T hires interim Green Line ext. team

Group to scale back costs, find more revenue

THE MBTA ON MONDAY named an interim leadership team that will be charged with bringing the cost of the proposed Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford in line with available revenues.

The project was originally slated to cost $2 billion, with half coming from the federal government and half coming from the state. When cost estimates ballooned to $3 billion last year, the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board put the project on hold as it tried to figure out whether the project was still doable.

At its Monday meeting, the board didn’t give a green light to the Green Line extension, but it did give T officials the authority to pull together a team tasked with matching costs with revenues. By May, the team is expected to scale back the size and cost of the project; come up with additional revenue from Somerville, Cambridge, and businesses in those communities; and recommend a new method of hiring contractors. An untested contracting method that gave considerably more power to the previous Green Line extension contractor is blamed for some of the project’s ballooning costs.

Meet the Author

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.

Frank DePaola, the T’s general manager, said he has retained a search firm to hire a full-time manager for the project and others like it in the future. In the meantime, he received approval from the oversight board to hire an interim project team led by Jack Wright, a veteran of the MBTA and the Big Dig project who currently works as transportation leader at Weston & Sampson, an environmental/infrastructure consultant in Peabody.

Wright’s team includes John Karn of the consulting firm ARUP, who will work on stripping down and redesigning the project; Jamey Tesler, a T lawyer who is charged with coming up with a new way of hiring contractors; and David Mohler, the T’s executive director for planning, who will focus on obtaining additional revenue from Cambridge, Somerville, and other private parties, including Tufts University and US2, the master developer for Somerville’s Union Square revitalization plan.

DePaola also won approval to spend more than $4 million for change orders in connection with existing contracts on the Green Line extension, several of them with White Skanska Kiewit, the contractor whose ballooning cost estimates for the Green Line extension led state officials to put the project on hold. DePaola said $1.4 million of the change orders is to install treatment plants to address groundwater contamination associated with the project so far.