7
Conclusions

Pursuant to the committee’s statement of task, its review of the project concentrated on five areas: cost and schedule procedures, contract administration, reporting and controls, oversight of the management consultant, and the transition from construction to operations. In all cases the committee’s emphasis was on the present situation and the actions necessary to bring the CA/T project to a successful conclusion.

Specific findings and recommendations in these areas are presented in the body of this report. But in general, the committee believes that the current management structure, with the modifications recommended in this report, can successfully complete the project.

The overarching importance of two matters warrants special emphasis. First, the project currently has approximately 3500 outstanding claims (about 3200 construction claims and 350 design claims), with an average age of about 600 days. They constitute a large and uncertain financial burden and a potential cause for further delay in closing out the project. These outstanding issues also indicate an inability to reach closure and make contractor payments.

The MTA is aware of the problem, but it needs to move with much more vigor and urgency to resolve it. The MTA should assign adequate staff to this issue and accelerate decision making. The committee believes the long-term savings created by timely resolution of claims will outweigh the short-term expense of possibly adding additional staff.

Resolving the claims is further impeded by the present requirement that claims over $250,000 be automatically sent to the legal staff before the engineers and other technical staff familiar with the details can resolve the issue. This inevitably introduces an adversarial element into the process before the technical issues can be addressed.

Second, the project is entering a phase during which operational elements will be turned over to the operations and maintenance organization. As the committee was drafting this report, the completion date for the I-90 portion of the project (connecting the present turnpike extension to the Ted Williams Tunnel) slipped from its original date in November 2002 and finally accomplished over the weekend of January 18, 2003. The delay was ascribed to problems with instrumentation in the roadway tunnels, including some difficulty obtaining access to appropriate areas. In any case, it illustrated the need for proper organization and management of the transition from construction to operation and maintenance.

The CA/T project is described as the first of many large-scale infrastructure projects that will be needed in the near future; the FHWA alone reports seven current environmental studies for projects that will each be worth over $1 billion. These projects could benefit from the lessons learned from the Big Dig—the causes of the many problems that increased costs and delayed construction, as well as the solutions developed by the management team, design engineers, and construction contractors. Participants in these new projects will need to learn how to develop realistic expectations and manage efforts to achieve them. A detailed, independent, and comprehensive study of the history of the CA/T project and its management would be a prudent investment for the future.



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7 Conclusions Pursuant to the committee’s statement of task, its review of the project concentrated on five areas: cost and schedule procedures, contract administration, reporting and controls, oversight of the management consultant, and the transition from construction to operations. In all cases the committee’s emphasis was on the present situation and the actions necessary to bring the CA/T project to a successful conclusion. Specific findings and recommendations in these areas are presented in the body of this report. But in general, the committee believes that the current management structure, with the modifications recommended in this report, can successfully complete the project. The overarching importance of two matters warrants special emphasis. First, the project currently has approximately 3500 outstanding claims (about 3200 construction claims and 350 design claims), with an average age of about 600 days. They constitute a large and uncertain financial burden and a potential cause for further delay in closing out the project. These outstanding issues also indicate an inability to reach closure and make contractor payments. The MTA is aware of the problem, but it needs to move with much more vigor and urgency to resolve it. The MTA should assign adequate staff to this issue and accelerate decision making. The committee believes the long-term savings created by timely resolution of claims will outweigh the short-term expense of possibly adding additional staff. Resolving the claims is further impeded by the present requirement that claims over $250,000 be automatically sent to the legal staff before the engineers and other technical staff familiar with the details can resolve the issue. This inevitably introduces an adversarial element into the process before the technical issues can be addressed. Second, the project is entering a phase during which operational elements will be turned over to the operations and maintenance organization. As the committee was drafting this report, the completion date for the I-90 portion of the project (connecting the present turnpike extension to the Ted Williams Tunnel) slipped from its original date in November 2002 and finally accomplished over the weekend of January 18, 2003. The delay was ascribed to problems with instrumentation in the roadway tunnels, including some difficulty obtaining access to appropriate areas. In any case, it illustrated the need for proper organization and management of the transition from construction to operation and maintenance. The CA/T project is described as the first of many large-scale infrastructure projects that will be needed in the near future; the FHWA alone reports seven current environmental studies for projects that will each be worth over $1 billion. These projects could benefit from the lessons learned from the Big Dig—the causes of the many problems that increased costs and delayed construction, as well as the solutions developed by the management team, design engineers, and construction contractors. Participants in these new projects will need to learn how to develop realistic expectations and manage efforts to achieve them. A detailed, independent, and comprehensive study of the history of the CA/T project and its management would be a prudent investment for the future.