Government Center station reopening March 26th



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We were right.. we said before Marathon Monday!


It only seemed reasonable that they would want it up and running for the runners who wanted up.

It will be substantially

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It will be substantially complete. I doubt they will have a vendor(s) lined up and put in place by the open date. But the escalators will be powered up and platforms open.


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Switch problems, lol.


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In two years and five days, with two active rail lines running nearly the entire time (there have been, what, a handful of minor evening shutdowns?), they've completely gutted and rebuilt a station, including all new ADA vertical circulation, a fancy new headhouse, and entirely new systems.

Price tag? $82m. This is relatively expensive, compared to other countries, but about in line for what the T spends on these things.

This is 1/37th of the cost of the Green Line Extension, which has seven stations. Yes, I know there is stuff between the stations, like trackwork and systems and such, but it certainly seems like someone is being swindled with GLX, but we knew that. It seems that when the T puts its mind to actually procuring something decent, it can get something halfway decent.

Two years?

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I realize renovations are sometimes more difficult than building from scratch - and perhaps this is good by T standards. By any other standard it's ridiculous. Not sure how many square feet of public space we are talking - but if this were a private project it would have cost about half as much and taken half the time.

Think about it- most of the condo towers that go up take about two years to build and cost what - maybe $500-$700 per sf all in? And that's with granite and kitchens and baths and massive elevators and carpeting. This is just a giant room of concrete and tile - probably doesn't even have a public bathroom and it costs as much as building about 100-120 luxury apartments?

please tell me

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Please tell me any private construction project that had to coordinate construction around around two train lines around it? Also list any private construction project that took almost entirely underground while you're at it.

Yeah none! Your comparison to private construction is /dev/null because no other private project can compare at all. Plus you're comparing NEW construction to essentially a remodel... You can't do that. If I have a blank lot (or a building that is getting torn down entirely), it's an entirely different story on how fast construction can take place. High rises aren't an accurate comparison.

Apples vs Oranges

PS - There's a ton more to what was built than what you see in the station. A lot more. Read up. An entirely new electrical substation was built along with new egress and a few other 'behind the walls' additions.

do the analysis

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How many square feet? Multiply that by a cost per sf. Then add the cost of a substation. I dont see ANY reasonable number coming to $82 million. They build entire apartment and office complexes over train stations in just two years including digging a hole for the foundation .

I repeat. I don't see a private project like this costing half as much or taking half as long.

Not buying this

Sorry, but you need to have something comparable to be comparable. A "standard construction on a square foot basis" is NOT comparable. "Digging a foundation" is also NOT comparable to having to do delicate demolition and reconstruction underground in one of the oldest parts of the city, around and under the city while the trains continued to run and utilities were relocated or left undisturbed.

"Doing an analysis" is useless if your assumptions are fundamentally flawed.

They didn't even dig

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At least for the most part.

What makes you think this was a remotely efficient operation? Five words. It's run by the T. Private project = half the time and a fraction the cost.

Granted, they must be getting better. It took 4 years to build the glass whale in Kenmore.

there you go

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$614 per sf and 2.5 years for boutuque hotel rooms covering 135000 sf. Plus probably all new systems AND an exterior. (And keep in mind this is the "marketing" number. Huge incentive to inflate that number. Plus nobody will check.)

A subway station is basically the ballroom of a hotel covered in tile. Plus the substation.

Again. What leads anyone to think this was an efficient job? It's the T.

waiting for an example

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For someone touting efficiency, you've sure spouted a ton of words saying the same thing, without offering a privately built project comparable to the Government Center rebuild.

So until you can tell us about such a privately financed underground construction project with four adjacent tracks active some 20 hours a day, perhaps just give it up?

You're still

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But you're still comparing a train station to a high rise or hotel. Sorry, you can't do that. They are not even comparable.

Still waiting for examples of identical projects from you.....

tell us

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Also, since you're the expert on subway construction, how long should the project have taken and what should the price have been? Please, some exact numbers.

That's What I'M asking for

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Somebody do an analysis and justify this cost.

The substation is a huge variable. Could be $10 million, could be $50 million. No idea.

The rest of it is mostly cosmetic. If you're telling me you spend $2000 per sf on ceramic tile and handicap ramps - I'm not buying it.

Again - their track record is HORRIBLE. Why is this project any different. I don't know - but it seems like one hell of a lot of money to redecorate one or two oversized rooms (is there at least a public bathroom - now THAT would be worth $82 million to a lot of our out of town visitors). I've seen entire buildings go up in less time.

And this is NOT a major infrastructure project. The GLX (over budget) and OLX (no money)are infrastructure projects. The Greenbush line (might make the Big Dig look cheap) was an infrastructure project. Railcar access to Southie (no money) is an infrastructure project.

This is periodic maintenance (long overdue) on an existing train station.

You're wrong.

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You're wrong.

This was a lot more than slapping on some new tiles and cleaning the joint up.

This sure looks like a small cosmetic project to me.


It's sure easy to be a construction engineer and manager on the Internet.


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This sure sounds like your run-of-the-mill ballroom maintenance to me.

One of the challenges faced by engineers is the fact that the two stations do not align in a way that permits direct elevator access from the Blue Line to the surface. The Blue Line platform is actually located below Cambridge Street, requiring the Project to construct two sets of elevators: one set from Blue to Green and the second set from Green to the surface.

In addition, the entire Green Line platform must be raised eight inches to provide accessible boarding on the low-floor Green Line cars. This requirement means that everything that touches the platform, including all of the stairs, escalators, and walls, must be either modified or replaced.

On the Blue Line level of the Station, the elevators can be located in only one place that aligns with the Green Line station above. That location happens to be at the bottom of the main stairs between the two levels, therefore requiring complete demolition and reconstruction of the stairs.

The project will also replace the electrical substation to be able to run the elevators and other new equipment, as well as provide upgrades to lighting, communications, and safety systems.


It's astounding that this could not have been wrapped up in a few months. I mean, I had my basement finished for under $30,000 and it took all of three weeks.

Seriously, MBTA?

Still not close

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Now you're telling me that substation just runs the station? Not even anything to do with the trains? Little more than oversized batteries.

Oohh - double one story elevators and a new staircase - now there's a good $15 million right there.

Look a the scope of work - stairs, elevators, escalators, electrical, platform and substation - we paid almost $15 million a piece for each of those.

Sorry - once again T riders got fleeced and people out here are defending it unless those stairs are made of gold.

And instead of fixing all these problems - they just engineered around them so in 50-75 years we'll just do this all over again. Lovely.

Exactly - seriously MBTA - $15 million for stairs? No wonder you can't afford snow plows.

they just engineered around

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they just engineered around them so in 50-75 years we'll just do this all over again. Lovely.

50 to 75 years is a pretty good life span for something that will see such heavy use.


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And instead of fixing all these problems - they just engineered around them so in 50-75 years we'll just do this all over again. Lovely.

What are you even talking about? The station has been completely rebuilt in place. What "problems" have been "engineered around"?

The alignment

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They had to build 2 elevators to accommodate the structure. Handicapped individuals have to take one to one floor and one to another surface. Why not excavate, do what's necessary to build a single shaft? They moved one staircase to accommodate the second shaft - you're telling me that was cheaper/more feasible to move a staircase AND build two elevators (doesn't explain $82 million - but elevators cost huge money - two one story elevators certainly cost WAY more than double a single two-story one) than build a hallway that leads to a single elevator?

Again, again, again -these guys can't tie their shoelaces for less than $1 million - why is anyone defending them?


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Why not excavate, do what's necessary to build a single shaft?

Did you not read the T's project page? The two platforms don't align, which jibes with my recollection of the stairs and corridor between the Green and Blue levels. You didn't just walk down a set of stairs and appear at the other platform.

See for a more geeky discussion.

You're advocating for a complete realignment of either the Blue or Green line tracks so that one elevator could bring riders from the Blue Line to the street.

But then you'd be whining how the project cost $150 million and how both the Blue and Green lines were completely taken out of service to allow for such excavation and realignment.

Like I said, Internet engineering and construction management degrees are pretty cheap these days.

Since you're so knowledgeable, care to post your blueprints of how you would have designed the station?


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Right after you itemize why this cost $82 million and took 2 years.

If there's a reasonable answer - I'm willing to listen. The only thing anyone's posted is "You're wrong because ummm, ummm, you're wrong." Prove me wrong which is what I've been asking all along. Perfectly willing to listen to a reasonable answer - I just don't think there is one.

Again - the T has a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG history of spending way too much for getting way too little in virtually everything it does. What makes you think this is any different?

As for the elevator/station design - looks like the platform alignment is fine. The problem is that where they align encroaches on Cambridge Street. Maybe it can't be corrected, but my guess is that if they could have worked with another agency somebody could have figured out how to do this with a single elevator without breaking the bank. May have meant you slightly narrow the feed onto Cambridge Street from State - but that would probably be an improvement for many reasons.

Did actually see that

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Very happy that the T has discovered the modern marvel that is interior plumbing. I'm sure this will make many Freedom Trail walkers happy as well.


It's Just One Tiny Bathroom — It Will Be Either Locked Or Filthy

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A single toilet can't possibly accommodate the volume of passengers that must transfer and wait for trains at such a major station.

Considering it's also at the center of a major tourist entertainment area and gateway to a plaza that draws large public crowds, it's thoughtless not to include adequate facilities in the plan.

Undoubtedly, the Scollay Under platform will retain its historic smell.


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it's thoughtless not to include adequate facilities in the plan.

The T is to provide transit, not a bathroom. It's for employee and customer convenience, that's all. It's not meant to be a public restroom.

Otherwise if we did, we'd have Stevil and roadman complain that it costs too much to build and was unnecessary.

same reason

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As I stated above.. Customer Convenience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Apples and oranges

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By design, airports intentionally have large numbers of people waiting for long periods of time.

Come to think of it , ......


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Are you "in the know", do you know project managers or people on the design team at the T?

Yeah I didn't think so. So everything you say is hearsay and in your opinion. No real facts to back up what you're saying. I'm still waiting for examples of comparable projects...

You're complaining that this project costs too much, and now you're saying "Well why didn't they do x, y, and z". I'll give you one hint why they didn't.... you're complaining about it.

Keep talking Stevil.. that hole you are digging keeps getting deeper
and deeper
and deeper
and deeper
and deeper....

I can think of very few

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I can think of very few underground subway stations that manage with one elevator. The only one that comes to mind is Harvard (and they recently added a second elevator there for redundancy).

To do it all with one elevator, you either need:
1) fare collection at street level, and all the platforms lined up at one point directly underneath that, or
2) an elevator down to a fare collection mezzanine, which then has stair-free walkways or ramps to every platform

This is very difficult to arrange, especially for transfer stations like Government Center.

In fact, the interior retail

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In fact, the interior retail build outs are still incomplete.

Which doesn't exactly qualify the project as complete, now does it.

What would a couple of elevators and some ramps have cost?

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Less than $80 million and wouldn't have required inconveniencing thousands of people almost every day for two years. Every time I hear about the money the T doesn't have I'm going to picture a headhouse three times higher and four times longer than was needed and I'll be skeptical. What a waste.

see above

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See Above.

There's alot more to GC station than the headhouse, elevators, and escalators being put in... More than what the general public will see from within the station walls.

I agree...

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But there is stuff people can see, like raising the entire platform for disabled access to the cars, increasing the number of turnstiles because there were not enough before, and replacing the lighting, which was very poor.

OK, fine

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but then why the enormous (and hideous) headhouse? Surely that could have been built a lot smaller (and less hideous) for a lot less money. What's the justification for an order of magnitude greater volume than necessary for its function?

Prove It

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Prove that it would cost less.

I'm not repeating what I've said before about the head house.. not worth the data bits..

Beware the Ides of March

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Frank's doing a great job so don't blame him when Graffiti vandals strike before April Fools day and ruin the new station

The real reason it cost 80m and took two years

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isn't necessarily because the T was crooked and incompetent this time around.

But I'm willing to wager a small amount that it could've been done a bit faster and a bit cheaper if there had been a little less unprofessionalism earlier back when the stations were first built or rebuilt.

Having been in charge of "rebuilding" a place, only to find that there's no as-built architectural drawings, equipment blueprints, or anyone around who knew how the place was put together the first go-around, I absolutely believe that some of that time and cost was just necessary to shut the place down, dig it all up, and figure out what was where.

No way around that now that it's done, but maybe this time there's a little more configuration control and documentation so that in 80 years or so, there's a little less of a cost and time barrier to overcome when rebuilding it then.

New commercial developments tend to not have these issues because they tend to be able to start from zero, more or less.

while I don't

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While I don't really want to fuel the fire on this debate, I will say this.

Scollay Square station was remodeled in 1963 into Government Center. I'd like to think architectural drawings were done up for that remodel, so they knew for the most part.

Even still lots of track maps and station layouts do exist (even for ones built long before 1963).. many are online now and Ward Maps has plenty of plates also.

But I do agree, that there's alot of unknowns that can happen during construction.. just little things that can pop up to add to to the cost. I'm not saying this is all of why it costs as much as it does, but it can certainly add to it. (as said by someone who is finishing up an office construction project and very soon moving an office.. so I know what can pop up or was over looked at last minute!)