Case Study 8.2 Bostons Central Artery/Tunnel Project

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Executive Summary

The Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) project is one of the most complex, and certainly the most costly, public-infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the United States. Often called the “Big Dig,” the project was conceived to improve the traffic flow in downtown Boston and link several major roadways and transportation hubs. It was intended to replace a badly deteriorated and congested elevated roadway (I-93, the “Central Artery” through Boston), extend the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to Logan Airport through a harbor tunnel, provide an interchange of I-90 and I-93, and replace the I-93 bridge over the Charles River. The project was originally estimated to cost $2.6 billion (1982 dollars) and be completed in 1998. The current estimate is $14.6 billion (2002 dollars) with completion anticipated in 2005. All design work has essentially been done, construction is about 85 percent complete, and portions of the project are now being put into operation.

The overall responsibility for the CA/T project was initially assigned to the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, which became the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) in 1991. The MHD hired a joint venture of the firms Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, hereinafter referred to as B/PB, to serve as project manager. In 1997, the state legislature designated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) to be owner/operator of the overall Metropolitan Highway System, with consequent responsibility for management of the CA/T project. That management function is now performed by an integrated project organization (IPO) of MTA staff and B/PB staff who essentially work as one single organization under the direction of the MTA.

The Central Artery/Tunnel project has had many noteworthy technological accomplishments that will serve to guide future urban construction. Among them are the deep slurry walls constructed in soft clay, the soil-freezing and tunnel-jacking operation at the Fort Point Channel crossing, and the Leonard P.Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, which is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. It must also be noted that extensive construction has taken place in a dense urban area with minimal damage to existing structures and utilities, traffic has been kept flowing through a busy city for over a decade, and a major railroad yard continued operations while a tunnel was built beneath it.

Accomplishments have not been limited to the technological. The CA/T project team has been sensitive to the needs and desires of the communities that were inevitably affected by the construction activities. The Owner-Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP) was an effective and cost-reducing response to the challenge of obtaining adequate insurance coverage for the large numbers of engineering and contracting firms involved in the project. And the project’s safety record for 2002–5.5 recordable worker injuries per 100 full-time employees—is significantly below the national average of 8.2.

This report was requested by the MTA, which sought an independent assessment of the CA/T project’s current project-management and contract-administration practices. The MTA wished to determine if such practices will be adequate for completing the project in a timely and cost-effective manner. The report therefore focuses on project-management and contract-administration practices and procedures in place as of October 2002 and looks toward the future—that is, to the end of the project and its transition to a fully operational system. The report does not attempt to address the many past controversies that have surrounded the project’s justification, funding, cost, schedule, or management; it considers prior project performance, cost

ITEC 388 – Applied Project Management Case Study #6Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel ProjectWhen it was opened in 19 5 9 , Boston’s Central Artery highway was hailed as a marvel of engineering and forward-thinking urban planning. Designed as an elevated six-lane highway through the middle of the city, the highway was intended to carry a traffic volume of 75,000 vehicles a day. Unfortunately, by the early 1980s, the Central Artery was burdened by a daily volume of more than 200,000 vehicles, a nearly threefold increase over the anticipated maximum traffic levels. The result was some of t he worst urban congestion in the country, with traffic locked bumper to bumper for more than 10 hours each day. At over four times the national average, the accident rate for the Central Artery addedto commuters' misery. Clearly, the Central A r t e r ya crumbling overused, and increasinglydangerous stretch of highway-had outlived its usefulness. The solution to the problem was the advent of the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) project, commonly known to people from the Boston area as the "Big Dig." Under the supervision of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and using federal and state funding, the CA/T project comprises two main elements: (1) replacing the aging elevated roadway with an 8 to 10 lane underground expressway directly beneath the existing road, with a 14-lane, two-bridge crossing of the Charles River, and (2) extending Interstate 90 through a tunnel beneath South Boston and the harbor to Logan Airport. Originally conceived and initiated in the early 1980s, the project hasbeen a continuous activity in the city for more than 20 years.The technical challenges in the Big Dig have been enormous. Employing at its peak

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