BOSTON (CBS) – Some really bad memories came flooding back Monday as I read about the findings of a consultant hired by the MBTA to find out why the Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford is running up to a billion dollars over budget.
It turns out profoundly inept T officials apparently never bothered to figure out how much the project would cost, instead outsourcing control to a construction consortium named White-Skanska-Kiewit under a process that allows the price tag to be negotiated as the project is underway, placing cost control, in essence, at the whim of the contractor.READ MORE: Ashland High School Gets State Approval To Drop Mask Mandate; No 'Immediate Change' Planned
This was spun as an innovative process, although you’d hope anyone with a clue knows it’s smart to at least agree on an estimate upfront.
Something about the name Kiewit rang a bell with me, so I did what the MBTA brass should have done at the start of this fiasco – I Googled them.
Guess which previous local transit project Kiewit was associated with?
That’s right, the Big Dig.READ MORE: Child Tax Credit: October Payments Hitting Parents' Bank Accounts
Back in 2002, Kiewit and their Big Dig partners settled a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that they “knowingly overcharged the project “ and engaged in “rampant billing fraud, dangerous or shoddy tunnel work, and covering up flaws through intimidation and threats.”
But here they are again, back in business in a state with an appalling record of being taken for a ride by this kind of thing, from the Big Dig to the health care connector debacle of recent years.
As the Baker administration tries to salvage this mess, I hope they’ll be candid about the idiocies of the past and diligent about avoiding them in the future.
Because we’re all running out of patience, and money.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:MORE NEWS: FDA Panel Approves Booster Shots Of Johnson And Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine