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1 Introduction BACKGROUND This report provides an assessment of project-management and contract-administration practices currently being employed for the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) Project, often called the “Big Dig,” in Boston, Massachusetts. The project was originally estimated to cost $2.6 billion (base year 1982 dollars, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) approved by the Federal Highway Administration in 1985) and was to be completed in 1998. Now it is estimated cost is $14.6 billion in current dollars ($8.0 billion in 1982 dollars) and completion is expected in 2005. The design of the project has essentially been done, all major contracts have been awarded, and construction is approximately 85 percent complete. The CA/T project consists of three major parts. The first is a highway tunnel that replaces a 50-year-old badly deteriorated and congested elevated highway known as the Central Artery (I-93) that traverses downtown Boston from North to South. The original highway had been designed to carry 75,000 vehicles daily but is now used by 200,000. Removal of the elevated highway will create 27 acres of open space. The second part of the project includes extension of the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to Logan Airport through a third harbor crossing, known as the Ted Williams Tunnel. This segment will also allow northbound traffic on I-93 to interchange with east-west traffic on I-90 and connect with the Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport. The interchange requires a series of tunnels, viaducts, and ramps operating at five different levels. The third part of the project is a bridge and its associated interchange system, which will replace the I-93 bridge over the Charles River. In summary, the CA/T project’s new tunnels and bridges are intended to alleviate serious traffic congestion, eliminate a troublesome eyesore, reconnect old neighborhoods, and create open space in the middle of a historic city. The project map is shown in Figure 1.1. ENGINEERING CHALLENGES New construction consists of 161 lane miles, almost half of them underground, in 7.5 miles of right-of-way through downtown Boston and the surrounding areas and many new on/off ramps tied into the existing surface streets. In the process of construction, underground utilities relating to gas, water, electric, sewer, and telephone, many of them dating from the 19th century, have been relocated and modernized. All of this will have been accomplished while keeping the downtown Boston area fully operational. Engineering accomplishments have included erection of the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the biggest use of slurry wall construction in North America, jack tunneling under active railroad tracks through unstable soils, and other novel technologies for highway bridges and submersible tunnels.
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FIGURE 1.1 Project Map (Source: http://www.bigdig.com/thtml/maps01.htm) The project will be opened in stages: the Ted Williams Tunnel, already used by weekday commercial traffic for several years, was opened to all weekday traffic in January 2003 in conjunction with the extension of I-90; the northbound lanes of the new Central Artery are scheduled to be opened in March 2003, and the southbound lanes in February 2004. The old Central Artery is scheduled to be demolished later in 2004. The CA/T project conducted extensive outreach to involve stakeholders during the project’s planning and design, which resulted in many modifications and extensive mitigation measures. For just the air rights component alone (pertaining to development projects above roadways), over 70 meetings were held between 1998 and 2000, and a master plan, called “Civic Vision for Turnpike Air Rights in Boston,” was adopted by the MTA and the City of Boston. The existence of such active citizen involvement and consensus-building by state and local agencies suggest that stakeholders are likely to continue their involvement in the project up to its completion.
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PROJECT MANAGEMENT The state’s Secretary of Transportation initially assigned overall responsibility for the CA/T project to the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MDPW), which became the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) in 1991. This assignment carried a proviso that the agency hire an exceptionally experienced and capable contractor as project manager. In 1985, MDPW entered into an agreement with a joint venture of the firms Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, hereinafter referred to as B/PB in this report, to prepare a preliminary project management plan. Later that year, MDPW issued a 1-year contract to B/PB to develop a comprehensive work plan for managing and reviewing design consultants. This contract was followed by a number of limited-term contracts, called “work programs,” extending to the present. Ultimately, B/PB coordinated and managed all project activities by both representing and advising the owner (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts). The owner retained the authority to make actual decisions, but B/PB had substantial control over design and construction. In 1997, the state legislature designated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) the owner/operator of the Metropolitan Highway System with responsibility for management of the CA/T project. Funding to this day, however, still goes through MHD. Nevertheless, the CA/T project team reports that the current arrangement, whereby the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), MHD, and MTA coordinate the funding and oversight of the project, is working efficiently. Currently, the overall management of the CA/T project is performed by an integrated project organization (IPO) composed of MTA staff and B/PB staff mixed in at various levels into one single organization. The project director is an MTA employee. Further discussion of the project’s organizational structure can be found throughout the remainder of this report. EXTERNAL OVERSIGHT A number of major independent reviewers have analyzed the CA/T project’s management and organizational structure, cost savings, effectiveness and efficiency, and change-order process. First, the FHWA has responsibility for oversight of the project as a whole because it distributes federal funds via the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). FHWA is responsible for ensuring that the project adheres to federal regulations and standards, and it is expected to evaluate the state’s programs critically and provide technical assistance as necessary. Many of the technical aspects of the project’s contracts, including changes, are approved by FHWA. The DOT Inspector General and independent review panels have in turn reviewed the FHWA oversight activities. State agencies, including the Massachusetts State Auditor and Inspector General, provide reviews of various costs, revenues, and processes. The Massachusetts State Office of Administration and Finance contracts with a major auditing firm to provide a DOT-mandated evaluation of the yearly Cost and Schedule Update (CSU). The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has also performed various audits of the CA/T project. Additionally, bondholders, the press, and local citizens’ groups, including the Artery Business Committee and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, follow the CA/T project closely.
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NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL INVOLVEMENT The present independent assessment of project-management and contract-administration practices now being employed for the CA/T project was requested by the MTA; the assessment’s aim was to determine whether such practices are adequate to bring the project to completion in a timely and cost-effective manner. That assessment, resulting in this report, reviewed procedures in place as of October 2002 and only considered prior project performance, cost and schedule escalation, and financing plans only to the extent that they may affect future performance. The assessment was performed by an expert committee appointed by the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC’s Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment (BICE), in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the NRC’s Transportation Research Board (TRB), helped to oversee the study process. Experts were screened to ensure no recent direct involvement on their part with the project or its management consultant. The committee members who undertook this study had expertise in the key areas of project management, contract administration and management, and transportation-agency administration. Biographies of committee members are presented in Appendix A. The committee’s task was to address the following five specific issues: The adequacy of current procedures for balancing the CA/T project’s cost and schedule issues and the degree to which its multiplicity of projects and priorities are being successfully organized and implemented. Refinements to the organization and management processes for the contract-administration function, including the control of change orders, the contractor-claims process, the execution of contract modifications, and the review of cost-recovery issues. Recommended improvements to the reporting and controls procedures, including determination of whether the appropriate amount of information is being provided to project management for decision-making purposes. Adequacy of methods employed by the owner (MTA) to oversee the management consultant (B/PB). The appropriateness and effectiveness of the structure for the project’s transition from construction to an operable transportation-infrastructure system. This report addresses each of these issues separately in the five chapters that follow. Its intention is not to identify causes or assign responsibility for past project performance but to provide an assessment of the present situation and its potential future. However, the report does include a brief review of relevant project history in order to establish context for the findings and recommendations. The committee could not conduct an independent audit in the time allotted for this study and was therefore constrained to accept the information included in prior audit reports and what was directly presented to it by the MTA and IPO. The committee did not review design or construction details of the individual projects.
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MEETINGS AND BRIEFINGS Most of the information analyzed in this study was obtained from the CA/T project staff. The committee met in Boston for two 3-day meetings in October and November of 2002. During those meetings, the CA/T project staff—augmented by representatives from B/PB, MTA, FHWA, and other agencies—briefed the committee on aspects of the project relating to the five specific issues it was charged to address. The committee also toured the entire site of the project, with project staff as guides, during one October afternoon. In addition, a one-day roundtable discussion was held in Washington, D.C., in December 2002 to allow the committee to hear from both contractors and engineering consultants on the CA/T project. Among the participants in the discussion were representatives from Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM), the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA), and the CA/T project management team. REFERENCES Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA). 2002. “Maps+Plans.” Available online at http://www.bigdig.com/thtml/maps01.htm [December 31, 2002].
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