The MBTA will delay the targeted start date for passenger service on one portion of the under-construction Green Line Extension by five months, pushing the expected opening of the Medford branch back until May 2022 amid "schedule pressure" inflicted by the pandemic.
Officials remain hopeful that service can begin on the other branch running to Union Square in Somerville by the current December 2021 goal, though that, too, already reflects a delay of about three months from a target date the MBTA quietly set earlier this year for the project's completion.
MBTA board members approved a settlement agreement on Monday including the new dates for service on the $2.3 billion megaproject that has been in the works for years. Project manager John Dalton said the agreement would max out at $80 million more paid to contractors and address any liabilities the T faces from COVID-19.
While the project is in "a very solid financial position," Dalton said construction has been impacted in part by supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.
"There is schedule pressure, and there always has been schedule pressure, and that was only exacerbated from COVID-19," Dalton told the board. "We're still working through that."
The announcement came at the Fiscal and Management Control Board's final scheduled meeting before it expires at the end of the month and two weeks after officials hinted that they may need to push back the project timeline.
MBTA officials also announced as part of Monday's vote that the effort to expand the Green Line westward beyond its previous terminus at Lechmere Station will no longer require municipal dollars paid by Cambridge and Somerville, who committed tens of millions of dollars in the early days of the project to support it.