The Federal Transit Administration, on April 4, green lighted the new estimated cost structure for the long-delayed Green Line Extension. The $2.3-billion MBTA light rail extension slated to finished by the end of 2021 will include seven new stations and two new branches emanating from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and to College Avenue in Medford.
The milestone comes almost a year after the project was revitalized when Massachusetts transportation officials decided to move forward a scaled-down version of the 4.5-mile extension. That move came after the project was iced for almost a year in 2015 when it was discovered that it was running nearly $1 billion over budget.
The federal government, which pledged $1 billion towards the original plan in 2014, still must approve the overall project.
“The administration, MassDOT and MBTA appreciate the Federal Transit Administration’s analysis and recognition of the work that was put into the GLX project's new design, timeline, cost estimates and risk review,” John Dalton, MBTA program manager for the project, said in a statement. “MassDOT and the MBTA look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners, while continuing to invest in the improvements and long-term infrastructure upgrades to the core system over one million riders depend on each day.”
The state says it will also fill a $64.3-million funding gap for the project with $32 million in “special obligation bonds” from its rail enhancement program, $28.3 million from the unallocated contingency for the Red and Orange Line infrastructure program and $4 million from two recently completed projects (the Salem Garage and Wachusett Extension) that came in under budget.
The MBTA short listed three design-build teams in February to compete for the project shortely after the Trump Administration put the Green Line Extension on a list of priority infrastructure projects in January.
The MBTA released a draft of its request for proposal to the short-listed teams last month.
Dalton, who was hired to run the project late last year, called the draft RFP "a major step in the ongoing procurement process" and added that it "reaffirms the primary objective of delivering the base scope of the program while also allowing for the inclusion of additive-scope options if the completive pricing received from the design-build teams will allow."
He said the teams gunning for the contract should focus on the "core elements-seven stations and train service before pricing out additional scope elements that would be welcome but not required to comply with the project's successful completion.”
The T has identified “six additive options” that include platform canopies, additional elevators, public art, additional community connections and extensions to the community path that will run along the extension and an enhanced vehicle maintenance facility in Somerville.
The MBTA will release the final RFP after collecting feedback from the design-build teams on the draft RFP. The teams must submit their price proposals in September before contracts are award later in the fall.