MBTA opens Medford Branch of Green Line Extension

Dec. 13, 2022
The branch includes five new stations and extends the northern end of the Green Line through Somerville and Medford, Mass.

Local and regional dignitaries joined Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials on Dec. 12 to mark the opening of the 3.7-mile Medford Branch of the Green Line Extension that brings five additional stations to the network and connects Medford/Tufts with a single seat ride to downtown Boston.

The Medford Branch is the second branch of the Green Line Extension to open following the Union Square Branch’s opening on March 21, 2022. The extension is expected to serve an additional 50,000 riders by 2030 and will support a reduction in regional daily vehicles miles traveled by nearly 26,000 miles. With the opening of both branches, nearly 80 percent of the population of Somerville, Mass., is now within walking distance to a station.

“The Green Line Extension will have a transformational impact on the cities of Somerville, Medford and Cambridge by providing the region with access to important public transit, and we are pleased today to bring the Medford Branch into service after years of planning and coordination,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “This project is the product of the collaboration of federal, state, local and community partners and will bring economic growth and improve opportunities to education and jobs for many years to come.”

The project took decades to move from idea to delivery and faced more than a few crossroads where a decision could have been made to scrap the project. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described the road to the project’s opening as full “of fits and starts and near-death experiences.”

One of the main themes touched on repeatedly in speeches celebrating the Medford Branch’s opening was collaboration.

“Today’s celebration is the result of decades of work by local officials, community members and members of the university,” said Tufts University President Anthony Monaco. “We thank everyone who played a role in making public transit a viable, sustainable and affordable option for the Tufts community and neighbors in our host communities. It’s wonderful to now have the Green Line connect our Boston campuses with the Medford/Somerville campus, and we encourage everyone to take the T to Tufts.”

Federal investment

“You can’t build a project like this with good intentions and words; you need dollars,” explained Gov. Baker before noting the strong advocacy of former Massachusetts Congressman Mike Capuano, who helped secure a $996-million Full Funding Grant Agreement from the Federal Transit Administration through its Capital Investment Grant Program.

The full 4.7-mile Green Line extension cost $2.3 billion to construct.

Green Line Extension (GLX) Constructors was awarded a design-build contract for both branches of the Green Line Extension in 2017. The joint venture team is comprised of Fluor, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc., Herzog Contracting Group and The Middlesex Corp.

The five fully accessible stations included in the Medford Branch are the East Somerville, Gilman Square, Magoun Square, Ball Square and Medford/Tufts stations. GLX Constructors built the stations on the existing Lowell Commuter Rail corridor and worked to advance final-phase construction elements, which included the overhead wire system, the East Cambridge Viaduct, completion of a nearly two-mile extension of the Community Path and installation of the final sound wall panels, among other final work efforts.

“Opening the Medford Branch is a monumental milestone in the project’s delivery, along with many others that our teams worked hard to accomplish to enhance the traveling experience for thousands of passengers. In partnership with the MBTA, our industry partners and community stakeholders, Balfour Beatty looks forward to finishing final stages to prepare for project closeout in 2023,” said Mark Konchar, Balfour Beatty senior vice president and managing director of U.S. rail operations.

“Boston is one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, and the opening of the Green Line Extension immediately improves transportation access for the greater Boston area,” said Thomas Nilsson, president of Fluor’s Infrastructure business.

With the new Medford branch open, Green Line E Branch trains will terminate at the Medford/Tufts station, and D Branch trains will terminate at the Union Square station. B and C Branch trains will continue to terminate at the Government Center station.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.