Dalton to bike proposed Green Line ext. path

But warns advocates little chance of design changes

John Dalton, recently hired to manage the Green Line extension project for the MBTA, is an avid biker, someone who in his previous job in Chicago biked or took public transit everywhere and didn’t even own a car for five years.

But at a community meeting Wednesday night at Somerville High School Dalton told fellow cycling enthusiasts that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to restore a proposed bicycle and pedestrian path to its original length. He said the so-called community path, like most other elements of the Green Line extension from Lechmere Station into Medford and Somerville, had to be pared back to lower the total cost of the project from $3 billion to just over $2 billion.

Dalton said he would like to extend the community path to Lechmere, expand the proposed maintenance facility near Lechmere, and provide greater access to the new T stations, but he said the price tag of the project cannot go up. “We’re going to be very diligent not to increase the budget number,” he said, noting the current number for the community path is $20 million.

Still, advocates for the community path are holding out hope. At a meeting this week with Dalton, they came away with a pledge from him to join them in riding the route of the proposed path sometime in January. They said Dalton will learn first-hand how penny-wise and pound-foolish it would be to leave the path unfinished, a message dozens of them delivered at the Thursday meeting.

Steven Bercu, president of the Boston Cyclists Union, said leaving the path as it is currently designed would force cyclists to complete their commute into Boston over very dangerous and congested streets. “These are some of the least friendly streets around,” he said.

Ken Carlson, chair of the Somerville Bicycle Advisory Committee, offered an even more dire warning if cyclists empty on to dangerous Somerville streets. “I will tell you it’s going to cost lives,” he said. “We’re talking money versus lives.”

Lynn Weissman, co-president of the Friends of the Community Path, which has proposed alternative designs, told Dalton to find a way to complete the entire community path. Great leaders, she said, “don’t just do things right. They do the right thing.”

Three other developments:

–Dalton said a final request for proposals from contractors will be issued on May 23, 2017, and construction iof the Green Line extension will start in February 2018. He said construction should be completed in 2021.

–MBTA officials said they have changed the name of two stations on the Green Line extension. The Lowell Street station is being renamed Magoun Square and the Washington Street station is being renamed East Somerville.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

–Andrew Brennan, the T’s director of energy and environment, said the transit authority was not worried that the incoming Trump administration would renege on the Federal Transit Authority’s pledge of $996 million for the project. “We feel very strongly that that’s not the case,” he said of a possible Trump intervention.