- The Federal Transit Administration has told Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials that before it can commit $1 billion to the beleaguered Boston Green Line light-rail extension project, the authority must provide "clarifying information," The Boston Globe reported.
- In a letter to the MBTA, FTA Administrator Mary Beth Mello called the authority's schedule for the extension "mechanically sound" but added that it might be overly optimistic, as any delays would "most likely result in additional costs to the project."
- Despite reservations, Mello told the MBTA that it should hire a project team and move forward with its rail plan. However, she added that the agency would have to come up with the money itself until the FTA decides whether to fund the project.
Recent changes made to "scale down" the Green Line project to $2.3 billion were approved by the FTA, but the agency said it still needed additional details in order to properly assess the risk. An MBTA spokesman told The Globe that the authority would focus on general system upgrades and repairs while the decision is being made.
The Green Line light-rail was almost scuttled after increased project costs brought it approximately $1 billion over budget with no end in sight. At one point, the extension was on track — at $642 million per mile — to be the MBTA's most expensive project ever. As the Green Line sank deeper under water, project officials began to point the finger at the construction project's procurement process, under the management team led by the joint venture of White-Skanska-Kiewit.
In December, the MBTA made the decision to fire all of its lead contractors, WSK included. The authority pared down the project scope and decided to switch to the design-build method instead. MBTA officials said that they would hire additional staff and train all project management personnel so that they would understand the new contracting method.
The authority also has its hands full with the over-budget and behind-schedule South Coast rail project. In June, the MBTA announced that the new line, which was scheduled for completion in 2022, would not open until 2030 and would come in at approximately $1.2 billion over its original cost estimate. Officials said that environmental issues could stretch out the permitting process to six years, which has prompted the agency to look at possible alternatives. The MBTA said that for every month the project was delayed, it would cost an extra $4.1 million.