The recent federal funding received for the long-delayed Green Line expansion—exciting many in Somerville and Medford—is only a small success story for a city still trying to balance a variety of other ventures.
Federal officials revealed that the government would be pledging close to $1 billion to finance seven new aboveground stops on the Green Line—a remodeled station in Lechmere, brand-new stops at Ball Square, Lowell Street and Union Square, among others. This extension would spur economic growth, create close to 1000 jobs, and provide rail-service to communities that have none, according to The Boston Globe.
The origins of the project date back over twenty years to when the Conservation Law Foundation threatened to have the Big Dig shut down because of its monumental environmental impact. Boston reacted—the Green Line would become longer, increasing the use of public transportation and decreasing the reliance on cars. This change will improve the air quality of the region, thus offsetting the massive highway project.
Legal trouble forced the expansion project back almost a decade. Now, the completion date of 2020 appears to be final—signifying the financial agreement that the federal government agreed to cover close to half the cost.
Outside of the remodeled Lechmere stop, the focus on this project continues to neglect Cambridge. A district that has five Red Line stops, two Green Line stops, and several bus routes hardly seems neglected. Officials prioritize an individual’s ability to access these stations, however, and that number is surprisingly low—only one location near Harvard Square seems to be well-served by public transportation with a 24.3 percent accessibility rate, according to Boston.com.
This number comes from the “You Are Here” project developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is open to the public online as a variety of interactive and regularly updated maps, very attune to someone’s location within Cambridge. A 24.3 percent accessibility rate to public transportation is a highlight for this district—running the mouse anywhere else across the map, the number drops alarmingly low.
With almost none of the districts being able to easily access the T stops within it, it is expected that many will start purchasing and relying on cars. According to the Brooking Institution, many cannot afford the financial burden of a car, but will cave out of necessity. “You Are Here” suggests that in order to fix transportation shortcomings, there needs to be more of a focus on access rather than mobility.
“This will be a great service to the City of Boston and all surrounding areas,” Gabrielle Farrell, spokesperson for the City of Boston, said about the Green Line expansion. “Nearby cities play a major role in the economic vitality of our region and services that connect our cities and neighborhoods help us to share cutting-edge talents, foster growth, and strengthen collaborative efforts.”
The green line expansion will go as far as Tufts East Medical Campus, opening up a variety of new locations for a student to visit on the weekend. Along with an extension added to the Green Line, reports linger of a casino to be built in East Boston, a possible Revolution soccer stadium in South Boston, as well as serious restorations to Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace, redevelopment of the entrance to Boston’s Back Bay area, and an Olympic stadium that could threaten Boston’s food complex site.
It has also been over two months since the loss of the Long Island homeless shelter, which accommodated nearly 500 guests. Those that were displaced are still overloading many shelters, such as Pine Street, and officials are scrambling for a long-term solution.
So much development is not surprising for an urban metropolis—it is very much to be expected. But, with every passing day, it seems that more and more needs to be built, and the deadlines extend and extend. Standing around different spots on Boston College’s campus, you can spot the Prudential sticking up high in the sky—constant, never changing. It’s hard to imagine the simultaneous rapidity and hindrance of the puzzle pieces below it.
Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Editor