The state made its largest financial commitment to date toward the Green Line Extension project Wednesday, signing off on a 51-month $393 million contract for the construction of three new stations.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board agreed unanimously to the contract, according to a transportation official who attended the board meeting.
“This vote by the MassDOT board is historic and monumental,” Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone told the News Service. He said, “We’re really excited because it allows the first three stations to be built and the entire extension to be fully designed, and we’re really excited about what it will mean for Somerville in terms of improving quality of life, adding new jobs, creating new tax revenue, not just for Somerville.”
The stations include a new Lechmere Station across the street from the current terminal in East Cambridge, a new station Somerville’s Brickbottom neighborhood and a station in the city’s Union Square neighborhood.
MBTA Design and Construction Department Director Mary Ainsley told a Massachusetts Department of Transportation panel Tuesday that the Union Square and Brickbottom phase of the extension project is expected to be completed in 2017.
Curtatone said the station construction should begin next spring.
The Green Line Extension is required to be built by Dec. 31, 2014, though state officials and advocates have long known the deadline would be missed.
Beyond the first three stations, the project would bring the trolley line through Somerville to Medford, stopping at Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue.
Transit expansion advocates have taken heart in the Boston Region Transportation Improvement Program’s including a further extension, bringing the line out to Route 16, in long-term plans.
Previously, MassDOT executed a more modest contract for some bridge work along the route, which is expected to be completed in 2015.
The project got underway after the state settled a lawsuit with the Conservation Law Foundation in 2006, which determined the state has a legal obligation to build the project, with deadlines.
The $393 million contract was granted to White Skanska Kiewit, with a small amount of the funding going to the MBTA for staff work, Ainsley said.
“We will have to come back to the board for the remaining amount of dollars for phase three and phase four,” Ainsley said.
Curtatone, who is mulling a run for governor in 2014, said he has talked to people “around the Commonwealth” and has not made up his mind on his political intentions, though he is not considering any of the other offices that will or might be open next year.
“I’m not an office shopper,” said Curtatone, who said he agrees with Patrick in the need for “generational investment” and holds up his management of the city of roughly 77,000 just north of Boston as an example. He said, “I would run with a plan and a commitment and a passion to get the job done.”