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Construction stops at South Station Tower after beam falls from the site, officials say

Construction workers look to secure a beam that smashed into the South Station Tower that is under construction.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The company building a 51-story tower over South Station agreed to temporarily shut down the project Thursday, following a request from the MBTA to stop construction “immediately” after a large steel beam fell from the site Wednesday and landed above the South Station commuter rail platform, officials said.

“In an abundance of caution, OSHA, the MBTA and Suffolk agreed to temporarily shut down the South Station Tower project during the initial investigation into the cause of yesterday’s incident,” said Suffolk Construction Co., the construction company building the South Station Tower, in a statement Thursday. “Suffolk continues to cooperate with that investigation. We will resume work once we are all confident in the safety of the jobsite.”


MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng spoke with the construction company Thursday morning, according to Lisa Battison, an MBTA spokesperson, and asked Hines, the Texas developer behind the tower, to stop construction “immediately.”

“As a result of yesterday’s incident, the MBTA notified the private developer that this incident interfered with the T’s transportation operations and posed a risk to public safety,” Battison said Thursday. “The MBTA ordered work to immediately stop on the project following the incident.”

The MBTA then told Hines to “take a number of safety actions in accordance with its agreement with the MBTA,” and said the company was “responsible to reimburse the MBTA for all costs” related to the incident, Battison said.

The tower is the second major downtown construction project to be slowed by an accident in the last two years.

The demolition and redevelopment of the Government Center Garage was halted for months after an accident there killed a construction worker in March 2022. That incident, and underground inspections that followed, also prompted service shutdowns of the Orange and Green Lines that run beneath that site.


The beam fell from the top of the South Station project on Wednesday afternoon and shattered multiple windows on the way down before becoming lodged in the ninth floor, right above the commuter rail platform, said James Greene, deputy chief of the Boston Fire Department.

There were no injuries reported.

The 51-story tower, which has been in the works for more than three decades, broke ground just before the pandemic began in 2020 after the project closed on a $870 million construction loan.

The project, unveiled last June and being built “directly over” the South Station train and bus terminal, is in “Phase 1″ of building the 1-million-square-foot tower, according to the construction company’s website. The tower will include 166 luxury condominiums on the upper floors, above 685,000 square feet of office space.

In an earlier statement Thursday afternoon, Suffolk Construction said “no one was injured” after the steel beam fell.

“An incident occurred on the South Station Tower project site yesterday,” the statement said. “It appears a piece of form work fell from an upper level of the structure and landed in an exclusion zone on the ninth floor that was cordoned off and not accessible to the workers.”

The construction company said they are investigating the incident.

“The safety of our workers and communities is our number one priority, so we are currently investigating the cause of the incident,” the statement said.

Hines did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.


Mayor Michelle Wu told reporters after a press conference Thursday that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the lead agency on the investigation.

The city is working closely with the agency to “understand what exactly happened” on Wednesday, she said, but there was not an update on the current status of the project.

“The safety of construction sites is not an option,” Wu said. “There should be no question that workers get to go home safe and happy and healthy to their families at the end of each day.”

Wu said the city started implementing a construction safety ordinance last December. The new regulations “ensure a safety plan on every site as well as routine check-ups” every six months, she said, and part of the investigation is determining whether the South Station Tower construction site followed these regulations.

“New regulations that have been put in place around construction safety apply to all contractors and anyone who is doing work on any scale,” Wu said. “The question here will be just to make sure everything was followed and whether that was accurately reflected in their planning and other processes.”

OSHA responded to the South Station incident Wednesday and “opened an inspection” into the incident and S&F Concrete of Hudson, according to Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the federal agency.

S&F Concrete is a subcontractor on the project, officials said.

A Globe reporter called S&F Concrete for comment Thursday, but a spokesperson had not responded Thursday.


“OSHA’s inspection is ongoing,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email Thursday. “Its purpose is to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards.”

OSHA does not discuss an open investigation, and “has up to six months to complete the inspection,” according to Fitzgerald.

Bob Conti, an Amtrak worker at the station, said he heard the beam hit the ninth floor.

“It went bang,” he said. “Everybody heard it. It’s steel dropping.”

Conti said the beam was held by cables that kept it from falling into the station.

“There was no way the steel could get through,” he said, noting that he was not concerned for his own safety. “Worse things have happened that they never tell you about.”

Ava Berger can be reached at ava.berger@globe.com. Follow her @Ava_Berger_.