- The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has awarded Arup USA a $1.5 million contract to study a plan to link north and south stations in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Boston rail system, according to the Boston Business Journal.
- Arup is tasked with determining whether the project is viable and deserves more analysis. The company will also provide MassDOT with estimated costs and benefits. The current projected cost of the new system, dubbed the North South Rail Link, is $2 billion to $5 billion.
- Advocates of the North South Rail Link contend that the project, which would include construction of a 2.7-mile tunnel, would better connect those living on the north side of the city to South Boston's growing business and innovation districts, as well as ease congestion from other train traffic. Arup's study is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Before proceeding with the rail project, MassDOT must get a handle on issues like right-of-way requirements and costs, engineering, the latest technology and design, and other procurement and project considerations. MassDOT must also come up with solid and up-to-date ridership numbers.
More rail extensions, as well as other transportation projects, are part of the city's Go Boston 2030 Vision and Action plan, which outlines $4.7 billion of infrastructure and transportation projects during the next 13 years. The city has identified 58 specific projects that officials say will expand mass transit access throughout the city, increase safety, improve transportation system reliability, connect residents to better economic opportunities and prepare the city for the challenges that come with climate change, including sea-level rise.
The city recently got one of its most high-profile problem projects back on track. The Green Line light-rail extension has been a thorn in the side of city officials since the MBTA fired the original contracting team in late 2015. The project had projected cost overruns of $1 billion, and MBTA officials said they did not believe the procurement method adequately served taxpayers. However, outside consultants indicated that MBTA mismanagement also played a significant role in the Green Line's problems.
After redesigning the project down to $2.3 billion, MBTA won approval — and a $1 billion grant — from the Federal Transit Administration to proceed. In May, the MBTA hired CH2M to oversee the project, but it still must choose a design-build team. Construction is expected to resume in February 2018.