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Patrick On Big Dig Light: ‘Concerning’ He Wasn’t Informed Sooner

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A light similar to this fell within the tunnels of the Big Dig. (credit: Kate Merrill/CBS)

A light similar to this fell within the tunnels of the Big Dig. (credit: Kate Merrill/CBS)

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BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick said Friday that his Transportation Secretary made a mistake by not informing him – and the general public — earlier about a potential problem with light fixtures in Big Dig tunnels.

“It’s as concerning to me as it is … to the public that I wasn’t told about this until six weeks after the light fell and it’s concerning to Secretary (Jeffrey) Mullan, who I think has quite appropriately apologized,” said Patrick, who met with reporters at the Statehouse following his return from a 10-day trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom.

The 110-pound light fixture fell from the ceiling and crashed to the ground during the morning commute on Feb. 8. No cars were hit.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030 has additional comments from the governor

Mullan has said he ordered an immediate inspection of the 23,000 other light fixtures in the Big Dig tunnels, but did not make the incident or the subsequent inspections public until a news conference on Wednesday, one day after the governor was informed. Other administration officials, including Lt. Gov. Timothy Muray, were told a few days before Patrick.

Mullan acknowledged Thursday that he erred in not informing Patrick earlier, and the governor Friday said his confidence in the secretary was not shaken.

“He has given not just me but the public lots of reasons to have confidence in him because of his performance in the job. He’s acknowledged that he made a mistake here and it’s a significant one but we move on from here,” Patrick said.

The governor said the inspections of the fixtures were complete and that relatively few appeared to have corrosion problems believed to have caused the one fixture to give way. He said there should be no cause for alarm among motorists.

Each fixture consists of two 8-foot powder-coated aluminum components clamped to the ceiling with 10 stainless-steel clips.

“But it’s worrisome because of the heightened level of sensitivity that we all have after the ceiling tiles collapsed some years ago, and I think the secretary has acknowledged that the right thing to do would have been to inform the public,” the governor said.

Patrick was referring to the collapse of several 4,600-pound ceiling panels in 2006 in another portion of the Big Dig tunnel system. Milena del Valle of Boston, 38, was killed when the car she
was riding in was crushed.

The $15 billion highway project, the most expensive in U.S. history, was plagued by design flaws and leaks.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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