North Shore Connector Light Rail Extension


Two (2) new bored, underwater tunnels; new underground and elevated light rail; two (2) new subway stations; new aerial station




February 2009 – June 2012

VPO Team Members

Owner, Construction Management Firm, General Contractor, Eight (8) Specialty Contractors

The Challenge

As General Contractor (GC) for the North Shore Connector project, our client would be working with many different subcontractors on its execution. The GC’s project manager had worked on similar projects, and knew well that in order to maintain control over all of the contract documents, they would need a highly efficient electronic project management system.

Since this public transit extension project was one of the largest contracts that the GC had ever been awarded, they had to find and adopt a new method of project management that was more robust and comprehensive than any system they had used before.

Specifically, the GC was concerned about the number of submittals that would be generated. There were nine subcontractors working on the project, so there would likely be hundreds of submittals coming in for review from many different companies.

The GC realized that there needed to be a strong, standardized system in place because if every subcontractor submitted their items in a different way, the GC would not be able to stay on top of them all–which would delay the project.

In addition to the challenge of dealing with numerous submittals on this project, the owner would not budge on their mandate for a paper-based system of managing contract information. Written into the specifications was a requirement that each party submit five (5) hard copies of every contract document.

The GC knew that even with this paper-copy requirement on review-and-approval documents, the need for an electronic project management system was absolutely critical for supporting smooth communication and progress.

The Solution

The GC had awaited contract award for several months, so when they received notice to proceed, they were anxious to get VPO in place. Through a series of consulting sessions, Simplex worked with the GC’s project manager to capture and realize his vision of how VPO would best support the success of the project.

Simplex was able to share valuable Best-Practices information with the GC on how other project teams in the transit industry were using VPO to manage documents like submittals and RFIs on their projects. In addition, there were highly specific requirements to follow on this particular public project, so we worked together to configure VPO in ways which adhered to all contract specifications.

For example, we custom-designed the processes that each subcontractor would follow when submitting information and requests to the GC, as well as the corresponding procedures that the GC would use when submitting information or requests to the owner.

Even though hard final copies of contract documents such as RFIs, submittals and payment estimates were required by the owner, we were able to help the team adopt use of VPO as a “pencil copy” component. This way, team members could maintain a smooth review-and-approval document flow by receiving and processing information electronically and then following up with the required paper copies.

The team members circulate all project correspondence by simply posting documents to VPO and allowing automatic e-mail notifications to alert selected participants that the documents are available for review. Because the GC uses VPO to maintain a central calendar for the project, team members are able to receive real-time communications about new meetings, events, and milestones.

Within just three weeks’ time of our notice to proceed with VPO, Simplex was able to conduct VPO custom design consulting sessions, to develop VPO for use on the project, and to train all team members on the processes and procedures for using VPO to collaborate on the project.

Coordinating Contractors & Complexity