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MBTA approves US $403.5m contract for South Coast Rail Main Line construction in US

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)’s Fiscal and Management Control Board has approved a US $403.5m contract with SCR Constructors, a joint venture of The Middlesex Corporation and Tutor Perini, to build the New Bedford Main Line, upgrade the Middleborough Secondary Line, and build the Phase 1 signal and communication system. This is the second and larger of 2 major construction packages of South Coast Rail Main Line Phase 1.

When complete in late 2023, Phase 1 will connect southeastern Massachusetts and Boston, providing riders with a 1-seat trip from Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford to Boston in less than 90 minutes. Since the Phase 1 groundbreaking in July 2019, South Coast Rail has invested US $688.6m on construction work, real estate acquisitions, and vehicle procurement. Early action projects will be completed by the end of 2020 as the major projects start construction.

The first South Coast Rail Main Line Phase 1 major construction package was awarded in May 2020 for US $159m to Skanska DW White JV with work including the building of brand new stations in Freetown and Fall River, construction of an all-new Weaver’s Cove layover facility, and work on 12 miles of track, 8 railroad bridges, 10 grade crossings, 10 culverts, and additional systems and infrastructure. This contract award is another major milestone as the project continues to advance. Skanska DW White JV received Notice to Proceed on the Fall River Secondary contract and construction is expected to begin in the fall.

According to Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, this second major South Coast Rail contract award for Phase 1 capital construction reaffirms the Baker-Polito Administration’s strong commitment to establishing and running passenger train service between the South Coast and Boston by the end of the year in 2023. “This contract helps realize the dream of train service between Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, and Boston, and will lead to track upgrades, the creation of train layover space, the installation of signal systems, and four new stations,” he said.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said that this contract is the second major step taken this year to advance the critically important South Coast Rail. “Building upon the early-action progress made by MassDOT, this contract award means the construction of brand new and fully accessible stations in East Taunton, Middleborough, and 2 in New Bedford, a brand new layover facility in New Bedford, and important work on signal and communications systems. We’re excited to complete this Phase 1 work that will establish a 1-seat ride for passengers from Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford to Boston in late 2023,” he said.

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Scope of work

The contractor will build 2 new Commuter Rail stations in New Bedford (1 on the north end on Church Street and 1 downtown) as well as stations in East Taunton and Middleborough. The new stations will feature accessible high-level side platforms, a drop-off area, and bicycle parking. All stations include designated accessible parking and parking for electric vehicles. The station on Church Street in New Bedford will include 355 parking spaces with 352 at the New Bedford station adjacent to Route 18, which will also feature a pedestrian bridge connection to downtown as part of a future construction contract. The East Taunton station includes a high-level, center-island platform and 363 parking spaces. The new Middleborough Station will be opposite the Route 495 ramp for easy access and will include 500 parking spaces.

The contract package also includes a layover facility for train storage in New Bedford at Whale’s Tooth, adjacent to an existing rail storage area. It will have 6 tracks where trains will be stored before beginning service daily and after ending service. The secure site will also have an 1,800-square-foot crew building and parking areas for employees.

This contract also includes work on 24 miles of track, 12 interlockings, 11 culverts and additional systems and infrastructure. The project includes the installation of new rail, ballast, and sub ballast; raising the track in some locations; and installing ballast vibration mitigation. Retaining walls will be constructed as required.

The MBTA has obtained all required permits to begin construction, which is expected to take 37 months and begin this fall.

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