The Green Line extension project into Somerville and Medford from Cambridge is one of the top priorities for the MBTA. In fact, they've already broken ground on one of the new stations in Union Square. A couple of months ago, two West Medford residents showed their feelings against it -- to the tune of suing the MBTA and the DOT over environmental issues. Last week, the DOT answered in federal court.
For a refresher: that Green Line extension project, by the way, is set to travel along a commuter rail bed northbound from Lechmere Station in Cambridge to the intersection of Boston Avenue and College Avenue in Medford. The expansion is supposed to be completed by 2018, but more funding has also been approved for a second phase which would take the line all the way out to Route 16. Learn more here.
The case in question, known as Wood et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Transportation et al., was filed back in January in the US District Court in Boston. The plaintiffs in the case are two West Medford residents - William Wood and Carolyn Rosen. They filed the 41 page suit on behalf of a group called GLAM, or the Green Line Advisory Group.
They say MassDOT didn't take nearly enough time to study the environmental hazards of the Green Line Extension. Wood and Rosen maintain that the project will put residents in danger, as commuter rail tracks will be relocated too close to small businesses and homes through Medford. They say fumes and other exhaust will negatively effect the environment and could provide problems for the disabled, among other residents.
The duo also claim in their suit that the DOT's filings for an environmental approval from the Federal Transit Administration were filled with lies and false claims. They claim the agency didn't allow the public to get as involved as they should have by not holding meetings in West Medford to ask if residents actually wanted the extension. Wood and Rosen claim that, by ignoring GLAM's objections and not including them in their application to the FTA for an environmental FONSI (which translates to a Finding Of No Significant Issues), the DOT lied and shouldn't have the right to carry out the extension.
In Thursday's motion, MassDOT says the whole suit should be scrapped for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the agency says that the FONSI ruling back in 2012 from the FTA doesn't even cover the entire extension, and they were intending on reapplying if the second span to Route 16 through West Medford actually becomes a reality. They say most of the claims in the original lawsuit would be covered in another application for environmental assessments. The DOT also claims that the FONSI ruling in place was based on other environmental assessments that had already been done on the project - all of which had passed.
The DOT says that Rosen and Wood don't even really have a case, as not only are they not residents of the expansion area (according to the motion, they live two miles away from any area that's being worked on), but they can't prove that they personally will be affected negatively by the project. The agency maintains that the two also shouldn't have a right to sue as GLAM, as the group isn't incorporated -- and, they also don't have the right to sue on behalf of the entire city of Medford, as they can't personally attest to any of the complaints involved in the suit. Also, the DOT says that if they really did want to sue someone over the FONSI, it shouldn't be the state - instead, the two should be focusing their efforts on suing the FTA.
So, that's where the suit stands - and the Green Line Extension continues, as work on the Union Square station has not been halted due to the proceedings. There's no word as to when the decision to dismiss the case or not will come down, but I'll keep an eye on it.
Personally, money aside, I think the Green Line extension is a great idea -- it will provide some sorely-needed mass transit in an area that continues to grow and sorely needs it. Of course, funding is an issue, but we'll discuss that some other time.
Do you think the plaintiffs have a solid case? Do you believe the Green Line extension will be as harmful as they say? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Coming up later this week -- we'll talk about real estate values and the MBTA (how it all ties together), and a new convenience store that might be great for T riders, but is rather inconvenient for one artistic group.
You'll find slowdowns here...
Expressway/O'Neill Tunnel northbound
Two right lanes will be closed by the exit Monday through Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The on-ramps from Essex Street and Atlantic Avenue will be closed Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The off-ramp to Government Center (Exit 23) will be closed Monday through Thursday nights from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The off-ramp to the Mass Pike (Exit 20) will be closed Monday from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Expressway/O'Neill Tunnel southbound
Moving right lane closures will be in place between South Bay Center and the Braintree Split on Monday from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM for guardrail repair.
The right lane will be closed at the Braintree Split on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
The right lane will be closed at Southampton Street / Andrew Square Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
The ramps from Haymarket Square to the O'Neill Tunnel and the Callahan Tunnel will close Tuesday 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Leverett Circle to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will close on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The exit ramp to Government Center and the Callahan Tunnel (Exit 24) will close on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike westbound
The right lane will be closed in the Ted Williams Tunnel Monday and Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
The left lane will be closed in the Ted Williams Tunnel Monday through Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The on-ramp from Copley Square will close on Tuesday from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
The on-ramp from Clarendon Street will close on Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and again from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
The ramp from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel will close on Wednesday from 11:30 PM until 5:00 PM.
Mass Pike eastbound
++ CLOSED ++ at Prudential Tunnel / Copley Square (Exit 22) on Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. All traffic will be detoured off at the exit.
The right lane will be closed in the Prudential Tunnel (and the right lane also closed on the Exit 22 ramp) from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday. Watch for the left lane to be closed in the same area from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Thursday.
Two left lanes will be closed through the Prudential Tunnel Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Outbound: the right lane will be closed between the City Square Tunnel and Beacon Street on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
Inbound: the left lane will be closed after the toll plaza Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. All traffic will be taken off the highway at Rutherford Avenue.
Inbound: the right lane will be closed from the Everett Street on-ramp to the toll plaza on Thursday from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
Upper and Lower Decks
Lower Deck of 93: the carpool lane through Somerville will be closed Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Lower Deck of 93: two left lanes will be closed from the carpool lane in Somerville to the Mass Pike exit in the O'Neill Tunnel (Exit 20) Monday and Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Lower Deck of 93: two right lanes will be closed between the carpool lane in Somerville to Purchase Street (Exit 23) on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Upper Deck of 93: the right lane will be closed after Sullivan Square, Somerville (Exit 28) Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Outside of Boston:
Route 2 in both directions between Bedford Road, Lincoln and just past Crosby's Corner, Concord: road construction closes lanes Sunday through Friday from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
Route 3 northbound between Route 4 (Exit 32) and Route 40, Chelmsford (Exit 33): construction work closes lanes each Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 5:30 AM.
Route 128 in both directions between Route 135, Dedham (Exit 17) and Highland Avenue, Needham (Exit 19): continuous lane closures are in effect until further notice as part of the 128 widening project. Expect extra slowdowns, especially during mid-days, for work. Lane split still in effect southbound between Great Plain Avenue and Route 135 - will be until at least the end of 2013.
North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge, Cambridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.
Route 9 in both directions at the Hammond Pond Parkway, Newton: alternate lane closures will be in place for road work Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Sumner Tunnel: the left lane will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Route 128 northbound at Ponkapoag Trail, Milton (Exit 3): alternating double lane closures will be in place on Monday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Route 128 northbound between Route 37, Braintree (Exit 6) and Route 24, Randolph (Exit 4): left lane will be closed for guardrail repair Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike westbound at Newton Corner (Exit 17), Newton: alternating double lane closures will be set up on Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Route 1A northbound at Logan Airport: ++ CLOSURE ++ from 10:30 PM to 5:00 AM on Thursday. All traffic will be detoured into the airport.
The author is solely responsible for the content.