Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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AECOM is the prime consultant of a joint venture and responsible for assisting with program management, engineering and architectural design, public participation, environmental compliance, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts support for the $2.1 billion project. The Silver Line is a bus rapid transit (BRT) line that will provide service from Dudley Square and Back Bay to the emerging South Boston waterfront and Logan International Airport. The Phase III tunnel segment, located within the densely developed downtown, represents a critical link between Phase I (in operation from Dudley Square to downtown) and Phase II (completed in 2003), connecting South Station to the waterfront and the airport. The Silver Line, when fully operational in 2016, will be Boston’s fifth transit line.

Environmental Clearance – AECOM managed preparation of a final environmental impact statement/report under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) to respond to project changes since the predecessor transitway project was approved in 1994. Key environmental issues included compliance with Section 4(f)/106 due to the extensive historic and archeological resources within the alignment corridor, including the Boston Common; urban design interface of surface elements of the underground stations and tunnel portal; and construction-phase impacts associated with underground construction in the densely developed business and residential urban area, including the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. To respond to the environmental and community issues, to enhance ridership, and make the project more cost effective, a number of alternative alignments and portal locations were developed. An extensive community-focused public involvement program was also implemented to involve the environmental justice organizations in the project area.

New Starts – An important early task was preparation of the annual New Starts report to FTA. To prepare the submission, the entire MBTA finance plan and capital program was evaluated and included developing a cost allocation model, a 30-year sources and uses of funds analysis (capital and operating), ridership forecasts, and fare revenue forecasts. As a result of the team’s efforts, the project earned a “recommended” rating from FTA. AECOM will continue to assist the MBTA with its annual New Starts reports to FTA and the request for a full funding grant agreement (FFGA) for the project as it moves toward construction.

Engineering and Architectural Design – AECOM is also leading engineering and design of the project. The first phase in the FTA’s New Starts process will be to prepare preliminary engineering drawings, outline specifications, and develop a construction cost estimate that will provide a greater level of certainty in the overall program budget. Through this phase of the project, the tunnels, station structures, and architectural features will be designed to a preliminary level. Although the fire/life safety systems, facility systems, and transitway systems may be procured under a performance-based specification, these systems will also be engineered to a preliminary level to more accurately assess construction cost. Preliminary construction staging and maintenance and protection of traffic plans were prepared to address the constructibility and associated costs in the construction estimate.