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Green Line Extension to Medford set to open after years of delays

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An MBTA Green Line train during testing on Dec. 5. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An MBTA Green Line train during testing on Dec. 5. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Two-year-old Sam McDonough sat in his stroller above Medford/Tufts station on a recent afternoon, watching Green Line train conductors run tests on the new track.

"Choo choo," the toddler declared, as the trolleys thundered back and forth below him.

His mother, Carly Nesson, said they plan to board the train at the new station the first day it's open to ride into Boston. "We're all really pumped for it," she said.

For Sam’s entire life — four of his lifetimes, really — the Green Line Extension has been delayed.

The $2.3 billion project was originally supposed to be completed in 2014. But the first branch of the project, consisting of the Green Line station in Somerville’s Union Square, didn’t open until March — eight years behind schedule. And the MBTA kept pushing the deadline for the second branch, reaching into Medford, even further.

There was a date set for May. Then end of summer. Then November. Now, the five new stations in Somerville and Medford are finally set to open Monday morning.

An MBTA Green Line train travels under the McGrath Highway Bridge in Somerville during the Green Line Extension train testing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An MBTA Green Line train travels under the McGrath Highway Bridge in Somerville during the Green Line Extension train testing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Some, like Tufts University math professor Loring Tu, still don't trust the branch will actually open next week. But Tu said he's contemplating where he'll take the train first regardless.

"I think I might even be able to go to like Chinatown for lunch and then come back [to campus]," he said.

Food was also on the minds of Tufts sophomores Charles Mitchell and Rofeeah Ayeni. They said their first trip would be to Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers, near Boston University.

Mitchell said right now, the journey is a schlep.

"Since we live all the way across campus we have to take the shuttle to Davis, to get on the Red Line, to get to Park Street," he said. "This just takes us directly there."

At Picante Taqueria, manager Maria Ramirez worked the register before the evening rush. The restaurant is steps away from the new Medford/Tufts station.

"This is good for business," she said.

Ramirez said the taqueria has already seen more foot traffic from workers constructing the new Green Line stations. Now they expect to get more commuters, too.

But the new stations have downsides.

"In anticipation of these new stops opening up, real estate prices have grown quite significantly," said Justin Hollander, a professor of urban planning at Tufts who has studied the Green Line Extension.

Hollander said some renters are already getting priced out of the area.

He said cities like Medford and Somerville should do more to develop affordable housing. Hollander pointed to an agreement Somerville signed with a Union Square developer to put money toward affordable units as a positive step.

Meanwhile, current owners are already touting the new Green Line stations in real estate ads. And the promise will soon be reality.

The first train on the new branch is scheduled to open its doors at 4:45 a.m. in Medford on Monday.

This segment aired on December 8, 2022.

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Walter Wuthmann Twitter General Assignment Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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