The $11.4 billion Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) Project involves constructing a new tunnel across Boston Harbor, placing the Central Artery underground, and constructing a new Charles River crossing. The Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) has had the responsibility for overseeing the Project for the Commonwealth. In 1985, MassHighway hired the joint venture of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas (B/PB) to manage the design and construction of the CA/T Project.

This report focuses on the CA/T Project's materials testing laboratory and the potential for future cost savings. The laboratory helps B/PB to ensure that construction materials such as concrete and reinforcing steel meet CA/T Project specifications. The laboratory opened in 1991 and taxpayers have already paid more than $26 million for B/PB to design, construct, operate, and maintain the facility. This Office estimates that the laboratory will cost an additional $26 million between now and the scheduled completion of the Project in 2004. This Office's review disclosed the following:

Finding One: Project management did not adequately assess the options before spending millions of dollars to establish and maintain a materials testing laboratory.

Finding Two: MassHighway violated state law by allowing B/PB to give more than $621,000 worth of no-bid Harding Building renovation work to Bechtel Construction Company.

Finding Three: MassHighway violated state law by not obtaining Division of Capital Planning and Operations (DCPO) certification to renovate the Harding and D Street buildings.

Project missteps should not and could not be cured through a violation of state bidding law. MassHighway violated state law and is also responsible for any extra costs borne by the taxpayers as a result of avoiding the competitive bid process. Furthermore, by failing to comply with the public bidding law, MassHighway deprived the public of the benefits of open competition and market forces that may have driven costs down. This Office urges Project management to comply with all applicable state laws and regulations. In addition, this Office concludes that at least $5 million has been spent unnecessarily for design and renovation work, relocation expenses and fees paid to B/PB as a consequence of poor planning.

This Office concludes that it is in the Commonwealth's best interests for Project management to include the CA/T Project laboratory operations in cost containment initiatives at this point in the Project. Cost savings may result from transferring certain CA/T laboratory functions to MassHighway's already existing statewide materials testing laboratory, using outside laboratory services, or some combination of the two.

Once the Project is completed, maintaining the new facility will require materials testing as well. B/PB will no longer be supplying these services after 2004. In order to reduce reliance on B/PB now and develop expertise for use after Project completion, public employees should now begin to assume the laboratory functions. Over time, this expertise will benefit all highway projects across the state as well as the CA/T Project.