Keller @ Large: A Look Back At The Big Dig

BOSTON (CBS) – The Big Dig is certainly the unwanted gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?

Let’s take a condensed look back at selected low lights from the sorry history of this costly fiasco: the flagrant politicization of the planning process that helped fuel the horrendous cost overruns that left most of the rest of our roads and bridges statewide starving for minimal upkeep…the costly leaks in the Fort Point Channel and Central Artery tunnels….the sloppy construction of the slurry walls that helped accelerate the leaking…the deadly negligence of the ceiling panels in the Mass Pike tunnel that led to the death of an innocent citizen…the tunnel railings that proved to be dangerously misplaced.

And through it all, the bi-partisan political posturing and outright lying.

Listen to Jon Keller’s commentary:

Yes, traffic flows much better to and from the airport and somewhat better through downtown, and the Greenway is a pleasant-enough park, however grotesquely over-priced and short of expectations. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble enjoying any of that without thinking of the Big Dig’s overwhelming negatives.

Also See: Keller @ Large: Greenway’s Failed Promises

And it’s with that context in mind that I have a suggestion for the new Secretary of Transportation, Jeff Mullan, an honest man untainted by the blunders and egomania of the past — next time you stumble on yet another outrageous Big Dig design flaw, like the discovery in early February that heavy light fixtures were rusting right off the tunnel ceilings because they weren’t built to stand the weather, don’t wait six weeks before telling us about it.

In essence, Mullan says he didn’t want to alarm anyone until he could assess how widespread this latest problem was, but we’re well past that when it comes to this turkey of a project. Many, if not most of us assume that problems remain with the Big Dig, that will cost us and threaten us for years to come.

So Secretary Mullen, don’t worry about scaring us. We’re there already. The only thing YOU have to fear is that our chronic fear will be compounded by our hard-earned suspicion.

More from Jon Keller
  • Stephen Stein

    Jon, I have a couple of suggestions
    – Stand at the Haymarket and look toward the North End. Remember what that looked like 25 years ago? Remember what it SOUNDED like 25 years ago?
    – Imagine the Big Dig never happened. Then contemplate the stories the crumbling artery would have generated in the past 10 years.

    I know it’s probably not worth $15B, but things are certainly better now than it would have been, as you might realize with those exercises.

    • blackbear1

      You have low standards and expectations! This is what it was supposed to do. Not have excessive greed and incompetence line up at the water trough. Imagine if the big dig never happened will not do. This is a black mark to this wonderful city.

    • BostonIrish

      Steve, you’re right about the change in the physical appearance, but wrong that it’s the better of 2 scenarios. It NEVER should have cost what it did. It NEVER should have had the problems after the fact that it did based on the cost alone. And a woman should never have died as a result of the finished product. More shamed and frustrated than anything regarding it. I drive through that tunnel often. I always remember it. That’s valued progress?

      • Stephen Stein

        I agree wholeheartedly about the cost and the continuing problems. I’m just saying that the Artery needed to be replaced with SOMETHING – it was a horrible monstrosity at the end of its useful life, and it’s not like going forward with it would be a zero cost, completely safe alternative.

  • mikey

    “Don’t wait six weeks before telling us about it.” One has to remember that to a bureaucrat, six weeks is considered to be Express Mail service, same day airport service.

  • mikey

    Might this be coming? “Keller @ Large: A Look Back At Cape Wind”

    Now we’re talking corrosion.

  • emom

    the coast line is already corroding, and there is no WIND FARMS< Change has been good and bad over the decades, some have had to be reworked, But stillsome has been good, I would like to hear the feed back on the cape since they took out the rotary, talk about congestion… still a lot of work needed there,

    • mikey

      Well, here in Wellfleet the oceanside beaches took a drubbing from this winter’s storms and are severely eroded. In fact, Lecount Hollow Beach is now so badly eroded that in its current condition it’s more conducive to cliff-dwelling than sun bathing.

  • ENUF

    Corrupt pols and strong arm unions, Massachusetts is thy name. Every project has and will be tainted by those two groups.

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