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Medford residents file suit over Green Line Extension

Posted by Jarret Bencks  January 28, 2013 10:52 AM

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Medford residents Bill Wood and Carolyn Rosen have sued the state and Federal Transit Administration, claiming the environmental and social impacts of the Green Line Extension Project were not studied closely enough.

In a 41-page lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston earlier this month, Wood and Rosen - who live on Bussell Road in West Medford - claim, among other things, that the government didn't sufficiently study the environmental impact of moving commuter rail tracks closer to homes in order to make room for a light rail bed along the extension.

And even though the project broke ground in December, they want it halted until environmental impact questions are answered, Wood said Monday.

"What we want for them to do is study it ... an honest study," Wood said Monday. "I can jump on board any time they do the studies and they are reasonable."

The extension project will take the Green Line farther north along a commuter rail bed, extending it from its current terminal station at Lechmere in Cambridge through Somerville to Boston Avenue at College Avenue in Medford, creating seven new stops along the way. It is expected to be completed by 2020.

A potential second phase of the project would extend the line to a terminal station on Route 16 near the Medford/Somerville line. That phase was recently approved for $8.1 million in funding research and development.

The project is mandated as part of the settlement of a lawsuit between the state and the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, over environmental impacts of Boston's Big Dig project.

Although the project's purpose is to reduce the environmental impact of transportation in the area, Wood said the project's development has lost its focus.

"There were people who wanted to see this happen, and instead of putting the environmental issues in front, they put it behind," he said.

The lawsuit also claims the state failed to study potential social impacts in reviewing the project. The state's Department of Transportation hasn't held any meetings in the West Medford neighborhood to see if residents there actually want the secondary extension on Route 16, Wood said.

"It wasn't done socially correct, organizationally wise," he said.

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 18. It names as defendants the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, the Federal Transit Administration, and Mary Beth Mello, the FTA's regional director. No court dates have been scheduled.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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