Contact Us
News

Thanks, Big Dig

Boston

Want to get a jump-start on upcoming deals? Meet the major Boston players at one of our upcoming events!

Thanks, Big Dig
The Seaport wouldn?t be one of the hottest US CRE markets, and the rest of Boston wouldn?t be nearly so inviting for investment and development, if not for the $16B Big Dig. It provided transportation infrastructure and unlocked the development potential of the once isolated waterfront. The shepherd of it all, from concept to the start of construction? Fred Salvucci.
Fred Salvucci (the former state transportation secretary) teacher at MIT
We found Fred (former state transportation secretary) at MIT, where he was trained as an engineer and now teaches. He says that the project (planned, financed, and approved from ?70 through ?90 and built from ?90 through ?05) transformed the largely vacant Seaport. The Big Dig linked it by roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit to the rest of the city and region. Now, Fred says, the Seaport is the nation's most unique CRE asset:1,000 acres of waterfront land, convenient to the CBD and the 'burbs, and 10 minutes from the airport. The Big Dig itself is one-of-a-kind. Mostly federally funded, Fred says it's the largest, most complex US highway project he's aware of and the first used to rebuild a city and promote economic growth. It also included rebuilding all of Boston's old underground utilities (water, sewer, gas, and electric) and laying fiber optic cable for communications.
Reznick (Know) JBOS
Vig Krishnamarthy,MIT
Vig Krishnamarthy is one of Fred's students. Fred says that the Big Dig also has an access system of subway and commuter rails that extends 20 miles out of downtown (revamped from ?75 to ?85, again with federal funds). For the Big Dig, highways I-90 and I-93 were rebuilt downtown below ground level with no loss of jobs or housing. A major challenge was getting huge amounts of excavation out and massive shipments of steel and concrete into downtown while the city kept functioning. Fred recalls that most developers feared traffic jams would scare away investors. But the Beacon Co's Norm Levanthal thought the Big Dig was an investment in the future that the CRE industry had to support and manage in order to survive. He favored formation of, and was active in, the Artery Business Committee.
Thanks, Big Dig
We snapped Rick Dimino, Boston transportation commissioner during the Big Dig, in front of new Seaport highway/surface road interchanges. (He wants us to be very wary of turning vehicles.) The Big Dig required building a portion of I-90 under Ft Point Channel, beneath the South Station commuter rail tracks, and over the Red Line tunnel built in 1910. Fred says that was done without disrupting the state's largest factory, the Gillette plant on the Channel. The Big Dig didn't muddy the water that Gillette uses for cooling or create vibrations. If construction cracked the Red Line tunnel, it would have filled with water and shut down the Boston economy. Fred says Parsons Brinckerhoff?s Lou Solano, a guy from Brooklyn, figured out how to do it right. The Big Dig also had to ?thread the needle? near the Aquarium where I-93 was built under State Street but over the Blue Line. Now, Fred says the reconstructed roof of the Blue Line is the floor of the Central Artery and the surface of State Street.