While there remain a number of steps before construction can even begin on the proposed extension of the Green Line into Somerville and Medford, the decision earlier this month by the state’s transportation board to go ahead with the $2.3B plan gives hope that the area will soon have better mass transit options.
The new design is a scaled back version of the previous plan, calling for simpler stations, reduced bridge work, and a smaller maintenance facility, among other changes.
Despite the changes, the extension would provide better access to an increasingly popular area with young professionals. The plan would relocate Lechmere station in Cambridge, and build a new station at Union Square in Somerville, along with five new stations on the Medford Branch all the way to College Avenue.
While there’s a great deal of work remaining, the extension would make a significant impact on value for both landlords and tenants, and eventually may shift the perception of Somerville as a bedroom suburb.
“More and more Somerville is organically growing into a live/work/play environment,” said Scott Gredler, a Director at Cushman and Wakefield focused on Boston’s Inner Suburbs. “The delivery of the Green Line will certainly encourage more commercial development to a municipality that has traditionally been heavily residential.”
He added that Somerville is actually closer to Downtown Boston than 90% of Boston, so new developments will still be in close proximity to the rest of the city.
Funding approvals remain the biggest hurdle for the project, which was put on hold last year due to growing cost concerns. The extension – the result of a 1990 environmental deal linked to the Big Dig – still has a budget gap of more than $70 million (even after $75 million pledges from Cambridge and Somerville).
The project also uses nearly $1 billion in federal money, so the next step is a review of the revised plan by the Federal Transit Administration. It would then head back to the state for final approval.
The timeline on the project will be dependent on gathering the required approvals. Current estimates are that if construction is able to begin by October 2016, the project would be complete by mid or late 2021.