International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Identifying the sources of complexity in the Urban Train project in Puerto Rico Quevedo, Antonio Gonzalez; Lopez del Puerto, Carla


The metropolitan area of San Juan in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has the highest concentration of vehicles per mile of paved road in the world. In order to improve the public transit system and decrease automobile dependency, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico decided to embark on a major infrastructure project, which consisted on the design and construction of a heavy rail train to serve the Metropolitan Area of San Juan. The first phase of the project consisted of a 10.69 mile segment with 16 stations. This paper uses a five dimensional project management (5DPM) model and develops a complexity map to identify the sources of complexity in the project. The 5DPM model includes the following dimensions: cost, schedule, technical, context and finance. The results indicate that the major source of complexity in this project was the technical dimension which was complex due to variable site conditions and the owner’s the lack of experience managing a project of this magnitude. Due to its scope and significance, the Urban Train project (Tren Urbano) provided an opportunity to train a group of young professionals who would later assume leadership positions in public projects in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. A structured professional development program was created in a partnership between the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The professional development program consisted of 6 key elements: (1) MIT short course in public transportation in Boston, (2) UPR Winter short course on the Urban Train and Transportation in Puerto Rico, (3) Student research project, (4) Professional Practicum (summer work internship) (5) Site visit to an operating transit system, and (6) Possible employment opportunities with contractor or consultant. The paper concludes that including a professional development component in the project benefited the students and faculty who were involved. It also concludes that the professional development program contributed to managing complexity in the technical dimension for future projects and in the context dimension for this project by increasing public support to the project through marketing and dissemination efforts. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by increasing our understanding on how to manage complexity in large transit projects and how to develop and implement a professional development program that contributes to project success.

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