Massachusetts' officials are bracing for a lengthy recovery process following the March 26 fatal collapse during demolition of a section of a hulking Brutalist-era parking garage in Boston. JDC Demolition was razing the Government Center structure to make way for a 410,000-sq-ft life-sciences complex, when a multistory portion near the top failed, killing 51-year-old operating engineer Peter Monsini.
In the wake of the incident, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority shut down key portions of the Green and Orange subway lines that run below the garage. MBTA says it could take days to assess possible subway tunnel damage and fully restore "T" service, currently replaced by shuttle buses.
Meanwhile, officials at Boston’s Inspectional Services Dept. are reviewing plans put forward by the developer and its contractors to stabilize the garage. Once the structure is stable, MBTA safety and engineering experts can descend into the subway to inspect the tunnels for any movement or damage.
“Obviously, we’ve had a terrible tragedy occur,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told WBZ-TV. “What happened is tons of debris have fallen onto the top of the tunnels. So first, we need to make sure the site is safe for staff to go in and actually inspect those tunnels.”
The phased demolition, which has been underway for more than five years as part of the $1.5-billion mixed-use Bullfinch Crossing, was “engineered by leading industry experts and executed by some of the premier contractors in the region,” said a spokesperson for the project’s developer, HYM Investment Group and National Real Estate Advisors.
The accident occurred at about 5:30 p.m., when the garage’s ninth floor gave way under Monsini, the Boston Herald reported, citing Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey. Monsini, a 20-year veteran of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4 in Medway, Mass., was operating an excavator.
The collapse sent Monsini and tons of concrete tumbling roughly 100 ft to the ground. The Boston Police Dept. is handling the death investigation, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigating the incident as well, according to a BPD spokesperson.
HYM and National Real Estate Advisors said in a statement, “we are fully cooperating with investigators to gather all of the facts to make a true determination on what happened.”
In addition to halting demolition, the developers temporarily stopped interior work on an office tower under construction on a section of the garage site previously cleared.
JDC Demolition and the project’s general contractor, John Moriarty & Associates, did not return calls for comment.
The longest running demolition project in Boston history, the dismantling of the massive Government Center garage kicked off in 2017 and was on track for completion later this year before the fatal incident.
Space for New Towers
The aim of the complex demolition project has been to free up space for new towers and other new development by taking down part of the sprawling garage, even while keeping in place a smaller section of the garage with 1,159 spaces. That section has remained in use, even after the accident, according to a spokesperson for the developer.
Demolition crews had previously taken out portions of the garage to make way for an apartment tower, the Sudbury, which opened in 2020, and a new office tower, currently under construction.
A statement from Local 4 says Monsini was a “great friend to many of us and...will be sadly missed.”
The union is offering grief counseling to its members and their families.