To foster and bolster college student interest and enthusiasm in the world of heavy civil engineering design and construction pertaining to rebuilding and expanding our infrastructure, the Construction Industries of Massachusetts-Labor Relations Division (CIM-LRD) is sponsoring a design competition for student groups from New England universities with civil engineering and construction management programs. Many buildings have been erected in Boston in the past 10+ years, and each has a certain degree of construction specific design needed to get the building built. However, in building major infrastructure, the degree of construction design necessary to achieve the erection of the final system and structures often far exceeds that needed for a building. For students, such construction design thinking and planning require them to think way outside of the box of design methods that they typically learn in the undergraduate civil engineering or construction management classroom.
The civil engineering infrastructure design competition requires student teams to design two subway stations for a possible western extension of the MBTA Blue Line subway in Boston, one at the existing Park Street station (beneath the Red Line platform); and the other a new station below Newbury Street just beyond Dartmouth Street in Boston’s Back Bay, see schematic illustrations of each below.
To provide the Red Line/Blue Line connection required as environmental mitigation for the state building the Big Dig decades ago, the current MBTA plan is to extend the Blue Line from Bowdoin Station, beneath Cambridge Street to the Charles/MGH Station. However, the Blue Line in Boston could also greatly reduce Green Line congestion if it were instead extended beneath Beacon Hill from Government Center to intersect the Red Line at Park Street Station and then be further extended beneath Back Bay under Newbury Street. But wait, there’s more that such an extended Blue Line could do! For instance, it could be used to replace the D-trolley to Riverside, thus eliminating one of the 4 trolley lines in the Central Subway tunnel beneath Boylston Street.
The Blue Line could also be bifurcated beneath the Mass Pike between Mass. Ave. and Brookline Ave. with the second branch proceeding west to the planned Allston Landing development and further to Watertown Arsenal Yards. Such a westward extension would provide opportunity for a commuter rail link at Boston Landing next to New Balance at Everett Street, where a large parking garage could be built above the Turnpike. The thought is that people driving in from the west on the Mass. Pike would rather park in this garage than hassle with the traffic getting to and from the airport Central Parking.
Within such context, the CIM student competition is focused on these two station construction projects, both of which are in the midst of dense urban locales. Each is similar in complexity and magnitude to prior MBTA station modernization projects in the heart of Boston over the past several decades. The goal is to plan the construction of the two stations, and make a design for each in a bit more than a schematic sense. Thus, the design submittal should be to a 15% to 20% design level, showing the station spaces arrangements and structural member types, sizes and materials of the civil engineering structures and systems needed.
The students’ design of each station will be for both the final structures, but more importantly will also be for the intermediate stages of construction needed to finally accomplish the final station constructions. In this competition, the focus will be on four inter-related elements present in every heavy civil infra-structure project, namely the design, construction, pricing and schedule. All four of these elements must be in the competition submission. Written submittals are due by 15 April and presentations will be on 22 April 2023.
Figure 1. Cross-section of subsurface conditions of Newbury Street
tunnels at Dartmouth Street for Blue Line Western Extension
Figure 2. Schematic of proposed Blue Line station position below Red Line at Park Street station
Figure 3. Proposed alignment for Blue Line Extension
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