Extending the Green Line into Somerville and Medford didn't get derailed this week, but it was a close call. On Monday, MBTA officials agreed to a leaner project, shaving hundreds of millions of dollars off the cost, now estimated at 2.3 billion dollars. The new line would extend about five miles from Lechmere in Cambridge to Tufts University in Medford. There would be a total of seven new stops through one of the densest and most congested areas of the state. But there are still serious questions about if, and how, this project will ever get done. Among them, can the state fill a budget gap of 73 million dollars and will the federal government still be willing to chip in a billion dollars for this scaled back design? 

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack (@Steph_Pollack) joined Jim on Wednesday night to discuss lingering questions about the Green Line extension, the possibility of a North South Rail connecter and whether busses may be a way to provide late night, maybe all night, service.

Pollack discussed the current status of the Green Line extension. "We are now moving ahead," she said. But the federal government needs to accept their redesign and the cost estimate. Pollack said they need to keep to their cost estimate.  "If you look at how the private sector builds things, they actually deliver projects at the cost they estimate," she said.

Years ago, at Conservation Law Foundation, Pollack fought for this extension, saying they had to do it. Now, she responds to herself, "I wish she knew then what I knew now." She hoped that the Commonwealth would deliver the project, rather than the T. 

On the Somerville and Cambridge contributing to the extension, she said "I don't think this is going to be the last time we ask cities and towns to chip in for infrastructure. It's a practice that's widespread all over the country." This way, everyone who benefits from the projects has skin in the game. 

They also discussed the North South Rail. Pollack said that "it's an appropriate time to take another look at it." She said they are continuing their work on the South Station expansion, and they will also address the North South Rail.

On late night T service, Pollack said they haven't ruled out trying new service pilots and ideas. "If we want to try new things, we just need to try them in a responsible way."