The federal government last week made its first payment towards the Green Line Extension project, a transportation initiative that over the years has been the source of headaches associated with delays and cost overruns.
The wire transfer of $1.7 million from the Federal Transit Administration came through Friday morning and marks the first installment of federal money towards a project the state has already spent $536 million on, project manager John Dalton said.
Like many of the state's biggest transportation projects — South Coast Rail and South Station expansion, for instance — the rail line extension has been in the discussion phase for years but has yet to truly launch.
"They've communicated their support for the project verbally, they have concurred with our cost estimate and schedule estimate," Dalton told the Department of Transportation board Monday. "But this is their first financial contribution on the project, so it's a big day and a further demonstration that we are definitely moving forward with a full head of steam."
The FTA last month approved the Green Line Extension's grant application request for $34.5 million in certain federal funds, and similar grant requests are expected as the extension of trolley service through Somerville and into Medford advances.
Dalton also told the board Monday that the project schedule is going to be moved up slightly to maximize the work that can be done during the 2018 construction season, though the completion date will not change.
Dalton said he expects to give the design-build team the go-ahead, or notice to proceed, 61 days earlier than anticipated, on Dec. 11, 2017. The project completion date is still pegged at Dec. 10, 2021, Dalton said.
Transportation officials put the brakes on the expansion of trolley service into Somerville and Medford after cost estimates ballooned 50 percent in 2015 to as much as $3 billion. Last year, MassDOT okayed a $2.289 billion version of the project. Somerville and Cambridge agreed to pitch in a combined $75 million.