Boston taps new contractor for $2B Green Line light-rail extension
- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has selected a contractor for the reboot of the $2.2 billion Green Line light-rail extension in Boston, according to The Boston Globe.
- The MBTA picked GLX Constructors' $1.08 billion bid for the design-build phase of the project, which came in under the agency's revised budget of $1.3 billion. GLX said it would add back in pieces of the project — part of a bike lane, elevators, a maintenance facility — that were eliminated as part of the MBTA's cost-cutting efforts.
- The 4.7-mile Green Line extension is the biggest project in MBTA history and will add seven stations to the system between Cambridge, MA, and Medford, MA.
The Green Line project was in danger of being shelved at the end of 2015 after the MBTA fired all lead contractors and said the project would exceed the budget by $1 billion if allowed to move forward. The MBTA then went back to the drawing board and redesigned the project, reducing costs by $700 million in order to retain a $1 billion grant commitment from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The revamp of the project also included hiring a new manager, John Dalton, who has previous transit experience.
In an unfortunate twist for CH2M Hill, the MBTA canceled its $57 million management contract for the Green Line after Jacobs Engineering, which was also part of a joint venture bidding on the light-rail extension, purchased the company.
The Metropolitan Council, which is the agency in charge of the $2 billion Minneapolis-area Southwest light rail project, hasn't redesigned the project but has reconfigured the bid package, according to the Star Tribune, after four bids submitted in September were too high. Proposals, according to the Southwest Journal, ranged from $796.5 million to $1.1 billion for the 14.5-mile project.
The next round of bids is due in January 2018, which translates to a construction start date somewhere in late 2018 and completion in 2021. The Metropolitan Council is also expected to delay its application for almost $930 million in FTA grants to the second quarter of 2018.
Supporters of the Southwest light-rail project had to work around state Republicans who voted to deny the extension of the funding necessary to secure a federal grant. The Council and neighboring counties, however, came up with the money on their own. In February, Republicans once again tries to scuttle the project by introducing a resolution that would have allowed them to ask the FTA to redirect the Southwest's money away from the light-rail and into state road and bridge projects instead.
The FTA said that grants like those for which the Southwest rail would apply could only be used for major capital projects.
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