Medford branch of Green Line Extension set to open this summer

Green Line Extension construction is pictured near the Joyce Cummings Center on April 28. Quan Tran / The Tufts Daily

The Medford branch of the MBTA’s Green Line Extension — which includes a stop on College Avenue, adjacent to the Tufts campus — is on track to open this summer after a slew of delays.

The contract for construction on the GLX was awarded in November 2017, nearly five years ago. After several delays, the Union Square branch opened on March 21, providing easier access from parts of Somerville to downtown Boston. Upon completion, the Medford branch will have five stops through both Somerville and Medford, the last of which will be located on College Avenue, next to the Joyce Cummings Center and Dowling Hall.

The MBTA’s website summarized the purpose of the GLX project.

“GLX will provide service in areas that historically did not have access to fast and reliable public transit,” the website reads. “By supporting an increased ridership of more than 50,000 trips per day, this project will significantly reduce vehicle emissions on the road.”

Lisa Battiston, deputy press secretary for the MBTA, further explained some of the benefits that the GLX will bring to Medford and Somerville residents, as well as to Tufts students.

“When fully complete, Green Line trains will operate every five to six minutes in the peak periods, providing fast and efficient service in areas that did not previously have access to reliable public transit,” Battiston wrote in an email to the Daily. “GLX will also significantly reduce vehicle emissions on the road by supporting anticipated increased ridership and dramatically improve local and regional air quality when GLX is complete.”

Several weeks after the opening of the Union Square branch, Brad Rawson, director of transportation and infrastructure for the city of Somerville, reflected on the GLX’s progress thus far.

“The MBTA GLX service to Union Square and the new Lechmere station is operating safely, with daytime service frequencies of 7-10 minutes and typical travel times of roughly 3 minutes between Union Square and Lechmere,” Rawson wrote in an email to the Daily. “Union Square station can be accessed from Prospect Street and from Allen Street, although several interim and temporary conditions exist while nearby construction is completed. Given the active and ongoing nature of GLX construction, testing and training, we advise patience during these early months of operations.”

Rawson emphasized that the city of Somerville and its residents are looking forward to the completion of the project this summer and the easier access it will provide between Somerville and Boston.

“When the Medford branch of the GLX opens, tens of thousands of Somerville residents, workers and visitors will have new choices to get around the City and the region without driving,” he wrote. “The GLX will provide many Somerville residents with more travel choices, offering typical service frequencies between 7-10 minutes and the option of a one-seat transit trip to key regional destinations such as the Fenway or Longwood neighborhoods of Boston.”

Medford city officials did not return the Daily’s requests for comment.

Acknowledging some of the frustrations regarding delays in the GLX’s rollout, Battiston emphasized that the project is moving forward and is still set to be finished this summer.

“The MBTA continues to track toward this summer for the start of service on the Medford branch,” Battiston wrote. “Work continues on power, communication, train control, and signal systems. This will be followed by testing and the commissioning process (the same activities that preceded the start of service on the Union branch). Crews are also in the final stages of electrical work at each newly built station. All of these ongoing activities have required a little more time than originally anticipated, but the work has been advancing at a good pace in recent months. The MBTA appreciates that there is much anticipation about the opening of the Medford branch, and the MBTA is grateful for the public’s patience as plans are readied for another GLX celebration in the coming months.”

In March, the opening of the Union Square branch was marked by a celebration, with speeches delivered by a number of public officials, including Governor Charlie Baker, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Mayor Katjana Ballantyne of Somerville.

Rawson also thanked Somerville residents for dealing with the delays in construction over the past several years.

“Our community has exhibited incredible patience and tolerance for the impacts and inconvenience of this massive construction effort,” Rawson wrote. “The City is grateful to our residents, workers, business owners and visitors for their courage and compassion during this challenging period.”

Rawson also noted that Somerville residents have relied on public transit for years, but that the completion of the GLX will make it even easier for residents to get around.

“Somerville is already one of the most transit-oriented cities in America, and with the new GLX service we anticipate that even more of our residents, workers and visitors will choose to take the T for a variety of trips,” he wrote.


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