Keller At Large: Big Dig Lights Political Fallout

BOSTON (CBS) — The state admitted Thursday that it made a mistake in not telling the public that lights in the Big Dig tunnel are corroding, especially since one fell to the ground a month ago.

The 110-pound fixture did not hit any cars, and officials insist the tunnels are safe, adding they found corrosion in fewer than two percent of the system’s 23,000 fixtures. That’s 345 lights.

“We’ve been pretty good, I think. Pretty universally good about communicating with people, letting people know what’s happening. Maybe we made a mistake here,” said Jeffrey Mullan, the state’s transportation secretary.

WBZ’s Jon Keller takes a look at the fallout.

Criticism for lack of the disclosure if coming from both sides of the aisle and from many people on the street, as well.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino questions the decision to wait six weeks to tell the public. Sen. Tom McGee (D-Lynn), the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee said the right thing would have been to notify the public that they were taking “the right steps.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones talked with lawmakers.

But Lt. Gov. Tim Murray told the Associated Press it was the right move to await completion of a full inspection before sharing the problem with the public.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones said getting the facts straight is important, “but given the history, I think this shows a certain tone deafness.”

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

More from Jon Keller
  • StanleyRamon

    What can be done either way? So now we all know that a light could fall on our vehicle as we pass through the tunnel. It’s like an obstacle course. Lights falling, ceiling tiles, pot holes, water squirting through the walls, only there’s no winners.

    • Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff...

      … appear to have won as they aren’t barred from bidding on future government contracts. What a country!

  • Keller @ Large: Out Of The Loop, Or On Message? « CBS Boston

    […] amid the political fallout from the news that a large light fixture came crashing down onto the Big Dig roadway last month, thankfully and […]

  • LudlowPalmer

    Why is anyone surprised? There will be no end to the defects that will surface in the Big Dig, but state officials continually minimize problems when they find them. A 110 LB fixture fell without warning, but they say that the public is in no danger? They keep awarding contracts to the companies that scammed us all, then they’re shocked at the results?? The officials who should be our watchdogs actually concealed this problem for 5 weeks. The history of lies & mismanagement tied to the Dig continues to grow year after year, decade after decade. How can the taxpayers believes ANYTHING these people tell us? Why do they keep handing lucrative contracts to the companies that ripped us off in the biggest public works project of all time?

  • Squash

    I think the gentleman on the street around the 1:40 mark hit the nail on the head…he is also really good looking dude. Sweater vest dude please drop me a line.

  • Lloyd Christmas

    Is that dude wearing a sweater vest? What is this? 1997

  • barney'scrank

    I like the sweater vest, the dude, and his opinions. lets get him in office….seems like a real go-getter.

  • Stephen Stein

    A nice analysis of both the political and technical aspects of this by Thurman Hart at BlueMassGroup, who points to the cause (galvanic corrosion) and makes an astute observation:

    “I can’t believe that a single light-bulb has not been replaced. Part of replacing those bulbs should be a spot inspection for pitting – the hallmark of galvanic corrosion. Failure to do so constitutes, in my mind, a total failure of responsibility to the public to maintain a safe environment.

    The failure is from the top of the heap down to the deckplate level. It may not rise to the level of criminality, but it certainly constitutes dereliction of duty. This is not an accident from out of nowhere, it is a foreseeable and preventable incident.”

  • xjma

    I’d rather play russian roulette than drive through any part of the big dig!!

  • State Eyes Cause Of Big Dig Lighting Collapse « CBS Boston

    […] Mullan told a legislative committee Tuesday the corrosion may have been started by contact between two different kinds of metal in the light fixture, and made worse by salt from snow and ice removal efforts. Read: Keller @ Large: Big Dig Lights Political Fallout […]

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