Seeking clues on rebid of Quincy bus garage contract
Fiber optic revamp pushed bid process back a year
THE MBTA says its decision to reject the bids for construction of a new Quincy bus and maintenance garage because they came in much higher than expected is only the second time that has happened in the last four years.
The other time came last year, when a contract for the installation of new fiber optic cable along the entire commuter rail line was tossed because the lowest bid was $85 million higher than expected. That contract is now out to bid again, but scaled back significantly.
The fiber optic contract may provide some clues as to how quickly the T can revamp and rebid the Quincy garage contract, which is key to kickstarting the T’s shift toward electric buses.
Overall, the T said, only two of the transit authority’s 49 bid processes over the last four years have been halted because of higher-than-expected bids.
The MBTA had estimated the contract would cost $75 million.
The bid process was canceled and the project was changed substantially. Instead of laying a fiber optic cable along the length of the entire commuter rail system, roughly 240 miles in all, the new contract calls for laying the line along the Lowell and Fitchburg lines, a total of 80 miles.
Bids on the new contract are scheduled to be opened in October, more than a year after the bids on the original project were opened.
The bids for the Quincy bus garage and maintenance facility were opened on May 12. There were two bidders – one at $359.7 million and the other at $359.8 million.
Both of the bids were $79 million more than the $280 million the T had estimated, prompting the T to reject both of them.“The MBTA is committed to advancing this project and is currently evaluating the scope and options to bring the cost down without impacting the core functionality of the building,” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said when CommonWealth first reported the bid rejections. “The MBTA is also evaluating alternative delivery methods for re-procurement with a goal of minimizing any delay in the project schedule.”
The T’s embrace of bus electrification is contingent on the buildout of garages where the vehicles can be charged and stored. The Quincy garage was on track to open in 2024. It is unclear whether the rebidding of the facility’s construction will throw that timeline off.