Green Line extension could take a lot more green

Nearly 11 months ago, the federal government promised Massachusetts almost $1 billion to help the state extend the MBTA’s Green Line into Somerville and Medford. At the time, nearly everyone thought the long-delayed project was finally back on track.

“The state is positioned to do its part, the federal government is positioned to do its part, and there ought to be no obstacle to getting this done,” former governor Deval Patrick said at the time.

But on Monday T officials told the agency’s fiscal and management control board that they now believe the project will cost $700 million to $1 billion more than the original $1.99 billion price tag. The T’s general manager, Frank DePaolasaid he has known about the higher cost estimate since May, which means the price tag ballooned 50 percent in just six months.

Explanations for the sharp increase were in short supply, and not very satisfying. State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said engineers hired by the T made some of their cost estimates using as a guide MBTA projects completed during the Great Recession, when prices for most materials and labor were lower.

The T’s contracting process was also blamed. According to the Globe, the T’s engineers estimated the cost of completing one section of the Green Line extension at $487 million, but the main contractor, White-Skanska-Kiewit, projected a price of $889 million. State House News reported the original cost estimate for the section of the line was $387 million.

Where the project goes from here is anybody’s guess. Pollack said officials can look to scale back the cost of the project, find a new contractor, come up with more money, or scrap the project entirely. “Everything is on the table, and everything includes canceling the project,” said Pollack. “But that’s not where we want to go.”

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Steven Baddour, a former state senator who has been working as a lobbyist since 2012, jumps ship along with his clients from McDermott Will & Emory to ML Strategies. (CommonWealth)

Department of Children and Families caseloads are still over the national recommended maximum of 15 cases per social worker. (MassLive)

Greater Boston looks at the effort to place a referendum on the 2016 ballot that would restrict the practice of “extreme confinement” for farm animals.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton’s chief financial officer certified the budget proposed by Mayor Bill Carpenter but says it will require a water rate hike and an increase in taxes. (The Enterprise)

The late owner of the Manchester Athletic Club bequeaths 30 acres of land to the Trustees of Reservations’ Agassiz Rock Reservation. (Gloucester Times)

A steering committee is seeking to develop a master plan for the New Bedford waterfront after the collapse of the proposed casino bid last month. One proposal includes constructing a courthouse to spur development similar to the federal courthouse in South Boston. (Standard-Times)

Winchester parents are trying to get the town’s high school principal reinstated by attempting to recall two school committee members. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Globe argues that the Boston City Council’s pursuit of higher salaries is a “cringeworthy crusade.” The editorial follows close on the heels of Monday’s Download, which had a similar theme.

Holyoke revives an event that hasn’t been held in nearly a decade and has a successful, problem-free, three-day celebration. (MassLive)

CASINOS

Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack gives Wynn Resorts a green light on traffic issues related to its proposed Everett casino. Pollack’s decision places her at odds with Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and officials from surrounding areas. (CommonWealth)

The Boston Globe profiles hard-charging attorney Thomas Frongillo, who is representing the city of Boston in its nasty legal fight with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Frongillo is being paid $490 an hour, half his regular rate, and the city’s legal tab is currently at $1.3 million.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

With President Obama citing US Rep. Seth Moulton’s support for the Iran nuclear deal to build support among other lawmakers, the first-term rep is coming into his own, an Item editorial says.

In Ferguson, Missouri, municipal court officials have withdrawn thousands of outstanding warrants and will move to ensure no one is incarcerated who cannot afford to pay fines and fees, a response to the continuing racial turmoil set off by last year’s shooting of Michael Brown. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

The National Review says the Democratic presidential field is like the 2008 and 2012 GOP primaries —  “too old and too white.”

A new book claims the Clintons paved the way for Joe Biden‘s resurrection as a presidential candidate when they enthusiastically supported his selection as vice president in 2008, believing that would reduce him as a threat to run. (U.S. News & World Report)

Republican Chris Christie blames President Obama for the current fiscal crisis. (Eagle-Tribune)

Jeb Bush has decided to fight back against GOP poll leader Donald Trump‘s campaign trail taunts in an effort to diminish the bombastic businessman’s standing and prove Bush can be a streetfighter. (New York Times) Bush bungles his “anchor baby” explanation. (Time)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Prepare for another wild ride in the stock market as China‘s economy continues to roil. (New York Times) The Times spotlights a Harvard economist who has been predicting the market upheaval triggered by China’s overwhelming debt. But some don’t think there is any cause for panic. (TheStreet) Others think that the stock market dive is God’s punishment. (TalkingPoints Memo)

The hacking of the adultery-enabling site Ashley Madison is the latest incident to show the illusion of online privacy; this year alone there have been 505 documented security breaches of business, government, and other institutional websites. (U.S. News & World Report)

HEALTH CARE

Eleven Massachusetts colleges and universities form their own insurance company in a bid to cut their health care costs. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Former governors Michael Dukakis and Bill Weld plan to sit down with current Gov. Charlie Baker on Sept. 9 to make their case for a north-south rail link between South and North Stations. (Boston Globe)

MBTA officials laid out the steps they are taking to ensure the system won’t have another meltdown this winter like the epic collapse earlier this year. (Boston Herald)

Uber has spent more than $1 million on lobbying in California since 2013 to thwart threats to its business model. (Governing)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth shut down Saturday for the third time this year after a regulator valve to the reactor failed to open. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A 31-year-old Methuen man is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Lowell. (The Sun)

A former Danvers resident faces 15 years in prison for shaking his son and causing life-altering injuries. (Salem News)

Classmates of a former St. Paul’s student accused of raping a freshman testify he admitted having sex with the girl. (Boston Globe)

The anti-obesity foundation started by former Subway pitchman and convicted pedophile Jared Fogle doled out a fraction of the annual amount he had pledged with the bulk of the funds going to his director’s salary and about a quarter of it unaccounted for. (USA Today)

The State Police will investigate a Worcester SWAT raid that targeted the wrong people. (Telegram & Gazette)

A video shows a Boston police officer with his hands around a suspect’s neck. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

New York examines the three-way fight to become the next publisher of the New York Times.