South Boston Piers Transitway/Silver Line Project

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority


Provide a broad range of support in corridor planning, analysis of transportation improvement alternatives, development of the locally preferred alternative, environmental review, and other services for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) bus rapid transit (BRT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts project. The South Boston Piers Transitway project was designed to provide high-capacity transit service to an emerging development area along the waterfront in South Boston, with connections to the MBTA’s existing transit system in downtown Boston (rapid transit, commuter rail, express and intercity bus, and intercity rail). The Transitway project evolved into the Silver Line Phases 2 and 3 projects, to provide more expansive connections to downtown Boston and the emerging South Boston waterfront area.

Our Approach

From 1992 to 2009, Cambridge Systematics played a key role in this project by:

  • Managing the preparation of and authoring a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Report (FEIS/R) for the project in accordance with Federal and state regulations;
  • Assisting in the negotiation of the MBTA’s first-ever Full Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA for the $601 million first phase of the project;
  • Conducting socioeconomic impact and financial feasibility analyses and supporting efforts to develop a financial plan for the project’s implementation, including identification of opportunities for joint development and private-sector financing for the new transit service;
  • Managing the Federal New Starts submittal, obtaining approval to initiate preliminary engineering for Phase 3; and
  • Preparing Annual Updates submitted to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Unit documenting progress made on the entire effort.

Project Results

The MBTA’s Silver Line Phase 2 (previously Transitway Phase 1), which opened in 2004, consists of a tunnel extending from South Station to the new Federal courthouse at Fan Pier and the World Trade Center, with surface routes continuing to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and to Logan International Airport via the Ted Williams Tunnel. The Phase 3 work, which was advanced but put on hold as funding issues resolved, proposed to extend from the New England Medical Center area to Boylston and Chinatown Stations and along Essex Street to South Station.