Utility lines force MBTA to revisit Ball Square station design
The MBTA Green Line Extension project team is working to modify the Ball Square station design in Medford to accommodate an unexpectedly problematic NStar electrical line.
At a meeting of the GLX Design Working Group Thursday night at Tufts University, Mary Ainsley, Director of Design and Construction for the MBTA, said the team needed to “revisit the headhouse location” at Ball Square due to the line, which crosses under the existing commuter rail tracks and must remain in place and accessible.
“At first when we designed the station, the electrical line seemed relatively easy to move, but it turned out to be something that absolutely cannot be moved, and [NStar] does not want station infrastructure built over it,” explained Karen Arpino-Shaffer, Deputy Program Manager for the GLX. Arpino-Shaffer, of Gilbane Co., noted that an issue with an MRWA line at Ball Square also needs to be resolved. “We have not changed the design yet,” she said, “but we are working with the utilities to figure out how to maintain a lot of the work that we’ve done with the community for this station, and how we can modify it to get around the utilities.”
Arpino-Shaffer said the team prefers to keep the headhouse on the Medford side of Broadway, where it currently is proposed, and that it was unclear whether additional property might be required to accommodate a modified design.
Here are some other highlights from Thursday night’s meeting:
– Completed advanced conceptual design
– Completed NEPA (federal environmental review) process
– Construction Manager/General Contractor procurement method approved by MBTA board; awaiting approval from Inspector General (expected “any day, any week”)
– Hired advanced preliminary engineering and final design team, a joint venture led by AECOM Technology Corp. and HNTB that began work in late September. The team is managed by Greg Yates, vice president at AECOM’s Boston office, who worked with Mary Ainsley on Silver Line Phase III planning.
NEW DESIGN TEAM:
– Greg Yates of AECOM introduced the new preliminary engineering and final design team, which includes 13 subconsultants. Yates said that of the 80 to100 full-time people who will work on this project, “79 to 99 of them live in the Boston area.” Yates added, “We thrilled to be part of a project as good as this and we’re also right in our back yards, so we have a tremendous vested interest.”
– Yates described AECOM as “probably the largest engineering services company in the world,” noting that AECOM is the No. 1 mass transit design firm according to Engineering News-Record, and that HNTB is ranked No. 4 [based on annual revenue].
STATION DESIGN UPDATES:
– Gilman Square: The team is considering putting more of the headhouse infrastructure over the Green Line tracks so entrance could be easily made from either side, including up and over the commuter rail tracks.
– Lechmere: The headhouse is being relocated to the other side of East Street to allow the platform to be built large enough to accommodate future four-car Green Line trains, and to be closer to the pedestrian crossing to the mall and NorthPoint. Also, automated fare collection turnstiles are being added in an extended entrance to the headhouse. Work is also being done to improve pedestrian crossings, and accommodations for a Hubway bike-sharing station is being considered.
– College Avenue, Lowell Street, Washington Street: No significant changes since spring.
– Union Square: No changes, but considering options for a second headhouse entrance.
– Ball Square: See above.
VALUE ENGINEERING REVIEW:
– A Value Engineering Workshop was held last week in which a team of outside engineers reviews the project and tries to identify ways to lower costs. A list of 82 recommendations were presented to the project team, which is reviewing them and preparing a response to present to the MBTA Value Engineering Committee.
– Phase I construction is expected to being within the next two months, pending official awarding of the contract to the low bidder, Barletta Heavy Construction.
– The MBTA is committed to getting to 60% design by next September (current design is at 30%)
– The MBTA intends to select and award the contract for the Construction Manager/General Contractor in Spring 201
– The construction schedule still calls for opening of the new Lechmere, Washington Street and Union Square stations in late 2016/early 2017 (with construction starting in mid-2014), with the opening of the Gilman Street, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue stations in June 2019.
– The MBTA is continuing to prepare its final submission for federal New Starts funding for the project in 2013. However, Ainsley reiterated that it is imperative for the state legislature to find a solution to the MBTA’s current underfinancing early next year, noting that New Starts funding for Silver Line Phase III was denied due to the MBTA’s financial straits.
– The MBTA is appealing a decision by the state Building Inspector regarding how emergency egress is provided at College Avenue, Ball Square, Lowell Street and Union Square stations.
– The MBTA is looking for transit-accessible office space to house the entire project team
under one roof from April 1, 2013 through the duration of the project. A total of 16,000 to 20,000 square feet is desired. Somerville resident Wig Zamore suggested the MBTA look at the former Priscilla’s of Boston dress factory that is for rent across from Sullivan Station.
NEXT PROJECT MEETING:
– Tuesday, December 11: Somerville Community Path design update meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Somerville Holiday Inn, 30 Washington Street, Somerville.
– Ken Krause, Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance