Construction Begins On First Phase of Commuter Rail Service to Boston

Wed December 30, 2020 - Northeast Edition #1
Ken Liebeskind -CEG Correspondent

MON Landscaping places erosion control measures along the rail line from Adams Lane, Berkley, Mass., to Brightman’s Lumber Crossing, Freetown, Mass.
MON Landscaping places erosion control measures along the rail line from Adams Lane, Berkley, Mass., to Brightman’s Lumber Crossing, Freetown, Mass.
MON Landscaping places erosion control measures along the rail line from Adams Lane, Berkley, Mass., to Brightman’s Lumber Crossing, Freetown, Mass. Skanska/D.W. White mines soil at the Weavers Cove Layover in Fall River, Mass. Skanska/D.W. White will perform the majority of work with the assistance of subcontractors to upgrade the right-of-way, including track, ties and ballast as well as building two new stations in Fall River, Mass., and Freetown, Mass., along with a layover facility in Fall River. Skanska/D.W. White performs driveway demolition at the Weavers Cove Layover in Fall River, Mass. Cooks Incorporated performed tree pruning operations along the rail line from Elm Street to High Street in Freetown, Mass.

Work has begun on the first phase of the South Coast Rail project that will construct two new railroad stations that will provide commuter access to Boston.

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority awarded contracts to a contracting team of Skanska, New York, N.Y., and D.W. White, Gainesville, Fla., for the $159 million project for work that began in July and is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2023.

Skanska/D.W. White will perform the majority of work with the assistance of subcontractors to upgrade the right-of-way, including track, ties and ballast, as well as building two new stations in Fall River, Mass., and Freetown, Mass., along with a layover facility in Fall River, according to Lisa Battison, an MBTA spokesperson.

Preliminary work is under way and includes brush clearing, installation of erosion controls and grading before major construction activities begin.

The project will support direct commuter rail services between Boston and communities that include Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River for the first time since the late 1950s and is part of an $8 billion five-year capital plan by MBTA to improve rail connections on its network.

MBTA chose Skanska because of its experience with track work and stations and D.W. White for its earthmoving experience, according to Battison. The companies won with a low bid that beat out five other contractors whose bids ranged from $163.9 million to $217.2 million.

The subcontractors on the job include Collins Overhead Doors, Everett, Mass.; Dagle Electric Company, Wilmington Mass.; MON Landscaping, North Dartmouth, Mass.; Rhode Island Rebar, Bristol, R.I.; and Cook Forest Products, Upton, Mass. VNB and HNTB, Rocky Hill, Conn., are the design firms on the job.

The two new stations in Freetown and Fall River will include space for passenger drop off with 107 spaces for parking in Freetown and 220 in Fall River with areas to park bicycles.

The project also involves the laying of 11.8 mi. of tracks and the building of eight railway bridges and 10 grade crossings that will be built along the Fall River Secondary that stretches from Fall River north to Berkley, Mass. The grade crossings will be upgraded with signals and gates. The contract also calls for the building of a layover facility for train storage in Fall River at Weaver's Cove, which includes six tracks where trains will be stored before beginning service daily and after ending service. The site will have a 1,800-sq.-ft. crew building and parking area for employees.

"This contract installs or repairs track infrastructure, train layover space, grade crossings, bridges, parking lots and stations," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. "It continues us on a path forward to beginning passenger train service in late 2023."

"This award is the news that the South Coast has been waiting to hear for a generation — Commuter Rail service to Boston is coming soon," said Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The Skanska/D.W. White project is the first of two major contracts that were awarded by MBTA for Boston regional rail service. The second is a $403.5 million project that was awarded to SCR Constructors (Middlesex/Tutor Perini) for the Middleborough Secondary and New Bedford Main Line.

After completion in 2023, this phase of the South Coast Rail construction package will link southeastern Massachusetts and Boston and offer travelers a one-seat trip to Boston from Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford in under 90 minutes. CEG