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Source : Contractor News
January 19, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has undertaken a project that is not just impact-driven but also purpose driven.
MBTA's $42.1 million Union Station Center Platform Project in Worcester provides an “opportunity” for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Minority and Women owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).
The Union City station is the gateway to the City of Worcester, and the presence of such a high proportion of women and minority-owned businesses is highly symbolic. District 2 Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson stated, "To have woman-owned construction companies and minority-owned construction companies is a big deal to us in the city."
A new high-level center platform will allow two trains to access the platform at the same time. Union Station is now the only station on the Worcester/Framingham Line that cannot accommodate two trains simultaneously.
The enhancement will thus allow for more direct trains between Boston and Worcester. A pedestrian bridge will connect two platforms. Apart from this, the project also includes new elevators, stairways, a pedestrian bridge, a track, a signal, and infrastructure enhancements and improvements to the commuter parking area's accessibility.
One portion of the project had been excavating the side of Union Station to waterproof the structure. Fisher, the owner of E.G. Fisher Construction, said, “It’s awesome they gave us a chance.” Fisher's company is one of the DBEs involved in the project. His company specializes in demolition and site work.
According to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, the project's goal is to hire DBEs for 20% of the overall construction contract. He said the project is "tracking to meet its goals," with 13.5?E participation about halfway through.
Peter Dunn, the city's economic development director and CEO of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority (WRA), which owns and runs Union Station, explained that the city has long maintained MWBE hiring targets. These include initiatives with 10% MBEs and 5% WBEs.
In recent years, Worcester has opted to analyze and update its DBE goals, in line with what the state and the City of Boston have done to update their goals.
The city collaborated with the UMass Donahue Institute, which does economic and public policy research, to evaluate its objectives.
The city provided many proposals in September to revise targets and encourage more MWBEs. These objectives were approved by the City Council in December and are set to be considered by the WRA soon.
The most noticeable change was that the city boosted its contracting goals to 15% WBE while maintaining its 10% MBE goal; this policy will apply not just to the city but also to the city's TIF/TIE policy and the WRA.
This brings the city's entire M/WBE hiring objective for public projects to 25%, matching Boston's total goal.
The second proposal is that the city and its partners enable and encourage MWBE certification, as the number of certified MWBEs in the city and state is significantly lower than the number of genuine minority- and woman-owned enterprises.
There is a lot of developmental work happening in Massachusetts. MassDOT has undertaken a project to examine and repair 644 state bridges found to be “structurally deficient”, as reported by Contractor News in September.
With ample public projects and new inclusive and equitable policies, it's a good time to be a small business in Massachusetts.