Despite Leak Problem, Void In Soil, State Insists Big Dig Tunnels Are Safe

BOSTON (CBS) – A day after the void underneath one section of Big Dig tunnel reported, WBZ is learning more about another leak between two sections of the tunnel under South Boston.

Officials say drivers are safe because all of that water is being pumped out, but it can be up to hundreds of gallons an hour.

So far none of the temporary repairs have worked, and they need a permanent fix.

The problem is around what’s called the “super plug”.  It was supposed to connect two tunnels by the Fort Point Channel, but there’s a gap, at times six inches wide with water rushing in.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.

Details about this problem come on the heels of the report that the Big Dig soil around the I-90 connector tunnel that was frozen during construction for stability, is now sinking twice as quickly as engineers expected.

There is now a hole under the tunnel that 50,000 driver use every day.

The state says there is no danger.

But even one official is shocked by the size and scope of the problem.

Professor Andrew Whittle is the head of MIT’s Department of Civil Engineering and Environment.

“I’m more surprised that I don’t know what’s causing the movement,” says Whittle.

Whittle is an expert in ground soil. He has been stumped by what’s going on below the ground around the I-90 connector as the Big Dig soil thaws.

“I don’t think it’s a safety issue,” says Whittle. “It’s an issue that certainly wasn’t predicted, and it’s already cost some money to mitigate the effects.”

Whittle, who’s on the MassDOT board, says the tunnel can act as a bridge over possible voids below.

“The concrete box that makes up the tunnel contains a huge amount of steel,” said Whittle. “It’s a very stiff box with a lot of steel reinforcement so it’s probably not going anywhere.”

  • Italo

    “It’s a very stiff box with a lot of steel reinforcement so it’s probably not going anywhere.” So are the folks at the State House who allowed this White Elephant to have and become a life of its own!

    • Thomas Hood

      “Probably”? I know I will “probably” not get hit by a bus today, but still that’s not a very good wod for a structural engineer to use. Hardly instills confidence in our infrastructure, does it? I’m just sayin’…

      • Thomas Hood

        “wod” = “word”

  • Broms

    Does the Governor know yet? If not, keep firing the engineers until there are no more left that way the problem will go away.

  • A

    I will support anyone taking legal action against the construction companies, the governor and the state of Massachusetts, for gross mismanagement of tax payer money as well as misinformation of citizen to gain approval

    This is absolutely ridiculous

    1) Ice melts. What moron at the statehouse didn’t recognize this law of physics and wrote out a blank check when they said “we are just going to freeze the soil” ?

    2) The current Secretary of Transportation says “we don’t believe there any problems” – THE TUNNELS ARE SINKING AND 100’s OF GALLONS OF WATER IS COMING IN. What the heck constitute a problem in his head ?

    3) The new Secretary says there are no issues at all because if there were, they would not let drivers go through. Again WHAT THE HECK constitute a problem to these people ?

    This tunnel system is the greatest scam in Massachusetts history. It was overpriced, over budget, delayed and loads of problems frmo day 1

    And now then ?

    I want the tax money I paid to the state that they used for this fiasco returned to me.

  • emom

    AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH IT’S MELTINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG,,,, Ok the gallons of water since after the darn thing was built was never a problem…. I mean like what was the reason for all the water pouring in.. It was a huge clue to be looked into. Instead they said its only a MINOR LEAK.. Yeah now we hear the TRUTH…………….. Frozen ground that is now thawing…. LIKE WHO ACTULLY THOUGHT THAT BIRD BRAIN IDEA…………… I have never heard of such a thing.. But do not know much about the facts behind it.. Even DRY ICE will thaw… It thawed faster than they thought and the only reason to tell the public is WHY….OH YEAH ,,,,because the potential of a threat of collapse could be a problem,,,, so instead they now tell us its NO BIG DEAL.. Are the Chimps on beacon hill, BLIND, a truck load of Bananas shy of reality, are they digging their own graves or wait are they afraid that it could become a grave for hundreds. I can not believe they even thought it would be so SAFE.. So now what ,,, what is the plan of action to protect the public from harm.. Are they in that much denial or do they truly believe IT IS SAFE…. I pray it stays that way …. Because if something should happen to the tunnels,,, this state will never recover from such a huge lawsuit. Lets hope they act fast and fix this major bumble of a mistake.

  • Ashley

    how about the loose fasteners that were “safe”. the damn roof fell down on Milena Del Valle!! what makes anyone think it is “safe” to drive through today after these reports…. big dig = death trap now

    • A

      There is nothing to worry about. The Secretary of Transportation said so himself. “if there was an issue, we would not let drivers go through”

      See, nothing to worry about.

  • Ajay

    When the government has to tell me over and over and over again that something is safe…..somehow, it just doesn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

  • MassDOT To Manage Issues Like Big Dig Leaks ‘As They Arise’ « CBS Boston

    […] Related tags Big Dig, Big Dig Leaks, Boston, I-90, Massachusetts, MassDOT, Paul Burton, Richard Davey var addthis_product = 'wpp-261'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};if (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = {"templates":{"twitter":"{{title}} {{url}}"}};}BOSTON (CBS) – Two sections of the I-90 connecter tunnel under South Boston are leaking, and at times, there are hundreds of gallons of water rushing in every hour. It’s the biggest leak in the Big Dig. […]

  • Rep. Lynch Renews Calls For Big Dig Investigation « CBS Boston

    […] of a sink hole because the ground underneath has settled. The tunnels haven’t moved and engineers believe it is safe. He says in about a month they’ll drill down on both sides of the tunnel to get soil samples […]

  • Competent Person

    Excavation work like this project is inherently dangerous. One thing OSHA requires is a competent person (see to oversee the safety of excavation jobs.

  • State Reveals Plans To Fix Big Dig Soil, Lights, Guard Rails « CBS Boston

    […] Last month, engineers revealed that previously frozen soil around South Station has been thawing, opening up a space underneath a Big Dig tunnel. State officials, however, insist the tunnels are safe. […]

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