green line, mbta, green line extension
The Green Line Extension project is slated for completion on Dec. 10, 2021, according to the project manager. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday awarded a $1.08 billion design and construction contract for the long-awaited Green Line Extension project, the most concrete step yet for a project once thought to be at risk of falling by the wayside.

 

The FMCB on Monday approved the contract for GLX Constructors, a joint venture of Fluor Enterprises, Inc., The Middlesex Corp., Herzog Contracting Corp., and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. GLX Constructors was the winning bidder with a price offering of $954,618,600, including all six optional additions the MBTA had asked bidders to try to work into their price. The contract award of $1,082,118,600 includes contingency costs.

 

Over the years, there have been many project setbacks and advances. In 2008, state transportation officials said the project had been "the subject of extensive planning over several decades." On Monday, public officials again voice optimism about the actually building the rail line.

 

"Not long ago, many had lost confidence in this project's future, but thanks to the tireless efforts of the MBTA, MassDOT and the consulting team we are in a much different place," MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez said.

 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MBTA halted the trolley extension project in 2015 after its estimated costs had ballooned as much as 50 percent to $3 billion. During that freeze, consultants and T officials scaled down the scope of the project — platform canopies, some elevators, public art and connections to a community path were removed from the project. Those items were included on a list of six things the MBTA asked contractors to try to provide within the scope of their bid. Last year, MassDOT okayed a $2.289 billion version of the project.

Expected to serve 50,000 riders, the Green Line Extension will rebuild the northern terminus of the Green Line in East Cambridge and include another six trolley stations. Somerville and Cambridge, two cities which expect to benefit from the extension, have pitched in a total of $75 million —$50 million from Somerville and $25 million from Cambridge — to pay for the project.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone spoke to the FMCB at its meeting Monday and thanked Gov. Charlie Baker, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and the administration for sticking with the project.

"It would have been an easy thing for people to bow to political pressure and kick this project to the side. But collectively, you all saw the benefits of the Green Line that it brings, not only to a community that was underserved for generations (and) that has several environmental justice issues, but the benefits this project brings to the entire region and commonwealth," Curtatone said. "You should be commended. Your approach worked and this project is going to be built."

FMCB member Brian Shortsleeve, who led the T as interim general manager before joining the FMCB earlier this year, said he hopes the way the Green Line Extension bid process was run — not just going with the lowest bidder but scoring each bid based on cost, value and performance, utilizing an affordability cap and proposing a list of project add-ons — will "encourage us to think actively on how we can do more things like this, new ways of doing business."

"This is a very different project than the way the T would typically deliver it," Shortsleeve said.

Project Manager John Dalton has said he expects to give the design-build team the go-ahead, or notice to proceed, on Dec. 11, about two months earlier than originally anticipated. The project completion date is pegged at Dec. 10, 2021, Dalton has said.