Massachusetts officials on Thursday hailed progress made on the long-awaited Green Line Extension, saying the $2.3 billion project was 50% complete and on track for completion by the end of 2021.
During a press conference at Lechmere Station in Cambridge, Gov. Charlie Baker called the project "game changing" and said it would have a "major impact" by providing access to greater opportunities in housing, education and the job market.
Baker called the progress "a really positive moment during what we can all agree is a very challenging and difficult time" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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The project will extend the Green Line some 4.5 miles north along two branches, from Lechmere Station to Somerville's Union Square and College Avenue in Medford.
It will also add six new stations and a new maintenance building, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said.
During the press conference, Baker also touched on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the state's supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators was in "really good shape."
Baker said he felt "pretty good about where we are going to be this fall" in terms of those supplies, adding he would elaborate further next week.
Baker's appearance came as health experts are beginning to raise concerns about a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state.
Massachusetts reported 510 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and an additional 32 deaths.
There have now been 9,242 confirmed deaths and 129,753 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, remains at 1%, according to the report.
The latest weekly data, including the updated community-level risk assessment map, shows 23 communities considered at the highest risk for transmitting COVID-19, up eight from last week.
Among the changes is Boston moving into the red zone for the first time since the state started tracking the town-by-town data, something that Mayor Marty Walsh had been bracing for since last week.
Baker said his administration would continue to work with Mayor Marty Walsh to bolster testing and tracing in the city, which has been dealing with an influx of students returning to colleges.
The other high-risk communities in Wednesday's report are Attleboro, Avon, Chelsea, Dracut, Everett, Framingham, Haverhill, Holliston, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Lynnfield, Marlborough, Methuen, Middleton, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Andover, Revere, Springfield, Winthrop and Worcester.