By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Over at the State Police barracks on the Massport Haul Road Wednesday, the lawn looked like a junkyard, strewn with crumpled car bodies and shattered glass.

These were the remnants of a busy – but not atypical – morning inside the Tip O’Neill tunnel, where two separate crashes involving 14 cars did a number on the morning commute.

A crash involving several cars in O'Neill Tunnel, Dec. 3, 2014. (Image credit: MassDOT)

A crash involving several cars in O’Neill Tunnel, Dec. 3, 2014. (Image credit: MassDOT)

Why is the heart of the most expensive public-works project in the history of the world a perennial demo derby for hapless motorists?

The O’Neill tunnel has been this way since it opened in 2003. A study later that decade found more than 20-times as many crashes were occurring there than in the Callahan and Sumner tunnels combined.

If you’ve ever driven through it, you know why.

The thing is an engineering debacle, too many lanes of traffic jammed into too small a space with blind curves preceding on- and off-ramps, bad lighting and confusing signage. And at both ends of the tunnel, 55 mile per hour traffic which is usually going faster than that is expected to drop to 45 mph as it heads down a steep slope into Hades, or rather, the tunnel itself.

The state has tried to clean up the mess, and may install rumble strips to try to slow down drivers. But there’s a limit to what they can do to fix a terrible mistake.

Instead of cutting car traffic through the city by investing in public transit, we squandered billions on a failed effort to cater to cars. It’s easier to get to the airport now, but otherwise the relief is minimal.

How’s that working for you, Mr. & Mrs. Commuting Taxpayer, stuck in yet another accident-related jam thanks to the Big Dig?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

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


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Jon Keller

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