Green Line Extension Set to Pick Up Major Federal Funding

–File photo

The Green Line Extension into Somerville and Medford looks like it will be bolstered by the federal funding state officials expected. In a letter to Congress Monday, Federal Transit Administration Acting Administrator Therese McMillan wrote that the agency plans to put more than $996 million in grant funding toward the planned 4.7-mile, seven-station rail project. That will cover 43 percent of the agency’s estimated total project cost of about $2.3 billion. The rest of the costs will be covered by the state through bonds and operating funds, according to the letter.

The state bumped the extension’s costs earlier this year from $1.4 billion to closer to $2 billion (a figure that included a comfy “budgetary cushion’’). MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said the estimate has not since increased, but that the funding agreement from the FTA includes the debt service.

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Plans call for the Green Line to ultimately branch off in two directions from a new Lechmere station, with one line heading over to Somerville’s Union Square and the other spanning five stations and ending at College Avenue in Medford.

The project has been on the table for years as a legally binding environmental mitigation effort in the wake of the Big Dig. But it has faced numerous delays, as earlier plans had it up and running by now. The project got moving in 2012, and the first two stations (at Washington Street in Somerville, as part of the College Avenue line, and in Union Square) are currently expected to open in late 2017. The rest are planned to be operating in 2020 or 2021. In the meantime, station design planning is well underway, as are plans for development in some of the stations’ surrounding neighborhoods—and, of course, concerns about the rent effects in those areas.

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