The latest design-build infrastructure project on which the contractor filed a lawsuit against its designer has pitted joint venture GLX Constructors against STV Inc. for work on Boston's $2.3-billion Green Line extension.

Filed in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts, the GLX Constructors complaint says STV owes $35 million to the joint venture—made up of Fluor Enterprises Inc., The Middlesex Corp., Herzog Contracting Corp. and Balfour Beatty—for alleged errors the designer made on the 4.7-mile-long extension.

The engineer's preliminary design and estimates were crucial to determining costs. In some cases, GLX claims it was required to demolish already-built concrete structures. The defects turned up in noise barriers and a vehicle maintenance facility, among other places, with retaining walls especially troublesome, according to the complaint.

GLX claims revisions to the original design added more than 6,500 sq ft of retaining wall, an 800% increase, as well as more than 5,300 sq ft of cast-in-place concrete coping and nearly 12,700 sq ft of track guard rail.

The joint venture hired STV in January 2018 under a teaming agreement that included preliminary design submitted as part of the best value procurement's technical proposal. GLX used the engineer's work to calculate the cost and the project's firm lump sum.

STV, in a statement, says it believes the litigation is a commercial dispute that "will be resolved in [the engineer's] favor through the judicial process" and that the company "is proud of this highly successful project and the critically important contribution of its design to that success."

A lawyer for GLX and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority did not respond to ENR's requests for comment.  

The lawsuit is not the first controversy over the long-delayed Green Line extension, which had a major reset by the agency in 2016. Earlier estimates came in hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

GLX took over the revamped project after reductions to keep costs in line. The first part of the new Green Line service and stations that extended it in Somerville, Mass., opened in March 2022, followed by the 3.7-mile Medford branch last December.

The litigation is not the first time a contractor seeking to recover a loss on a design-build infrastructure project has targeted the design firm. Such lawsuits have become common on large projects, ENR reported, even when the contractors and designers are part of the same joint venture. 

On the Green Line extension, GLX claims STV indemnified the contractors for design errors arising from their own work and refused to pay—a contention that will have to await more legal pleadings to verify details and accuracy if the dispute is not settled in its early stages.