MBTA Celebrates Opening of Green Line’s $2.3B Medford Branch Extension

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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MBTA General Manager Poftak offered remarks at the Dec. 12 GLX Medford Branch opening celebration.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) celebrated the opening of the agency’s $2.3 billion Medford Branch of the Green Line Extension on Dec. 12.

In a ceremony, state and transportation officials dedicated the new Green Line Vehicle Maintenance Facility to former Congressman Mike Capuano and a ribbon cutting took place at the new Tufts/Medford Station. 

Balfour Beatty, part of the Green Line Extension Constructors joint-venture team, also celebrated the grand opening of the new branch, noting in a release it is the last line completed during the construction of MBTA’s GLX project.

The project extends the Green Line approximately 4.7 miles along two branches—the Union Square Branch, which opened in March, and the new Medford Branch—from the reconstructed Lechmere Station in East Cambridge. 

Seven new stations have been constructed, in addition to a new vehicle storage and maintenance facility in Somerville. The agency also purchased 24 new trolleys to add to the existing fleet.

“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,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “We are pleased today to bring the Medford Branch into service after years of planning and coordination.”

To successfully open the Medford Branch, the joint venture team built five stations on the existing Lowell Commuter Rail corridor, extending from Lechmere Station in Cambridge to College Avenue at Tuft University. 

Project teammates also performed work on the following final-phase construction activities:

  • Adjustments to the overhead wire on the East Cambridge Viaduct to eliminate a temporary 10 mph speed restriction, allowing trolleys to permanently operate at the system’s designated speed of 25 mph.   
  • The final testing and integration of track switches, power lines, signal equipment, and digital communications between the Green Line’s currently operating Union Branch, the Medford Branch, and the MBTA’s Operations Control Center.
  • Completion of a nearly two-mile extension of the Community Path, providing access to other pathways leading into Boston.
  • The installation of the final remaining sound wall panels along the Union Branch.
  • Various outstanding construction items along the Union and Medford Branches’ tracks, stations, and rights of way.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Balfour Beatty team and partners for officially completing the final line of MBTA’s Green Line Extension project,” said Mark Konchar, Balfour Beatty senior vice president and managing director of U.S. rail operations. “Opening the Medford Branch is a monumental milestone in the project’s delivery. Balfour Beatty looks forward to finishing final stages to prepare for project closeout in 2023.”

With Green Line Medford Branch service, passengers will now have a streamlined commute from Medford and Somerville to downtown Boston, as well as the Longwood Medical Area.

“The Green Line Extension Project will go down in the [annals] of local history as a project with a huge economic impact and impact on our MBTA customers,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler.  

The Medford Branch runs approximately 3.7 miles to College Avenue in Medford and includes five stations located at East Somerville, Gilman Square, Magoun Square, Ball Square, and Medford/Tufts stations.  

“The opening of the Medford Branch of the Green Line today marks another remarkable accomplishment for the MBTA after many years of hard work and billions of dollars in investments in the system, culminating in improved transit options for current and new riders to come,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We’re excited to become an integral part of the landscape of these new neighborhoods that we now serve, and the MBTA looks forward to offering expanded Green Line service for many years to come.”

MBTA said the agency expects Green Line trains to operate every five to six minutes during peak hours, bringing reliable service to areas that did not previously have such transit access.

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

Additional recent coverage of the MBTA by RT&S can be viewed here.

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