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Keller @ Large: Big Dig Warns Us About Grandiose Promises

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Some the asphalt-covered potholes leading to the Zakim Bridge

Some the asphalt-covered potholes leading to the Zakim Bridge

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Yesterday I had what was actually a refreshing exchange with State Highway Chief Frank DePaola about the latest horror story about the Big Dig, a fiasco DePaolo had nothing to do with.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

That seemed to free him to be especially candid about the egregious, inexcusable blunders that led Big Dig contractor Bechtel Parsons to use concrete surfacing on the Big Dig tunnel ramps instead of asphalt, a decision that has resulted in them having to be torn up and replaced a good 25 years before the end of their projected lifespan, at an estimated cost of up to a million dollars or more.

Did they do it because they were trying to cut costs, I asked DePaolo?

No, he said, they used the concrete because that’s what they’d used on projects in the the south and southwest.

But we use asphalt here in the northeast because it stands up better to our temperature fluctuations and and wintertime road chemicals.

And it didn’t dawn on the geniuses in charge that Boston is in the northeast, not the southwest?

“Apparently not.”

Incredible!

Mr. DePaolo tried to be diplomatic about it, but when I asked him if this was a blunder comparable to the mixing of debris into the slurry walls that led to the disastrous leakage, or the use of inferior ceiling panel attachments that led to the fatal collapse in the Mass Pike tunnel, he said simply, “yes.”

And finally, when I asked him what level of confidence he had that this would be the last Big Dig blunder we’ll discover, he paused and replied:

“I really dont know the answer to that question.”

So here we are, saddled with yet another costly chapter in the Big Dig’s legacy of mismanagement, ineptitude, dishonesty, and failure.

Where will it end?

Who knows.

But every time you blow a tire or bend a rim this summer on a road left in disrepair due to the Big Dig money drain, or sit in traffic jams within the project itself as they do their latest patch job, think of all the unrealistic expectations and grandiose promises that led us to this depressing point.

And get out your wallet, because you and I will be paying for those failures for years to come.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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