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State looks to have Green Line Extension lawsuit thrown out

Posted by Jarret Bencks  March 26, 2013 09:54 AM

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The state is seeking to have a lawsuit against the Green Line Extension Project thrown out, arguing that its main complaints surround a portion of the project that has not been fully approved yet, and that the West Medford couple that filed the suit did not specify how they were negatively impacted by the project.

The Attorney General's office filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, brought West Medford residents Bill Wood and Carolyn Rosen, last Friday.

Wood and Rosen, as well as a group named the Green Line Advisory Group of Medford, sued the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration in January, asserting that the environmental and social impacts of the Green Line Extension project were not studied closely enough.

The 41-page lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Boston, argues that the government did not 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 before declaring a finding of no significant impact to the environment.

The lawsuit also highlights the lack of study into the environmental impact and community involvement of a possible second extension of the Green Line to Mystic Valley Parkway. As currently planned, the extension will end at College Avenue in Medford, adding seven stops along the way in Somerville by 2020.

In an accompanying memo filed with the motion to dismiss, Jo Ann Shotwell Kaplan wrote that the proposed second extension had still not been fully approved, and if it were approved, it would be subject to further study.

Wood and Rosen failed to identify any injury caused to themselves, or the Green Line Advisory Group of Medford, as result of the claims they made, the memo said.

"Even if GLAM could sue in a representational capacity, its standing to do so would depend on whether its members would have standing to sue in their own right, which would necessitate the same kind of alleged injury specific to them that the individual plaintiffs in this action must demonstrate," the memo said.

Kaplan also pointed out the proximity of Wood and Rosen's West Medford home to the project. The couple lives on Bussell Road, about two miles from the planned station on College Avenue, and one mile from the possible station on Mystic Valley Parkway.

"Since the individual plaintiffs reside some two miles beyond the Project’s terminus, any interest they might claim based on their place of residence would be expected to afford them standing, if at all, only in connection with the potential future Mystic Valley Parkway Extension," Kaplan wrote

Questions over the finding of no significant impact to the environment would have to be answered by the FTA, which made then finding, according to the memo.

The FTA had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of March 26. Judge F. Dennis Saylor will consider the state's motion to dismiss.

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