Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
Next Stops: Medford and Somerville
After years of wrangling and budget-cutting, the MBTA Green Line Extension in Boston is finally on its way to becoming reality.
Railway Track & Structures reports that Federal, state and MBTA officials, including federal Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, formally broke ground on the extension June 25 at the site of the future Union Square station in Somerville.
The extension consists of two branches: a 4.7-mile branch that will parallel the MBTA’s Fitchburg commuter rail line to Union Square and a 3.7-mile one paralleling the Lowell commuter rail line to College Avenue in Medford, Mass. Lechmere station, the current northern terminus of the Green Line, will also be relocated as part of the extension project. A new Green Line vehicle storage facility will also be built in Somerville.
“The Green Line Extension will improve access to education, housing and job opportunities across the entire MTBA system,” said Baker. “Our administration is grateful for the collaboration and support we have received from Secretary Chao and all partners at the federal, state and local level to reach this milestone and begin a project that will have a transformational impact on this region of the commonwealth by accommodating riders and spurring economic growth.”
The project is proceeding under a budget agreement that sets a cap of $2.3 billion on its total cost. The Federal government will pick up $996 million of that tab via a Full Funding Grant Agreement hammered out in 2015; the first $225-million installment of that grant was paid at the end of 2017 and the second last month. The cities of Cambridge and Somerville are also chipping in to the tune of $25 million from Cambridge and $50 million from Somerville. Heavy construction work is set to begin this fall, with test runs beginning in late 2020 and revenue service one year after that.
Wireless Designer Trams Enter Service in Nice
The International Railway Journal reports that those capacitor-powered, fast-charging, Ora Ïto-designed Alstom Citadis X05 next-generation trams have officially gone into service on Nice’s T2 tram line. The new 7-km (4.3-mile) line, which opened for business July 2, connects the Cadam and Magnan districts of the resort city on the Côte d’Azur.
In addition to looking sharp, the new tramcars feature a host of improvements over the previous Citadis design. The Ecopack energy storage devices (capacitors) can be charged in 20 seconds by a static charger embedded between the rails at stations, building on the existing APS fast-charge storage technology Alstom developed. The trams also have larger windows, LED lighting, large seats, travel information screens and wider double doors for easier accessibility. The 44-meter (144.4-foot) tramcars also hold 10 percent more passengers, board and alight 20 percent faster and cut preventive maintenance costs by 20 percent or more.
And next year, they will also be connected to the Internet via vehicle-to-ground Wi-Fi.
Melbourne Recycling Its Iconic W-Class Trams By Giving Them Away
Have you dreamt of entertaining your friends, opening an ice cream shop, or opening a community hangout in a vintage W-class Melbourne tram? Better hurry, because you have until Friday, July 6, to apply for a free one.
Time Out Melbourne reports that VicTrack, the owner of Melbourne’s rail transit infrastructure, is accepting applications from those who would like to receive one of 134 surplus W-class trams for free until 4 p.m. local time on Friday. Community and educational institutions are strongly encouraged to apply, and applicants need not be Victoria residents - VicTrack is accepting proposals from anyone anywhere in the world. Recipients need to explain how they intend to restore or repurpose the tram for use by the public. (Those wishing to repurpose one for private or commercial use will have to pay for the tram if their proposal is accepted.)
Surplus trams that have not become part of heritage tram fleets have been converted into everything from shelters for the homeless to cafes to Airbnb lodgings. Recipients must pay for their own restoration and repurposing work if they receive one.
Full details about the process and the online application form can be found on the VicTrack website. Only online applications will be considered.
Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.
Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.