GLX manager Dalton wants to stay on

John Dalton, the manager brought in from Chicago to oversee the construction of the $2.3 billion Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford, is looking to stick around after the project is done next year.

He signed a five-year contract when he was hired in 2016 that made him the MBTA’s highest-paid employee. At the time, the future of the Green Line extension was very much up in the air. The price tag of the project under the previous oversight team had ballooned to more than $3 billion. While T officials succeeded in paring back the cost by roughly $1 billion and convinced Somerville and Cambridge to kick in $75 million, it was very unclear whether the agency had the management skills to get such a complex project up and operating.

Dalton came in and steadied the ship. He also built a template for future mega-projects. The previous oversight group for the Green Line extension consisted of just four MBTA employees. Dalton assembled a team of 43 focused solely on the Green Line extension. The goal was to get the project built and also establish a farm team from which managers of future MBTA projects could be drawn.

The completion date for the Green Line extension has slipped a bit amid COVID supply chain challenges and a recent loss of productivity. The original schedule called for service to begin at the end of this year. In June, however, the T said the Union Square branch of the line wouldn’t be finished until October and the Medford branch would take until May 2022. In October, the Union Square branch was pushed back to December; the Medford branch is still targeted for May but that deadline could also be delayed.

On the positive side, the project appears to be coming in under budget with enough money to spare that Somerville and Cambridge will get all their money back. On The Codcast, Dalton was asked whether he thinks riders will like what he and his team have built.

“It probably depends on who you ask,” he said. “If what’s important to someone is that they have a safe and reliable public transit system to get from Medford, Massachusetts, into Boston, a one-seat ride, I think they’ll be very satisfied. That’s what they’ll have. But if people fell in love with the designs that were part of what I call episode 1 – that were more than what was required, more than what was necessary, certainly in terms of what was committed to by the MBTA to our funding agencies – they may feel like, hey, this isn’t quite what we wanted. I can appreciate that. I look at those designs and they were great. They were amazing facilities. But the objective of this project always was, and certainly became when I was asked to join GLX, focus on what the requirement is and anything beyond that is not what we’re delivering. Because of that we’re in the healthy financial position we’re in and we can absorb things like COVID without blowing the budget.” 

 

He said the multi-use community path that runs alongside the project and connects bicycle networks north and west of Boston to the city is about 90 percent complete. But he cautioned that the path won’t open until after full Green Line service begins because a major chunk of the path serves as a supply chain corridor for the Medford branch of the line. 

Dalton said he’s enjoyed working on such a high-profile, highly scrutinized project. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I have not been disappointed,” he said. “It was kind of an easy decision for me and my family to move here when we did, and we haven’t regretted it.”

With the completion time for the Green Line extension pushed back until next year, Dalton said he will need an extension on his five-year contract to see the Green Line extension through to the end. But he suggested it may make sense to sign a new deal with the T that would keep him on board for future projects. He said he and his family like it here and the T appears to have plenty of big projects on the near-term horizon. (He didn’t mention any specific projects, but two big ones being talked about are the Red-Blue subway connector and the I-90 Allston project.)

“Option A, or desire No. 1, is to stay here,” Dalton said.

 BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

House passes spending plan: After approving four mega-amendments with a combined price tag of $174 million, the House passed a $3.82 billion spending bill drawing on money from the America Rescue Plan Act and surplus state funds. The mega-amendments were compiled outside of public view, drawn from some 1,126 individual amendments filed earlier by lawmakers. Read more.

OPINION

Big vote Tuesday: With Tuesday’s mayoral election, Jim Aloisi says Boston faces another defining moment, just as it did in 1949 when John Hynes faced James Michael Curley and in 1967 when Kevin White squared off against Louise Day Hicks. Read more.

Appeal to Boston Globe: Dennis Dimitri and Ellane Stinson, physicians with Tobacco Free Mass, say the Boston Globe should honor its 1999 policy on tobacco ads and stop running Philip Morris sponsored content. Read more.

Whale day: Rob Moir of the Ocean River Institute calls on the Legislature to designate a special day for right whales. Read more.

No happy hours: Patricia McTiernan says Massachusetts doesn’t need and would be better off sticking with its ban on happy hours. Read more.

Labor appeal: Bob Butler, the president of the Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation Northeast Regional Council, urges the state to crack down on labor brokers. Read more.

Gig economy concerns: Frank Conte of the Beacon Hill Institute says trying to make the gig economy look like the mainstream economy would be a big mistake. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

According to the latest state data, 11 state employees were fired, 130 quit, and 362 have been suspended for not getting a COVID vaccine. Another 2,138 are waiting to see if they are in compliance – for example, they may be waiting for a response to an exemption request. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

A homeless encampment near a Worcester Walmart was cleared in late October, amid debate over how the city should handle its homeless population. (Telegram & Gazette)

Judi St. Hilaire, the wife of Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan, is in the intensive care unit at a New Bedford Hospital after being hit by a car in Mattapoisett while taking part in a 60-miles group bicycle ride. (Herald News

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A new study estimates that 89 percent of Americans qualify for a COVID booster shot, largely because almost 75 percent of Americans are overweight under CDC standards. (MassLive)

The two US Senators from Massachusetts decline to sign a letter praising the FDA for banning the use of an electric shock device that has been used at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Drivers have rammed cars into protesters at least 139 times since the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and September 30 of this year, a Globe analysis found

ELECTION

Despite a number of contested municipal races in Western Massachusetts, clerks expect turnout to be low on Tuesday. (MassLive)

Will the winner of tomorrow’s Boston mayoral election push local nonprofits to increase their payment-in-lieu-of-taxes contributions to the city’s coffers? (Boston Globe

For some, the non-binding ballot question on restoring an elected school committee in Boston is about empowering minority residents. (Boston Globe

The national housing crunch has ballot questions popping in municipal elections to tax hotel visitors to support affordable housing and curb Airbnb rentals that constrict the local supply of rental housing. (New York Times

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

With the end of eviction moratoriums, tenants and landlords struggle with evictions. (Boston University Statehouse Program) 

Marijuana delivery companies say there is demand for their service, but it is hard to make a profit. One company blames a regulation requiring every car to have two drivers. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

College degrees in a number of majors don’t pay off in later earnings prospects. (Washington Post)

ARTS/CULTURE

A new Boston-based theatre collaborative is planning an opera based on the life of Malcolm X. It will be the first in a five-year-long series planned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera. (Dorchester Reporter)

The Florence Congregation Church is being turned into a community arts center. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION

The US Coast Guard and first responders are looking for a downed small plane off of Cape Cod. (Cape Cod Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

World leaders are gathering in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference amid urgent warnings of the need for action to stave off the worst effects of carbon emissions. (New York Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Three years after Whitey Bulger was killed in prison, there have still been no charges filed related to his death. (Associated Press)

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy reports that the three-year impasse over a new contract with the Boston Newspaper Guild at the Boston Globe may be coming to an end. (Media Nation)

PASSINGS

Longtime Red Sox broadcaster and former player Jerry Remy dies of cancer at 68. (WCVB)

Israel Arbeiter, who survived the Treblinka and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps and spent the rest of his life urging that the Nazi atrociities not be forgotten, including serving as a founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, died at age 96. (Boston Globe