Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), commonly known as the “T,” oversees the oldest and one of the largest transit systems in the United States. Its system is also one of only two in the country to operate all five major types of mass transit vehicles—light rail vehicles, rapid transit trains, regional rail trains, electric trolleybuses, and motor buses. Since the 1980s, SGH has worked with MBTA to provide customized solutions, often on a condensed timetable. When the T needs to quickly mitigate problems to keep their system safe and operable, our accurate and expedited services are a key to project success.
Critical care in Charlestown
With nearly 300 subway and commuter rail stations and more than 8,000 bus stops throughout eastern Massachusetts, maintenance and operations centers are crucial to keeping the system running smoothly. The Charlestown Bus Facility is located along the Mystic River and is protected by a 1,200 ft seawall. With the existing steel sheet pile seawall deteriorating and threatening operations, SGH collaborated with the MBTA and other project stakeholders to develop a rehabilitation and improvement plan for the wall and surrounding area.
The team extended and enhanced the facility’s useful life with a durable stone embankment and revetment wall and an adaptive design that accounts for future sea level rise. SGH designed the shoreline stabilization and our subconsulting team designed the new drainage systems and bioengineered portion of the slope. The solution, completed in 2022, also includes a paved multi-use path—connecting several Boston-area communities and creating a space for the public to enjoy.
Just down the street and a few years earlier, busy Sullivan Square Station was experiencing spalled concrete falling from its canopies. Posing a potential safety hazard, this issue needed urgent attention. SGH performed an emergency inspection to determine if there was an immediate risk. We then investigated the condition of the concrete platforms and canopies and designed repairs. The work was executed almost exclusively outside of rail service hours to mitigate disruption to Orange Line service.
Evaluating the options
Sometimes our work doesn’t require a timely solution, but rather our ability to evaluate options and guide the MBTA toward the solution that will best meet their objectives. In 2021, SGH completed work as the prime consultant for the Iron Horse Park Operations Control Center in Billerica, Massachusetts. Our work began with evaluating the useful life of an existing 1913 powerhouse structure and working with the MBTA to compare options for renovating or replacing the building. The MBTA opted to build a new facility and retained SGH to provide structural, civil, and building enclosure engineering design services for the new building while overseeing the work of many other consultants. The design needed to consider special site conditions, including the center’s location on a Superfund site and its liquefiable soils, uncommon for New England and requiring careful attention to ensure pile stability during a seismic event. We also assessed the site’s flood risks and developed a resilient flood design.
Keeping the “T” on track
With an extensive portfolio, the MBTA has a lot to consider—maintaining existing assets and constructing new buildings and infrastructure—all while ensuring passenger service, safety, and usability. SGH employs multidisciplinary experience and works dynamically to address the MBTA’s most pressing issues. Our goal is to be a partner in the process, tackling each challenge as it comes with customized and responsive solutions to help keep the system running for its thousands of daily riders.