Best Airports/Transit Project: CT Fastrak Busway, Contract 3
Owner Connecticut Dept. of Transportation
Lead Designer Michael Baker
General Contractor The Middlesex Corporation
The 5.85-mile-long project, adjacent to an active rail line, is part of CTfastrak—Connecticut’s first bus rapid transit system (BRT). Located between New Britain and Hartford, CTfastrak is projected to transport as many as 16,000 passengers daily, alleviating congestion and improving mobility along the Interstate-84 corridor.
Seven firms were involved in the project’s design, which required careful coordination of submittal reviews without compromising the original schedule. Once construction got underway, flexibility was essential, particularly after soils originally classified as non-hazardous required additional testing. Other issues presented potential obstacles as well, including generally poor subsurface conditions and traffic management needs. In every case, the contractor was able to shift its resources in order to keep the overall project on track and under budget.
Contract 3 also marked the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation’s first application of accelerated construction techniques, such as the use of precast wall segments for abutments and center piers. The project team quickly discovered that the panels—delivered horizontally—were at risk of cracking if a conventional single crane lifting technique was used during installation. To solve this problem, a specially crafted tilt table was constructed, consisting of two main steel girders with lift points at the top and a bottom-mounted hinge assembly. Timber components were placed across the girders to cushion the panels.
Once delivered to the site, each horizontal panel was lifted at multiple points and placed on the tilt table. Workers then oriented and rotated the table so that the panel was in the proper vertical position for installation. This method prevented cracking and eliminated the need for a second crane.
Other project team recommendations, such as the elimination of bituminous coating on all steel piles, helped reduce costs. Adding an overpass across the Amtrak rail line at Flatbush Avenue greatly reduced busway travel times.
In addition to the dedicated BRT roadway, the project team added more than four miles of Amtrak access road, installed underground utilities, erected 40,000 sq ft of sound barrier, reconfigured four bridges, constructed four new bridges and built seven new bus/train stations. The project also provided a five-mile multi-use trail.