- The Massachusetts DOT and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced Monday that Phase 1 of the $1 billion South Coast Rail project, which will connect Boston and the southeast region of the state via commuter train, now has a completed financial plan and has secured a critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit. However, the project start date has been pushed back one year from 2022 to 2023.
- The South Coast Rail will be 100% funded through Massachusetts’ Capital Investment Plan (CIP), which relieves the MBTA of paying for it or having to issue revenue bonds. The CIP, however, will use a combination of general obligation bonds and special obligation bonds to pay for the expansion.
- The project will include extending an existing line using diesel-powered trains, reconstructing 28 miles of rail, upgrading 7 miles of existing track, and constructing two new layover facilities and six new stations. Early infrastructure work and acquisition of the necessary land is underway. The new service start date for Phase 1 comes after an evaluation of the project by three reviewers — one an outside consultant to the MBTA.
The MBTA has been working on the South Coast rail for years. In fact, it awarded a $210 million, 10-year program and construction management contract for the project back in June 2014. The contract, which went to Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) and HNTB Corp., covered the full South Coast project and included reconstruction of 44 rail crossings and 34 bridges, as well as four new bridges and five new crossings.
Phase 2 of the project will consist of an electrified line to Stoughton, Massachusetts, expected to cost more than $3 billion.
Currently, existing rights of way are being widened to make room for the MBTA Green Line extension’s new tracks and stations. Construction will extend the existing line about 5 miles to the north and will see the building of seven new stations and a vehicle storage and maintenance facility.
The Green Line has survived multiple challenges, including losing its original construction team. In December 2015, the MBTA fired all of the project's lead contractors after estimated cost overruns of $1 billion. MBTA officials claimed at the time that the maximum-price contract procurement method encouraged higher costs.
After that shakeup, the Federal Transit Administration held onto a $1 billion grant while the MBTA did a redesign, beefed up its internal management capabilities and rebid the project. The authority awarded the project to Fluor-led GLX Constructors, and the FTA then recommitted funds to the Green Line. GLX said it might be able to add back in some of the features that were cut in the redesign through cost savings in other areas.