FMCB approves $159-million contract for MBTA’s South Coast Rail Main Line construction

May 12, 2020
Work includes building new stations in Freetown and Fall River, construction of a new Weaver’s Cove layover facility and more.

A nearly $159-million contract has been approved by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Fiscal and Management Control Board, allowing Skanska DW White JV to build the Fall River Secondary, the first major construction package of South Coast Rail Phase 1.

When complete in fall 2023, Phase 1 will connect southeastern Massachusetts and Boston, providing riders with a one-seat trip from Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford to Boston in less than 90 minutes.

Since the groundbreaking in July 2019, South Coast Rail has spent close to $100 million on construction work, real estate acquisitions, vehicle procurement and related design and contract management/administration. This contract award is another major milestone as the project continues to move forward in earnest.

“The awarding of this contract makes it abundantly clear to everyone that we are going to be running passenger train service in the near future between the South Coast and Boston,” said Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “This contract installs or repairs track infrastructure, train layover space, grade crossings, bridges, parking lots and stations. This contract continues us on a path forward to beginning passenger train service in late 2023.”

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak added, “This award by the FMCB is a major step forward for South Coast Rail as we continue to build upon the foundation MassDOT provided for this project. This contract award means two brand new, accessible stations built in Freetown and Fall River, a brand-new layover facility with six storage tracks, and key infrastructure work on rail bridges, grade crossings and a dozen miles of track. We’re excited to complete this work, establishing commuter rail passenger service to Southeastern Massachusetts and bringing a one-seat ride from Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford to Boston in late 2023.”

The contractor will build two new commuter rail stations in Freetown and Fall River. The new Freetown Station and Fall River Depot Station will both include accessible high-level side platforms and feature additional amenities that include a drop-off area and bicycle parking. Including designated accessible parking and parking for electric vehicles, Freetown will also feature 107 parking spaces with 220 parking spaces at Fall River Depot. Fall River will also include a bus drop-off area on North Main Street.

The contract package also includes a layover facility for train storage in Fall River at Weaver’s Cove, which features six 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.

The Fall River Secondary contract also includes work on 12 miles of track, eight railroad bridges, one under-grade bridge, 10 grade crossings, six interlockings, 10 culverts and additional systems 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 railroad bridges are in Lakeville, Freetown and Fall River.

The MBTA says it has obtained all required permits to begin construction, which is expected to take 30 months and begin this summer. The total contract amount awarded to Skanska DW White JV was $158.975 million

New Bedford/Middleborough Line and additional work

Work on the New Bedford/Middleborough Line is also moving forward. The contract to perform major construction on this line was advertised in early May 2020 with bids to be opened on June 25, 2020, and a contract value range up to $400 million. This contract includes the construction of four new stations (Middleborough, East Taunton, Church Street [formerly North New Bedford] and New Bedford Stations) and a brand new layover facility in New Bedford as well as work on more than 24 miles of track, six overhead bridges, one under-grade bridge, grade crossings, 12 interlockings, 11 culverts and additional systems and infrastructure. Once awarded with a project start date scheduled, this work is anticipated to be accomplished in 39 months.

MassDOT has also accomplished more than $18 million in early-action work on 46 culverts, which is anticipated to be completed in June 2020, and more than $26 million in early-action work on four bridges, which is expected to be complete in November 2020.