Union Square station (Somerville)

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Union Square
Union Square station site, July 2019.JPG
Construction materials at the Union Square station site in 2019
LocationUnion Square
Somerville, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°22′37.72″N 71°5′39.45″W / 42.3771444°N 71.0942917°W / 42.3771444; -71.0942917Coordinates: 42°22′37.72″N 71°5′39.45″W / 42.3771444°N 71.0942917°W / 42.3771444; -71.0942917
Owned byMBTA
Line(s)Union Square Branch
Platforms1 island platform (Green Line)
Tracks2 (Green Line)
2 (Fitchburg Line)
Bicycle facilities"Pedal and Park" bicycle cage[1]
Disabled accessYes
Opening2021 (planned)[2]
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
Lechmere Green Line
Starting 2021

Union Square is a planned rapid transit station on the MBTA Green Line "E" Branch in the Union Square district of southeastern Somerville, Massachusetts.[3][4] Union Square will have one island platform that will serve the "E" Branch's two tracks.[1]

In September 2013, the state secured funding to move forward on the Green Line Extension to build three new stations by 2017, signing a 51-month $393 million contract. Construction began in 2014 for Union Square, as well as Washington Street and the relocated Lechmere. After contract cancellations and delays, the station is expected to open in 2021.


Green Line Extension[edit]

Planned station site in December 2011 before clearing

In August 2012, the City of Somerville, MassDOT, and the MBTA reached a memorandum of agreement about the station. Through the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, the City will acquire $8 million worth of land for the station and grant the MBTA a permanent easement, while retaining the rights for transit-oriented development overhead. In return, the MBTA and MassDOT will pay for cleanup costs at the site, begin construction by the spring of 2014, and open the station no later than "late 2016-early 2017".[5]

In October 2012, the Somerville Board of Aldermen approved the Union Square Redevelopment Plan and authorized an $8 million bond, including $6 million to purchase the land and $2 million for cleanup and station planning.[6] In May 2013, the Board of Aldermen announced that the North Prospect block - a mostly industrial area bordered by the railroad tracks, Prospect Street, Somerville Avenue, and the rear of residential properties on Allen Street - had been acquired by the city via eminent domain for $4.5 million. The properties were to be vacated by August. The city also received a $1 million EPA grant to clean up one of the properties.[7] Site cleanup began in September 2014.[8]

After major cost increases due to contractors increasing costs above estimates became public in 2015, MassDOT cancelled contracts and scaled back sections of the project. A new design released in May 2016 removed direct access from the Prospect Street overpass (which required elevators, escalators, and stairs) and platform canopies.[9] In December 2016, the MBTA announced a new planned opening date of 2021 for the extension.[2] As of November 2019, a private developer will fund an elevator connecting the station to the overpass. The elevator may open later than the station.[10]

Commuter rail[edit]

Extant steps leading to the long-gone commuter rail station

Union Square was formerly a commuter rail stop on the Fitchburg Railroad (now the Fitchburg Line). It opened in 1835 as one of the original stations on the line and was originally called Prospect Street.[11][12] Service to Somerville and Union Square stations ended on July 9, 1938, in concert with the end of passenger service on the Watertown Branch.[13][14][15] A set of steps which led to the station is still extant next to Webster Avenue.

Restoring commuter rail service to Union Square has been considered; by 2003, a stop was expected to opened within five years.[16] The 2004 state Program for Mass Transportation estimated such a station would attract 390 daily riders.[13] A Union Square commuter rail station was listed as a possibility in 2012 as an interim air quality mitigation measure in response to delays in building the Green Line Extension.[17] However, such a station would not be popular with riders from the rest of the Fitchburg Line, which is already slow due to closely spaced stations. The station could also not have been completed by the 2015 deadline, and was not supported by MassDOT.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Washington Street and Union Square Stations: November 6, 2014" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b Dungca, Nicole (December 7, 2016). "New Green Line stations are delayed until 2021". Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  3. ^ "MBTA Light Rail Transit System OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE PLAN" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Travel Forecasts: Systemwide Stats and SUMMIT Results" (PDF). Green Line Extension Project: FY 2012 New Starts Submittal. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. January 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  5. ^ Orchard, Chris (3 August 2012). "Agreement Says Union Square Green Line Station Operational by 2017". Somerville Patch. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  6. ^ Orchard, Chris (12 October 2012). "Aldermen Authorize $8 Million Bond for Union Square Green Line Site". Somerville Patch. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  7. ^ Gallant, Leah (7 June 2013). "Somerville board acquires land for Green Line Extension". Wicked Local Somerville. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  8. ^ Maher, Amanda (26 September 2014). "UNION SQUARE GREEN LINE STATION SITE WORK BEGINS" (Press release). City of Somerville. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Green Line Extension Review Interim Project Management Team: Final Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. May 9, 2016.
  10. ^ Levy, Marc (November 20, 2019). "Buses will be back for 11 months at Lechmere as green line extension T project rolls onward". Cambridge Day.
  11. ^ "Squares and Neighborhoods - Union Square/Boynton Yards". City of Somerville. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012.
  12. ^ H.F. Walling (1854). Map of the City of Cambridge (Report). George L. Dix – via Ward Maps.
  13. ^ a b Central Transportation Planning Staff (January 2004). "Chapter 5C: Service Expansion" (PDF). 2004 Program for Mass Transportation. Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  14. ^ Humphrey, Thomas J.; Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. ISBN 9780938315025.
  15. ^ "At the State House". Boston Globe. April 12, 1938. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  16. ^ Bluestone Planning Group (April 2003). "Union Square Master Plan" (PDF). City of Somerville. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 26, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Central Transportation Planning Staff (23 January 2012). "Green Line Extension SIP Mitigation Inventory" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 5 December 2012.

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