Boston and Massachusetts are facing another public transport overspending drama with revelations that the MBTA Green Line extension project is likely to come in $2.5 billion over budget. The city is still reeling from the $14 billion overspend on its previous mega-project, the Big Dig, with the State still struggling to pay for its share of the project.
The Green Line project will take the line from its current home base at Cambridge’s Lechmere, north through neighboring city Somerville and was meant to be a what transport experts had described as a “tweak” to “an excellent century-old network,” providing improved access and opportunities for other transit development.
But the original estimate of $500 million has proven to be a fantasy with the project cost now expected to hit $3 billion, with the State of Massachusetts responsible for $1 billion of the total.
The news has come as somewhat of a shock to those responsible for footing the bill, but transportation experts said that historically it is on par with other Boston transport infrastructure miscalculations.
They cite the case of the much need renovation of the 1908 built Longfellow Bridge which connects Massachusetts capital and business center Boston to cerebral Cambridge, home to Harvard and other world renowned institutes of higher learning.
On a daily basis the bridge carries carrying 90,000 Red Line passengers, 28,000 vehicles along with pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers. Original estimates for the project were in the $60 million range but the successful bid amount came in at $225 million. Along with the under budget issue, the project slated for completion in November 2018, is already two years behind schedule.
The sister project to the Longfellow Bridge is the Anderson bridge renovation currently underway and “expected” to be finished in June 2016. The experts say original estimates for updating the 1915 built bridge were a “mere $28.8 million” but they advise no-one should bet on that sum being the final cost as they believe the project was more complicated engineering wise than had been expected, and because new “finishing touches” have been suggested for the project including an underpass for those on foot or bike.