GLX to come in under budget, opening slightly delayed
T reaches $80m settlement with contractor; Somerville and Cambridge to get money back
MBTA OFFICIALS say the $2.3 billion project extending the Green Line into Somerville and Medford will come in under budget and be finished slightly later than expected, with the Union Square branch opening in December instead of October and the opening of the Medford branch pushed back from December to May 2022.
John Dalton, the manager of the project, said it is 80 percent complete. While some construction risks remain, the ever-cautious Dalton indicated they are manageable, particularly in the wake of the Fiscal and Management Control Board’s approval on Monday of an $80 million settlement with the construction team to cover COVID-19 delays and supply chain hiccups.
MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak had good news for Somerville and Cambridge, telling the two communities that they won’t have to put any more money into the project and will likely get back all the money they have contributed so far. Somerville offered to provide $50 million and Cambridge $25 million when the project was in danger of collapsing.
“GLX is in a very solid financial position,” said Dalton, using the T’s abbreviation for the project.
Joe Aiello, the chair of the control board, said the success in bringing the Green Line extension in under budget and nearly on time amidst the COVID-19 pandemic shows federal regulators and the public that the agency is capable of handling such big projects.
“Thank you,” Aiello said to Dalton. “Metro Boston owes you a big thanks.”
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone joined the control board’s virtual meeting to praise Dalton, the T, the control board, and Gov. Charlie Baker for making the project happen. Curtatone said the incredibly complicated project, which makes its way through some of the most densely populated areas in the country and navigates challenging transportation terrain, is already delivering the housing and jobs that were promised.
“It’s not only happening, it’s exceeding expectations,” Curtatone said.
Neither Dalton nor T officials provided an estimate of how much money will be left over after the project is completed. According to a report on the project released this spring, the T had set aside more than $200 million for unexpected cost increases. Subsequent to that report, the T received another $103 million for the project from the American Rescue Plan as part of an initiative to help projects previously funded with federal money cope with delays and setbacks caused by COVID-19.Assuming the $80 million for the settlement with the project contractor and the $75 million for Somerville and Medford come out of the roughly $300 million in contingencies, that would leave about $145 million left over assuming no other major expenses turn up.
Lisa Battiston, a spokeswoman for the T, said in an email that “the project is still on track to come-in under budget accounting for both the funding identified in the settlement agreement and the return of municipal contributions to Somerville and Cambridge. There are sufficient contingency funds remaining (including the payouts referenced above) to address any additional issues the project may encounter between now and project close-out.”