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The mayor of Somerville says new estimates that the Green Line extension could cost as much as $1 billion more than initially predicted don't necessarily mean the project will be canceled or even postponed.
“Let’s be clear: the state has a legal obligation to build the Green Line. That’s clear cut, that’s black and white,” Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in an interview, referring to a settlement that requires the state to complete the extension to mitigate the impacts of the Big Dig.
He added: “The state [also] wants to build the Green Line. We have billions of dollars in economic development in Somerville and Cambridge and the region relying on the Green Line expansion.”
Transportation officials revealed Monday that the full cost of building seven new Green Line stations in Cambridge, Somerville and Medford could cost as much as $3 billion, $1 billion more than initially estimated.
"Oh my god. That is a lot of money," said Brad Moeller, who lives in Somerville's Union Square — the site of one the first new Green Line stops scheduled to open in 2018.
Moeller says he wouldn't mind if the entire project was canceled so that his rent stays lower — a sentiment that's not shared by Anne McGuinnes.
"I think it's terrible," McGuinnes said. "They've been promising it for a long time and they've already started significant construction over there."
McGuinnes, who works in Union Square, says she thinks the higher price tag will cause the T to abandon the project. She points to statements from Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who says all options, including canceling the project, are on the table.
"The cost overruns are significant and troubling. We want to get back to a project we can afford, but we can't pursue the project at any cost to the taxpayers."Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack
"I'm surprised that they've even publicly said that if it wasn't something they weren't seriously considering," McGuinnes added.
Pollack says the increase in cost is due to several factors, including that the T made cost projections based on the cost of similar contracts during the recession, and it's using a new procurement process that's designed to speed up construction, but in this case has caused prices to soar.
"We have to at least ask ourselves whether the investment makes sense," Pollack told WBUR's Radio Boston. "What I've been saying, what the governor has been saying, is that cancelling or mothballing the project is not our first choice. The cost overruns are significant and troubling. We want to get back to a project we can afford, but we can't pursue the project at any cost to the taxpayers."
Secretary Pollack's full Radio Boston interview:
Mayor Curtatone says the state needs to look at other funding sources to bridge the gap.
And that's what Thomas Scialdone, who has lived in Somerville for almost a decade, believes will most likely happen.
Scialdone says in his experience living in the Boston area, major projects often encounter delays or cost overruns, but they still get finished.
"You know, whenever the post office is in debt or the T is in debt, they're gonna find the money somewhere along the line to bail them out. And I can see that. That's life. That's life."
This article was originally published on August 25, 2015.
This segment aired on August 25, 2015.
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