UPDATE: Boston officials' revised plan for the Green Line extension secured support from Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Mary Beth Mello, a key federal official, according to The Boston Globe. Mello told Boston officials in a letter that the "scaled-down" proposal would likely be acceptable to secure the agreed-upon $1 billion in funding from the federal government.
However, Mello added that the federal government must still investigate all aspects of the proposal before offering its official support. She said the transit administration "must have every confidence" that the state transportation authority can properly manage and execute the project on time and within budget.
- The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority voted Monday to proceed with a $2.3 billion, "scaled-down version" of the Green Line light-rail extension, The Boston Globe reported.
- The boards will now submit the revamped plan for the beleaguered Green Line to the federal government, which must approve the changes.
- State transportation officials said there is still no guarantee that the project ultimately will move forward, as it still lacks $73 million in funding, and "dozens" of MBTA officials must be hired and trained on the new design-build contracting method.
The MBTA found $620 million in savings from the once-$3 billion project, including more than $400 million resulting from modifying station designs and altering the layout of walking and cycling paths. Station fare gates and escalators also got the boot, and three elevators also were deleted from the updated design, The Globe reported. The project includes seven new stations and almost 5 miles of track, which state officials said should take five years. However, delays could add as much as $1.63 million a month.
The project will move forward under the design-build contracting method, which has not been used often for Massachusetts transportation projects, according to The Globe. The design-build method is growing in popularity, as proponents tout its cost-reduction and timesaving benefits on intricate projects, largely because designers and builders collaborate before the design phase begins in order to streamline the construction process and eliminate conflicts.
After delays, cost overruns and lots of blame to go around, the MBTA terminated all of the Green Line's lead contractors in December, including the joint venture of White-Skanska-Kiewit. Before the major contractors were terminated, the Green Line, at $642 million per mile, was on its way to becoming the state's most expensive MBTA project in the last 35 years.
While the MBTA focused finger pointing at the project's contract procurement process, a previously unreleased Berkeley Research Group report found the failure of the MBTA and its consultants to reconcile the difference between cost estimates of the Green Line contractors early on in the project increased the likelihood of the problems that eventually sidelined it.