decision not been made in its favor, Sciortino believed that it would have been much harder to keep the project alive down the road when the 2016 fiscal year rolled around. Additionally, this would have halted the important developmental operations that must be carried out to solidify the plan, such as further research of the area, surveying of the land, and more.
Had the decision not gone this way, it might have served a finishing blow to the Route 16 extension, as the project, legally, had viewed College Avenue as the terminus. The MPO's approval sealed the Route 16 stop as one with the entire GLX project, as opposed to a separate project to be created at the overarching programs completion. Many involved believed it would likely never happen if talks would not resume until around 2016.
"It's important to remember that the Route 16 stop was originally planned to be the terminus because it is ideal," Representative Sciortino explained. "It's located in an incredibly dense neighborhood at the intersection of Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, right on the Route 16, Alewife Brook and Mystic River biking-pedestrian pathway, which will be a feature of the stop."
"The land use at that location has incredible economic development potential, and integrating it into the plan generates revenue back into the area, potentially funding more affordable housing for the neighborhood," he continued.
Representative Sciortino knew that by keeping consistent and strong pressure on the Boston MPO, as well as showing the huge amount of support for the project that has been around since the beginning of the GLX talks, the region could come out with a victory. He also explained that this was a group effort by a variety of departments and individuals, and expressed his gratitude for these parties' resolve.
Mayor Curtatone, a key player in this public triumph, described how the Route 16 stop will impact residents across the state.
"This is a project with incredible environmental benefits and for our quality of life, and also has a huge economic upside for the entire Commonwealth, creating tens of thousands of net new jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue," he explained.
Additionally, Mayor Curtatone noted the strength of those he works with, across the region, to accomplish this goal.
"The whole delegation has been strong advocates and are great partners to work with on this particular project. It was also impressive to have so many members of the public from Arlington, Somerville, Cambridge and Medford coming out, as they have so many times, to support the Green Line Extension," he said.
The Mayor expressed his gratitude for the MPO's endorsement as well as the support from MassDOT, and explained that he and the entirety of the delegation will continue to fight to ensure the project's successful completion.
The project is now in the public hearing phase, while the final hearing regarding the decision will occur before month's end. More information on this project can be found at the City of Somerville's websitehttp://www.somervillema.gov/.