Metro

Major contractor on Green Line extension removed from project

Boston, MA - 10/30/2016 - Passengers board an MBTA Greene Line train at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Harvard Street in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, MA, October 30, 2016. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/File

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s long-delayed Green Line extension through Somerville has run into another speed bump, as a company hired just three months ago to oversee construction has been removed from the project.

But state officials insist that the change will not impact the project’s schedule.

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The T terminated its contract with engineering firm CH2M Hill Cos. earlier this month. The Colorado company had been awarded a $57 million deal in May, the largest contract related to the $2.3 billion project since it was put on hold and restructured after officials uncovered major cost overruns in 2015.

The decision was not related to CH2M’s performance, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. Rather, the decision is rooted in an out-of-state corporate takeover and the potential for a conflict of interest.

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As construction manager, CH2M would oversee the contractor hired to build the 4.7-mile extension, a job that could run as high as $1.3 billion. In August, one of the companies in the bidding for that bigger contract, Jacobs Engineering Group, agreed to acquire CH2M, which would make it inappropriate for CH2M to remain in the supervisory role, Pesaturo said.

“To avoid the potential for a conflict of interest, the contract with CH2M was terminated,” Pesaturo said. “CH2M understood why this action needed to be taken.”

Jacobs referred questions to CH2M, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jacobs has joined with Walsh Construction Co., Barletta Heavy Division, and Granite Construction to form one of three teams bidding for the build-out, with proposals due in September.

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Pesaturo said the T is in negotiations with the runner-up for the construction oversight contract, a firm called HAKS Engineering, to take over the role. He declined to discuss details of those negotiations, but said the agency will seek board approval for the new contract in September.

Pesaturo said T management “is confident that this contractor change will have absolutely no impact on the overall” schedule.

HAKS could not be reached for comment.

Pesaturo said the T is following Federal Transit Administration guidelines by returning to the runner-up.

The project would extend the Green Line from its current terminus at Lechmere through Somerville and Medford, with a spur to Union Square. It would feature six new stops and is scheduled for completion in 2021.

It has had a turbulent history, but appeared to be on solid footing in 2014, when the federal government agreed to provide $1 billion for the project, then budgeted at $2 billion. Then, two years ago, the T revealed that costs had escalated in part due to poor oversight of contractors, with the price tag ballooning to as much as $3 billion.

The Baker administration then put the project on hold, and imposed a series of changes that included firing contractors, downsizing some of the proposed stations, and eliminating some amenities to get cost estimates closer to $2.3 billion. Earlier this year, the project received its first injection of federal funding.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamtvaccaro.
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