The Boston Harbor Project

framing a world-class project

In 1986, a US federal court ordered the City of Boston (MA) to clean Boston Harbor, an order that led to the forming of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Since then, this agency has helped clean up the harbor and remedy its pollution problem by developing and overseeing a plan that has involved the design and construction ofnew wastewater facilities, an effort that is contributing to the region's effort to rehabilitate its infrastructure. This article examines the effort to build the new facilities and clean Boston Harbor, an ongoing 11-year effort that is using project management principles and practices to reach milestones and meet stakeholder expectations. In doing so, it overviews the port's history and this project's evolution, noting the main concerns facing the MWRA at project inception and the anti-pollution legislation that led to the court's order to clean Boston Harbor. It identifies the project's key milestones and describes the MWRA's management structure, identifying the main project participants, noting the benefits of using a construction management approach, and explaining the key repsonsibilities of the contractors. It also defines the management team's primary goal in relation to managing this effort, listing the five factors that the team identified as crucial for achieving success. It then outlines the management team's processes for managing this effort, examining its techniques for controlling overall cost as well as design costs, procurement costs, contractor costs, and change orders. It looks at the management team's process for quality control and phase transitions; it details the project's six primary construction challenges and five success factors. It reports the ongoing challenges the team must confront and the work it must complete to close the project out by July 1994. Accompanying this article are two sidebars: The first describes how the MWRA formulated its labor relations policy, which enabled it to both establish the project's safety program and attract reliable and qualified project labor; the second notes how the management team benefitted from using an Artemis-based, data management system known as KEMS to manage the project's US$2 billion in construction projects, more than 100 work packages, and dozens of contractors and nearly 2,000 workers.
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