Keller @ Large: Patrick Administration Hopes You Missed Latest Big Dig News

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Editor

BOSTON (CBS) – The Patrick administration certainly hopes you were too busy running around on this fine summer weekend to pay attention to the news.

That’s why they waited until Friday afternoon to release documents demanded by WBZ-TV and other local news organizations documenting their handling of last winter’s safety hazard inside the Big Dig tunnels, when corroded light fixtures started to fall from the ceiling onto the roadway.

But you should know about it, and be outraged.

The documents reveal that shortly after the first heavy light fixture plummeted to the roadway, state highway workers discovered nine other lights were hanging by a thread, a threat to public safety every bit as dangerous as the problems that led to the infamous ceiling collapse that killed a local woman.

As the Globe puts it,“State engineers had no way of knowing how many more of the 25,000 lights in the Big Dig tunnels had become unstable – and plenty of reason to fear that corrosion was widespread after years of saltwater leaking into the tunnels. But the engineers in charge kept quiet. They filed no written report. They didn’t brief their boss. And when they asked federal regulators for money to fix a corrosion problem that “could’’ lead to falling light fixtures, they didn’t disclose that one had already fallen.”

The documents also show the state dragged its feet on investigating the problem, and essentially lied to the public about what was going on. Bottom line, reports the Globe: some 25,000 lights will have to be replaced at a potential cost of $200 million.

Guess who’s going to pay for that?

Listen to Keller @ Large

The same suckers who were knowingly placed at risk by the government’s failure to act more quickly, you and me.

Once again, we’re reminded of the ugly truth exposed by the Big Dig – state government, even after all the heat surrounding the project, is not capable of managing it well or telling us the truth when things go wrong. We were played for suckers all along by the incompetents who planned and built the Big Dig – and we’re still being played for suckers.

But don’t worry, be happy. And don’t let it spoil your time at the beach.

More from Jon Keller
  • Steve

    Wait a minute here. There’s 25,000 lights that need to be replaced and the State is going to shell out $200 Million!? Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s $8000 a light! Granted, I know you have to take into consideration labor costs, but still, even if you over estimate a labor cost of $1000 per light fixture to be installed, that’s still $7000 per light? I’m sure these aren’t you average Home Depot light, but that seem a bit outragous to me. This work gets contracted out right? Perhaps the state should accept multiple bids before signing a deal with a contractor. Seems like the State is throwing it’s tax dollars out the window.

    • Dave_D

      There you go, Steve! You are using logic and mathematics. You can’t do that when talking about government funded projects. You forget about the big trump cards: votes, campaign contributions, and kick-backs. You will never make it in Massachusetts government.

    • Rico

      They are throwing the money into someone’s pocket! It’s all about the corruption. If $16 billion was spent, and no quality work was done, the money only served to line someone’s pockets.

  • Mark

    There seems to be enough misconduct & malfeasance going on here that it should now be a federal crime being committed by a slew of state employess. And you know the old saying “the fish rots from the head”. FBI & US Attorneys office take note!

  • BostonIrish

    It is disgusting that there is a continuous parade of serious safety issues with regard to the Big Dig! The whole thing should be bulldozed and buried and a giant round-a-bout put in it’s place! Makes more sense and is much lower in maintenance costs! That’s how ridiculous this whole repetitive issue is. Staggering.

  • Dave_D

    Next big project in Massachusetts: Let’s fill in the tunnels and replace them with a (easy to maintain) surface artery. Added bonuses: no water seepage, nothing overhead to fall down, AND and a new government agency to build and run the project (continued or higher MassPike tolls, more taxpayer money to State and Boston police for details, and big bucks for any legislators who sign on early).

  • Dave_D

    And ,Jeffrey Mullan isn’t in jail.??” Jeffrey Mullan is still drawing a salary?? Why??

    The culture of any government agency starts at the top and flows ( I guess that I should say “oozes”) downward.

    We need more professional prosecutors and fewer politicians in this state.

  • emom

    All of BEACON HILL needs to be banished… We pay thru the nose YET we do not get QUALITY work for what we paid for .. WAIT we do not have QUALITY PERSONAL for that matter…. mumbles and his new giving some a break , OH ait I beleive some one else is giving some a break,,,, BUT ITS NOT THE TAX PAYERS….. ceiling tiles fall, railings sharp and killing lights now falling and the worse part is those tunnels at any time can be under water …. we should fire the lot of them up there in that GOLD DOME OF LIES. And as for our taxes we pay to them you bet its going to their pockets,, their GOLD LINED OVER INFLATED , STUFFED POCKETS. and dont forget whats left over HIREStheir family members and gives them jobs that really are not true jobs…. gold pockets under the GOLD DOME…

  • FireGuyFrank

    Yet Bay State voters will return all these pinheads to office because voters in MA tend to be liberal democrats. Massachusetts has lost its way ethically, morally, politically. What should one expect as a citizen of what was once a good place — the cradle of liberty and birthplace of the USA.

    Would the last one out please turn out the lights — if they haven’t fallen down, of course.

  • hojo

    This problem is not unique to MA. It is typical of any government enterprise. Yet there are still those in the general populace who believe government can solve our problems. Go figure.

  • JohnC

    I would think that these lights were overpriced at $800 each.

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