Earlier this month, a Boston Globe article informed Boston residents that they may have to wait another four months before the rest of MBTA’s 4.7-mile Green Line Extension connecting Lechmere to Medford and Somerville is complete. The new extension was originally supposed to open last December. The date was moved to May, and it’s now expected to open in late summer, according to an MBTA spokesperson.
The Green Line extension past Lechmere was originally promised during the Big Dig in 1990, but was later put on hold due to going over budget. In 2007, the state began planning the extension again and in 2013 awarded a contract to White-Kiewit-Skanska to begin construction. In the best Big Dig tradition, the project was nearly scrapped due to budget overruns, with its price tag topping $3 billion due to a new approach the MBTA took towards construction that proved to be faulty. White-Kiewit-Skanaska were then terminated.
In 2016, with a new project manager, the project was scaled back and rebid. The commonwealth awarded a contract to GLX Constructors in 2017 to begin building the new extension with the total estimated budget of $2.28 billion. GLX Constructors is not a single company, but rather a team composed of five different companies. The five companies that comprise GLX are Fluor Corporation, Middlesex Corporation, Herzog Contractor, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc, and STV Firm.
Construction on the Green Line Extension began in 2018 when the federal government released $100 million to help the MBTA finance the project as a part of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), between the MBTA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that pledged the federal government would provide $996 million of the $2.28 billion budget. When the project started in 2018, according to Pioneer Institute’s MassOpenBooks, the MBTA paid GLX Constructors $52,171,499. In 2019 the MBTA paid GLX $127,441,654 and in 2020, the T paid another $265,373,640. From 2018 to 2020 the MBTA paid GLX Constructors a total of $444,986,793. During the same period from 2018 to 2020, the MBTA also paid GLX Pm-Cm Partners a total of $12,968,979. In total, the MBTA paid $457,955,772 to GLX vendors from 2018 to 2020 .
Somerville and Cambridge also pitched in a total of $75 million to help get the project started when it was in its planning stages in 2015. Until 2021, Somerville and Cambridge paid roughly $28 million towards the project. In November of 2021, the MBTA voted to cancel the additional $30 million from Somerville and Cambridge because the project was being completed under budget with GLX Project Manager John Dalton saying, “Based on where we stand in general on the project, all of the project’s primary risk exposures have been either avoided, transferred, mitigated or absorbed.” “We are well out of what I’ll consider the risk window for high-cost risks to the project.” Medford and Somerville residents may have to wait another four months until the Green Line Extension is operating, but the good news is that the project is coming in way under the original proposed budget of $3 billion and under the improved budget of $2.28 billion.
Mitchell Bove is a Roger Perry Government Transparency Intern at the Pioneer Institute for Summer 2022. He is a rising junior at Suffolk University with a major in U.S. History and minors in Media & Film.