The MBTA on Monday approved its largest contract for work on the Green Line Extension since the project was halted two years ago amid budget overruns.
At a meeting in Boston, the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board gave the go-ahead to hire CH2M Hill for $57 million from June 2017 through December 2022 — about a year after the expected project completion date.
The Colorado-based consultancy will help the MBTA oversee the firms that will build the $2.2 billion trolley extension. The completed project would carry passengers from the Green Line's current East Cambridge terminal at Lechmere Station, through Somerville and into Medford.
The future of the trolley extension was thrown into question in 2015 when transportation officials announced its cost could be as much as $1 billion higher than earlier anticipated. An MBTA spokesman on Monday confirmed that the $57 million contract for the project manager/construction manager is the largest award since officials rebooted the extension.
"This puts the last piece in place before we actually hire the design-build consortium," Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told the News Service.
Last November, the state hired John Dalton, who previously oversaw construction at the Chicago Transit Authority, to be program manager for the Green Line project.
An internal evaluation process ended April 19 with the recommendation that CH2M Hill be hired for the oversight role. One April memo from a member of the selection committee reported that CH2M Hill anticipated that contaminated soils and hazardous materials would be the biggest risks for the project, which will run alongside existing track through some old industrial areas.
Pollack said that the project and construction management task was previously performed by HDR/Gilbane during the prior iteration of the Green Line Extension. According to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, Gilbane's had a $79 million contract. He said CH2M Hill will "support the MBTA in the strict management of cost control."
After jettisoning White Skanska Kiewit, the prior construction manager/general contractor, MBTA officials over the next several months will select the team to build the roughly 4.5-mile extension.
In February the MBTA identified "three highly-qualified teams" to compete for the design-build contract: GLX Constructors, Green Line Partners, and Walsh Barletta Granite JV.
The MBTA plans to issue its final request for proposals for the design-bid contract on May 23, with bids due in September and work starting next February. Pollack said that some "early work" is already getting underway before the big contract is awarded.
Medford resident Laurel Ruma told the control board she supports the project but wants better communication between the project team and the neighbors like her who live next to the future trolley line. Ruma said during some work removing trees and branches along the right-of-way, her fence was knocked down. While she said the fence was later taken care of, Ruma said a project liaison is "absolutely critical."
Dalton and Pollack both said officials would work on improving communication, and Control Board Chairman Joseph Aiello asked Dalton to meet with Ruma.
About $7 million of CH2M Hill's contract is earmarked for leasing office space near the project. The firm has an international presence and offices in Boston and Cambridge.
According to its website, CH2M Hill in 2007 started working with the Panama Canal Authority on a major expansion of the waterway, and worked on "Europe's largest construction project," Crossrail, linking London's suburbs together.
On Monday, the control board also approved an $8.37 million contract for Keolis Commuter Services — the commuter rail vendor — for early Green Line Extension-related work on signals and other infrastructure along the railroad.