Inspecting New England’s Largest Transportation Development

The Green Line Extension (GLX) project will transform the transportation system of Massachusetts by extending the northern end of the railway from Lechmere to Union Square in Somerville, and College Avenue in Medford.

Many aspects of the Green Line Extension will benefit the entire state of Massachusetts. The project will create additional transportation routes in the Medford and Somerville neighborhoods, while reducing the number of vehicles on local roads and improving traffic conditions. These improvements to infrastructure will advance the region’s plans for greater sustainability and urban redevelopment. When complete, over 50,000 more people will have access to public transportation on a daily basis.

Nobody has more insight on this project than Fenagh’s very own GLX Materials Testing and Inspections Coordinator, Bill Rapp. Bill has decades of experience in materials testing and inspections along with a Management degree. His father owned an engineering design, build, and materials testing firm, and Bill worked there for 20 years before relocating to Boston to work with Fenagh.

Bill’s ‘Quality Control’ role on the Boston GLX project involves coordinating with all of the materials testers on the project. He instructs Fenagh’s inspectors on where to go and what to look for. In terms of inspections, Bill lets them know where their tasks and goals are for the day, whether that be inspecting steel cages for drilled shafts, piles, grout sampling, rebar inspections, soils compaction testing, soils sampling or another necessary task. Bill also coordinates and schedules all of the concrete testing that is performed on the job site.

NETTCP (North East Transportation Training and Certification Program) inspections have been a big part of this project. A lot of NETTCP inspections, especially for concrete, mimic and mirror the ACI Level 1 Concrete Testing Technician parameters and processes. However, NETTCP goes a little bit further in terms of what the different materials are that make up the concrete. In terms of soils and aggregate, NETTCP is a little more involved than your regular Nuclear Density Testing Certification because it teaches you how these soils and aggregates react under lab testing. Then in terms of asphalt, NETTCP tells you how to properly sample and test asphalt, going so far as to indicate the tons of asphalt on a certain project, and how many trucks you need to complete that project. This helps the inspector or tester become more aware of how long a project is supposed to last on a given day and if they fall short of their goals due to time constraints and weather.

The most challenging part of the job for Bill is juggling all the inspectors and testers around in order to get all tests finished throughout the day. On any given day, a lot of surprises can come up for Fenagh, like a new concrete pour or last-minute inspection that arises for example. In an instance like this, Bill has to determine if the inspection request has been put in on time, the importance/priority and if the necessary inspector will be finished with his or her other projects to get to the new one on schedule. Things happen at a very fast pace in the construction industry, especially in the summertime. Oftentimes our workers don’t know what is going to happen until the next day. Overcoming these challenges requires an experienced professional like Bill to balance the flexibility and coordination with the relative importance and scope of each individual task.

Bill’s favorite part of working on the Boston GLX project is seeing the progress in real time and the individual steps involved in its completion, which is set for 2021. He enjoys watching the project progress from the ground up: the underdrain going in, the track moving from side to side, and all the workers involved. Right now, the GLX project has 145 bodies on it at any given time and that number is expected to grow to 300 this summer, doubling in size. The project is adding new drill crews, laborers, foreman, and superintendents. Meeting the workers from these various crews has been another one of Bill’s favorite parts of the project, and probably the most fun.

Do you want to know more about the Boston Green Line Extension project?

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