MBTA Red Line Gets Green Light for Sustainable Garage Rehabilitation
Edward V. DiSalvio
Rising fuel costs,a expanding growth in urban areas, and an ever-growing interest in sustainability have made public transit a very popular transportation choice.
Transit ridership in Boston, for instance, has increased almost 7% in the last decade, with about 250,000 people weekly using the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Red Line subway to travel to points between Boston and Cambridge, MA. These same riders depend on several parking lots to get to and from the stations.
Unfortunately, two of the largest parking garages, the Braintree and the Quincy Adams, constructed in 1978, no longer meet today’s standards for energy efficiency, accessibility and building code. As a result, the MBTA initiated a $40 million project to rehabilitate the two garages and repair a leaking pipeline at the North Quincy Red Line Station.
The challenge was to design and deliver improvements without any operational impacts to bus and train schedules and parking availability, requiring creative design and construction sequencing solutions.
Under the roof
Braintree Station Garage Quincy Adams Station Garage
460,500 sq. ft. 825,000 sq. ft
1,322 parking spaces 2,538 parking spaces
The MBTA engaged Kleinfelder, a global science, engineering and architecture consulting firm, to identify deficiencies in the existing parking garages, delineate the source of problems, and develop solutions to prevent the problems from recurring.
During a three-month comprehensive study, Kleinfelder found that the garages suffered from considerable water leakage due to failed waterproofing membranes, roof systems and joint sealants. The leakage was a major cause of the concrete structural members’ deterioration within the garages.
Additionally, the garage support systems such as electrical power, emergency power, plumbing, drainage, lighting, fire protection and mechanical systems needed replacement or upgrades to meet the MBTA’s goal of extending the structure’s useful life by 15 years. Many of these systems — such as the electrical infrastructure — were also significantly damaged due to water infiltration.
Light, space and safety
Kleinfelder first addressed the need to upgrade the out-of-date and damaged equipment with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, code-compliant systems. Second, the engineers designed four new machine-room-less (MRL) elevators to provide access to the Braintree parking garage and rail station.
The MRLs eliminated the need for traditional machine equipment rooms to store large machines, motors and hydraulic pumps. These gearless systems store all elevator support equipment within the hoistway. The use of these machines saved 200 square feet and saved a lot of construction dollars. The MRL’s smaller footprints and more efficient motors also require 75% less energy than traditional elevators.
To further drive down costs and improve energy efficiency, Kleinfelder designed enhanced safety through state-of-the-art security features and lighting.
The original garage lighting levels were low and significantly below code-required standards. To achieve current code-required lighting levels at the Quincy Adams Parking Garage, electrical engineers developed a lighting system that relies on a combination of energy-efficient fluorescent lighting and LED lights to address the need to increase the lighting level in the garage, eliminating dark areas and enhancing security and comfort levels.
A new electrical power system and emergency power system were designed for the Quincy Adams Garage to further improve overall energy efficiency.
New closed-circuit television security camera systems were designed to provide security at both Braintree and Quincy Adams Parking garages. The CCTV systems will be tied back to the MBTA’s central monitoring station, providing coordination with existing security systems.
The lifespan of both garages will be extended significantly by making improvements to electrical power, emergency power, plumbing, drainage, fire protection, mechanical systems, roof systems, structural members and failed joint sealants.
The study also evaluated the repair of a leaking pipeline that services the North Quincy Red Line station, located under the tracks within the railroad right-of-way. Since any repairs could potentially interfere with railroad operations, Kleinfelder recommended running the pipeline above the right-of-way, over the tracks, through a parking lot and a portion of the busway, and using a modern pump chamber and new force main connecting to the nearby city sewer system.
The final challenge to the design team was to stage the renovations of the parking garages and repairs with minimal disruption to public parking and no disruption to train and bus service.
Phased change, minimal interruption
The Kleinfelder design team developed a carefully phased construction plan to perform all the work within the garages and repair the pipeline.
Part of the solution involves shifting some parking from one garage to the other to allow the contractor free rein in the freed-up areas, which could be in excess of 50,000 square feet. Once construction is completed in a specific garage area, it will be reopened while crews and equipment move to the next area to begin work.
Construction on the second garage will not begin until the first garage rehabilitation is complete. Crews will construct the pipeline during overnight work shifts and then reopen the busway during station operation hours.
Currently, the MBTA plans to advertise the garage renovation project in spring 2013.
Edward V. DiSalvio, P.E., is a Project Manager and Principal Structural Engineer with Kleinfelder. He can be reached at EDiSalvio@kleinfelder.com.
Article Abstract from December, 2012