The recently passed state budget requires that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation study the feasibility by April 2020 of extending the Blue Line past its northern Wonderland terminus in Revere to Lynn’s existing commuter-rail station.
It’s not a new idea, and it’s not clear if this go-round is the charm. The mandate in the state budget, which Governor Charlie Baker still has to sign, spells out the hurdles. For one, MassDOT is supposed to evaluate the capital costs, the operating costs, and the availability of funding for both at the local, state, and federal level.
The mandate also calls for MassDOT to look at “the potential economic, social and cultural benefits to the greater North Shore region and the commonwealth as a whole.” What’s more, while an extension of the Blue Line is mentioned specifically, the feasibility study is also supposed to examine “otherwise expanding rapid transit service” beyond that line.
In other words, there are a lot of moving parts. And a lot of history to overcome. Plans to run the Blue Line 4.3 more miles from Wonderland to Lynn go back to at least the 1970s, when, it turns out, there was enough state and federal money to do so. Local opposition tanked that opportunity, though. It’s been a political and fiscal dead letter since.
Might the Boston region’s ballooning population growth and housing prices—and its notoriously awful vehicular traffic—spur the extension this time? Stay tuned.