High Bid Price Comes at a Cost:Grand Entrance, Public Art Cut out of Phase II

July 20, 2011
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Two significant aesthetic pieces to the new Wonderland Station redevelopment project have been eliminated due to a bid by Suffolk Construction that came in much higher than anticipated.

Though Suffolk wasn’t the lowest bidder on the project, apparently, they were chosen because their preliminary proposal was far superior to that of the other bidders.

However, their bid was much higher than the $20 million project ceiling.

In order to get the project going, Mayor Tom Ambrosino and a spokesperson for the MBTA acknowledged that a grand entrance to the public plaza from North Shore Road has been eliminated.

Also, a public art project has also been taken out of a landscaped area on Ocean Avenue.

Several other “value engineering” changes have also been made, but they are not as substantial.

“The grand entryway from the highway side was eliminated, which was a nice aesthetic piece,” said the mayor. “Someday we’ll get that back in the project. To access the Beach now, one will have to go through the station. It’s not quite as grand, but functionally it works. It was a luxury we couldn’t afford. I think it will ultimately be put back in, but not as part of this project.”

A spokesperson for the MBTA confirmed the same and added that the public art project would also be scrapped.

“It is true that the Suffolk cost proposal came in over budget,” said Lydia Rivera of the T. “The Authority recently completed contract negotiations with Suffolk during which many value engineering items were discussed. We have been able to meet the construction budget goal and the contract is being finalized. The stair and elevator on the North Shore Road (West) side of the project has been eliminated. A granite fish sculpture on the landscaped park adjacent to Ocean Avenue has also been eliminated. The balance of value engineering items could be considered as incremental cost savings.”

The grand stairway entrance on North Shore Road was one of the key points of the public project, allowing complete unobstructed viewing and pedestrian access to the Beach for the first time in generations.

The stair and escalator climbed to the public plaza, which is still in the project and will sit atop the current Ocean Avenue parking lot. That plaza emptied out into a beautiful cable-stayed pedestrian bridge – which is also still in the project.

However, those coming to the Beach from North Shore Road or from the new parking garage will still have to traverse through the station to get there – as is now the case.

Ambrosino said it was a disappointing turn of events, but one that had to happen to get construction going.

Because it is funded primarily with federal Stimulus dollars, the public plaza portion of the Wonderland development must be “substantially finished” by next year.

Currently, Suffolk Construction holds the construction bid for the ongoing parking garage project that began at Wonderland Station earlier this year and must be finished by March 2012.

In that project, Suffolk also came in with a bid much higher than anticipated, and two floors of the six-story garage had to be lopped off from the final project – as well as a number of aesthetic amenities.

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