Green Line Extension Medford branch testing to begin this summer, Medford/Tufts station to open in December

A sign promoting the MBTA Green Line Extension project is pictured on April 17, 2018. Evan Slack / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Medford branch of the Green Line Extension, which will include the Medford/Tufts stop on College Avenue, remains on track to be operational by December. The Union Square branch, terminating in Union Square, will begin service this October, according to a March 29 presentation by MBTA General Manager Steven Poftak. 

The branches’ staggered openings aim to optimize the allocation of MBTA staff for the testing and commissioning phases that come before revenue service, MBTA Deputy Press Secretary Lisa Battiston explained to the Daily in an email. 

“The project team continues to target the end of the year for the start of passenger service on both branches,” Battiston said. 

The $2.3 billion project was contracted in 2017 and will extend the Green Line from its current northern terminus at Lechmere to College Avenue in Medford and Union Square in Somerville. 

The Medford/Tufts stop will be the new northern terminus of the Green Line’s E branch, which carries trains through Downtown Boston and the Back Bay before terminating at Heath Street. The Union Square station will be the northern terminus of the D branch, which carries trains through downtown Boston and Newton before terminating at Riverside.

According to the “Notice of Project Change,” a document detailing the Green Line Extension, “The project includes the relocation of the existing commuter rail tracks, the construction of 4.3 miles of new Green Line tracks and systems, one relocated station and six new stations, construction of multi-span viaducts and reconstruction of bridge structures, and a new vehicle maintenance facility.”

Five of the new stations will be on the Medford branch, and the Union Square stop will be the one new station on the Union Square branch. The Lechmere station will be relocated and reconstructed.

As of Feb. 22, 40% of the Green Line track had been placed, and 1.1 miles of new concrete viaduct construction had been completed, according to a construction update by John Dalton, the program manager. 

The timeline for the Medford/Tufts stop is in line with the university’s expectations.

“The Green Line Extension team has kept Tufts University apprised of their timeline throughout the construction project,” Rocco DiRico, director of government and community relations, wrote to the Daily in an email. “We look forward to both the Joyce Cummings Center and the Green Line Extension projects to be completed by the end of this year.”

Residents can expect to see Green Line trolleys operating on the Green Line Extension while the tracks are being tested.

“The Testing & Commissioning effort is already underway on the Union Branch and will commence this summer on the Medford Branch,” Battiston said. “In the coming months, Green Line vehicles will be operating on the new tracks to support the testing and commissioning effort.”

According to the “Notice of Project Change” document, the Green Line Extension is also expected to have a significant positive effect on the communities it is about to serve. It explained that the Green Line Extension would reduce vehicle trips and air pollution, provide service in areas that historically have been without reliable public transit and support over 50,000 trips per day.

“The project represents a major investment by the Commonwealth in urban mass transit in an effort to provide critical transportation, air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and urban redevelopment benefits along the project corridor,” the document said. 

DiRico explained how those benefits would extend to the Tufts community. 

“The Medford/Tufts Green Line Station will have a tremendously positive impact on Tufts University,” DiRico said. “It will make it easier for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to come to campus using mass transportation. It will reduce the number of vehicles on local roads, which will have both traffic and environmental benefits. Finally, the new station will connect our Medford/Somerville campus with our Mission Hill/Fenway campus at the SMFA, which is also on the E line, and to our Chinatown campus.”

DiRico said he is grateful for the collaboration of all parties on this project, and he looks forward to the completion of both the Green Line Extension and Cummings Center projects.

“There has been a great deal of collaboration between the MBTA, the City of Medford, the City of Somerville, and Tufts University on the Green Line Extension project,” he said. “We are fortunate that this new MBTA station will be located next to the Joyce Cummings Center. Together, the two projects will create a new gateway to our Medford/Somerville campus.”