Boston Subway repair contract cancelled Jan 2010
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
- Parsons Brinckerhoff lost a $2.7 million design contract for tunnel safety and repair work in Massachusetts last week after the State failed to approve the contract.
- The gian engineering firm was selected two years ago to do tunnel rehabilitation work on the Boston Subway, but, citing financial constraints, the MBTA's (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) Board of Directors decided to pull the contract from last Tuesday's agenda (January 5, 2010) and put it out for re-bid in the hope of getting a better deal.
Fig 1. Boston Subway
- Parsons Brinckerhoff Spokesperson, Judy Cooper says the company was very surprised by the decision since MBTA's own engineers deemed it to be the most qualified for the job.
- Some MBTA board members have questioned if Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) should be doing business with the State after a section of concrete ceiling fell in one of Boston's Big Dig tunnels in 2007 and killed a motorist. PB in joint venture with Bechtel led design and construction oversight of the notorious project and was forced to pay a $458 million settlement with the State in January 2008.
- According to MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo, PB's past record was not a determining factor in the board's decision. He said, faced with a $186 million deficit, the MBTA made a decision 18 months ago to defer funding professional services contracts with bond money. "A new assistant general manager took over the Design and Construction Department about six months ago, and he decided to see if the Board of Directors was now ready to consider the item," Pesaturo said.
- The contract included design of repair work on the Boston Subway's Blue, Green and Orange Line tunnels (Fig 1). Pesaturo said the repairs were not critical and could wait (Fig 1). A similar contract was awarded to Jacobs Engineering in November 2009 for the Red Line tunnels. Pesaturo said that contract was awarded because numerous leaks in the tunnel were considered a safety concern and the repair work could not be delayed.
- As part of the Big Dig legal settlement, Parsons Brinckerhoff retained the right to bid public contracts in Massachusetts. The State's Department of Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan is quoted as saying he would be comfortable considering PB for future work with the state.
- Parsons Brinckerhoff has been doing business in Massachusetts for more than 100 years on projects such as the Cape Cod Canal, the Moakley Courthouse, and the Post Office Square Park and Garage.
- MBTA expects to advertise for bids on the outstanding contract in the next month or two.
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