State wants Green Line extension plan by Thanksgiving

A decision is expected this spring on the future of the Green Line extension.
The Green Line Extension into Somerville is facing steep cost concerns. –The Boston Globe

The MBTA expects to soon hire analysts to help officials understand how the costs of the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford expanded so sharply.

The agency revealed in August that the long-planned project had seen its previous $2 billion price tag increase by as much as $1 billion more, a circumstance dire enough for officials to say scrapping the project is a possibility.

The state plans to bring an auditing firm on board next week to take a thorough look at what went wrong, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack said Monday. The T’s new governing body, its Fiscal and Management Control Board, had originally asked for that kind of analysis a few weeks ago. A preliminary report will be due in late October, Pollack said.

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The state is also planning to bring in outside counsel to assist with analyzing the options going forward, which could include negotiating with the project’s contractor or rebidding the contract.

The extension’s contracting method will likely figure heavily in the analyses. The method, which allows the contractor to set a maximum price for each phase of the project, has received early blame from some observers for the cost increases. But Pollack has cautioned that putting the contract back out to bid may not have an effect on the price.

“It only makes sense to do that if we know that in fact it will save time, money, or both,’’ she told reporters following a meeting of the control board.

The agency is also considering other ways to get costs down and ways to find more funding.

A plan will be in place before the end of the fall, Pollack said, echoing comments from Gov. Charlie Baker last week.

“We … intend to have the strategy in place by Thanksgiving,’’ Pollack said. “That doesn’t mean that, for example, if we decided to rebid we would have rebid by Thanksgiving, that means the decision would have been made.’’

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