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

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Editor
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Transportation secretary Jeffrey Mullan points at the corroded mount of a light fixture that fell apart February in a Big Dig tunnel.  Highway supervisor Helmut Ernst and highway administrator Frank Tramontozzi stand next to him.

Transportation secretary Jeffrey Mullan points at the corroded mount of a light fixture that fell apart February in a Big Dig tunnel. Highway supervisor Helmut Ernst and highway administrator Frank Tramontozzi stand next to him.

420x316-grad-keller2 Jon Keller
Veteran Boston political commentator Jon Keller is heard every weekday...
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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.

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