Dulles Corridor Metrorail Station Finishes
Our willingness to be flexible and to find solutions that work for all parties involved allows us to overcome otherwise intractable scheduling issues.
“What we wind up doing is working everywhere at the same time. Instead of working our way through the stations we’re in all the stations, working on all of these issues, all at the same time. We put more resources on it and staffed up our subcontractors and moved things around and worked with all stakeholders to meet the schedule.”
– Joe Scarpelli, Executive Vice President
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project consisted of transit expansion of just over 23 miles of added track and 11 new stations connecting Washington D.C.’s Orange Line to Loudon County in Virginia via Washington Dulles International Airport. Phase 1, which includes 5 of the 11 new stations, is already completed while Phase 2 is scheduled to commence in 2020.
Northern Virginia’s Dulles Corridor runs through a number of the region’s busiest urban and economic centers. With five stations and extended track to be constructed over a distance of approximately 11 miles, and with a projected cost of $11.6 billion, the project was both vast and complicated. As one of the major contractors on the job, we were responsible for coordinating and completing two “finishes packages.” These packages included firewalls, masonry, paint finishes, door frames, hardware, and the installment of suspension railings for acoustic metal ceilings.
As one of many subcontractors working for Bechtel, our biggest challenge was finding ways to coordinate work with other teams, particularly those working on infrastructure, while also managing our own schedule.
Almost immediately there were major scheduling issues. Aside from laying out a timeline for the work itself, scheduling involved the hiring and managing of sub-contractors, as well as the procurement and delivery of materials and equipment.
To add yet another layer of complexity, the project saw a number of very involved change notices, some comprising up to 200 changes at a time. With each new set of changes, the project had to be completely re-evaluated, new instructions distributed, and pricing renegotiated. As one of our Project Managers put it, “…new design drawings were coming in at such an accelerated rate that it was a challenge to know which ones were the right ones, and to make sure our subs had the right set to work from.”
The last six months of the project were by far the most challenging. Having adjusted the schedule to accommodate infrastructure development and a significant number of change orders and with a set deadline fast approaching, our team found themselves with a severely compressed timeline. Not only did the work need to be coordinated with the electrical teams (installing wiring in the ceilings), but also with the workers laying down the floors, and later with the Rail Contractors who were starting to lay the tracks and test the trains. When the trains come through a station they create “uplift,” a force that puts extra pressure on the ceiling structure. For that reason, it was imperative that we got suspension railings installed before any of the testing could commence.
At several points in the project, our Project Managers were frustrated at scheduling issues that seemed intractable. To solve the problem, we drew on our years of experience in the field, working closely with the other parties involved to find practical solutions.
We broke the schedule all the way down, separating each station into 8-9 sections and coordinated the work with our suppliers and the other teams involved. Instead of working our way through the stations one at a time, we hired more guys so that we could “work everywhere at the same time.”
In the end, we prevailed and the work was completed by the deadline, helping to deliver a world class 21st-century transit system.