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RailWorks Completes Upgrades to Lechmere Viaduct


RailWorks recently completed upgrades on the century-old Lechmere Viaduct, a vital rail bridge connecting downtown Boston and Cambridge, Mass.

Opened in 1912, the viaduct carries Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line trains across the Charles River. From July 2020 to late 2021, RailWorks rehabilitated the aging structure, making upgrades to increase weight capacity and service frequency.

RailWorks removed and reconstructed inbound and outbound track across the viaduct’s 12 aging bridge spans and rehabilitated track within the Science Park/West End station in Boston. Work included:

-           Removing and reinstalling 3,200 TF of running rail on open deck bridge;

-           Removing and reinstalling 500 TF of running rail on ballast deck bridge;

-           Removing and reinstalling 3,600 TF of bridge guardrail system;

-           Removing, furnishing, and installing 2,342 timber ties on open deck bridge;

-           Removing, furnishing, and installing 308 track ties on ballast deck bridge;

-           Removing and installing 220 tons of ballast on open deck bridge;

-           Surfacing 500 TF of ballast-on-ballast deck bridge;

-           Furnishing and installing 16 insulated joints to convert the signal system from a single rail to dual rail system;

-           Furnishing and installing 8 expansion joints at the east and west ends of the project.

To accelerate project completion, RailWorks crews worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, logging more than 37,000 manhours on the job. Project access for materials was 85% marine access, meaning most equipment and material delivery to the work area was done via tugboat and barge. Due to the accelerated project schedule, RailWorks worked simultaneously with the prime contractor and eight additional subcontractors, sharing space and equipment.

“Rehabilitating a historic structure like the Lechmere Viaduct while preserving its integrity takes difficult and precise work,” said Mike McGee, RailWorks Vice President of Regional Operations. “The RailWorks team did an excellent job of completing the project on time, given the high levels of coordination needed.”

The Lechmere Viaduct Rehabilitation supports the MBTA’s larger Green Line Extension, as trains will cross the viaduct to access the newly constructed stations.