The comments about the Green Line extensions to Somerville and Medford reveal that people do not fully understand why it is critical for Somerville.
If you agree that transportation improvements in densely populated urban areas are the best transit investments then that makes the case for Somerville because it is the most densely populated city in New England, with nearly 19,000 residents per square mile. 27% of households do not own a car and 29% of residents use public transportation daily to commute to work relying on unreliable buses to transfer to rapid transit.
Density isn?t the whole story. Every day 200 diesel commuter and freight trains pass through Somerville but do not stop. The city has one heavily used subway station at Davis Square. The city is home to the huge Boston Engine terminal where the T fixes all of its polluting diesel trains. We breathe polluted air from 250,000 vehicles that pass through Somerville daily on Route 93, Route 28 and Route 38. Somerville is an environmental justice community and is the only community in the state with over 200,000 vehicle miles traveled per square mile per day. Many people hate the bumper-to bumper traffic on I 93. Think about living near it and breathing the polluted air everyday.
Sine 1990 the state committed to extend the Green Line through Somerville (Artery Consent Order –ACO) as Big Dig mitigation for environmental impacts to the community. This commitment was incorporated in the State Implementation Plan (SIP) ? the state?s legal agreement with federal EPA that details how the state will address its violations of the Clean Air Act. Nothing happened ? while the state met other ACO-SIP commitments. In 2000, a second Conservation Law Foundation lawsuit was filed and the state re-committed to the ACO and SIP. Again, nothing happened. In 2005 the administration agreed to build the Green Line following a feasibility study revealing the needs for and benefits of extending the Green Line. In 2006, the state re-committed to the SIP & authorized two Green Line extensions, one to Union Square and one to Medford, delaying completion from 2011 to 2014. Now the state wants to delay completion to 2016. 26 years is a long time to wait for such needed transit. Is it any wonder that people in Somerville have expressed anger and cynicism about the state?s commitment to the Green Line?