Management: Lessons on Risk and Project Management from the Big Dig. She served as the Big Dig’s
deputy chief legal counsel and risk manager.
Geotechnical challenges also crop up; parts of
Boston sit atop fill. “Boston is a city built on and
along the shoreline. Consequently, it’s always been
difficult to build here,” Ms. Greiman says. “The
movement of the tides means soil conditions are
not very stable.”
Yet another challenge is an unpredictable con-
struction season length due to erratic winter weather,
Dr. Gamez says. And then there’s Boston’s age:
Founded in 1630, it’s one of the oldest cities in the
United States. “Working downtown, especially, has its
own challenges in terms of the historic grounds and
making precautions for any undocumented artifacts
you might uncover underground,” Dr. Gamez says.
Archaeological risks translate into complicated
and expensive preservation techniques, along with
extra stakeholders. “We have to work hand-in-hand
with municipal government agencies, of which
there are many,” says David Petersile, PMP, senior
project manager in the Boston office of PMI Global
Executive Council member Burns & McDonnell.
Input from neighborhood associations, citizen
groups, historical societies, universities and other
organizations is also common.
“A lot of schedule delays and cost overruns are
due to stakeholder involvement,” Mr. Petersile says.
“Many projects today are being pushed forward
without designs that are 100-percent complete.
That can slow down projects because everyone
wants to give their input as the design evolves.”
Plan for the Worst
For infrastructure project leaders, the best
approaches to Boston’s complex project environment are clear. They must do deep up-front
planning, prepare stakeholders for lengthy
projects and learn to be patient.
“These are long-term projects. We need
to be more transparent about the fact that
they may take longer, cause more inconve-
nience and perhaps cost more money than
we’d like,” Ms. Greiman says. “And we need
to make sure we have the right structure
in place—including the right governance,
expertise, budget, risk assessment and stake-
holder engagement—before moving forward
Communicating and realizing benefits is
also crucial, says Mr. Petersile. From a ben-
efits standpoint, he notes that Boston’s infra-
structure project track record is better than
its reputation. For example, by rerouting an
expressway into a new tunnel beneath down-
town, the Big Dig improved access to the South
Boston waterfront and spurred rapid development.
It has been one of the fastest-growing urban areas
in the state. Nearly 8,000 jobs were created between
2000 and 2013 and another 22,930 are projected
by 2035, according to the South Boston Waterfront
Sustainable Transportation Plan, a report released
by a coalition of government agencies in 2015.
“Boston residents have come to accept that with
growth comes some pain and difficulty. They’ve
experienced the trials and tribulations of projects,
but now they’re seeing the positive results,” he says.
“The city since I’ve lived here has changed dramatically, and it’s only for the better. With all the development that’s taking place, it’s poised for continued
growth.” —Matt Alderton
the trials and
—David Petersile, PMP,
Burns & McDonnell, Boston,
PHOTO BY JOHN TLUMACKI/THE BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES