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: Body Of Missing Swimmer Recovered From Hyde Park Pond
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: 'It's Really Disturbing': Harvard Student In Surfside, Florida Describes Scene Of Building Collapse
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.MORE NEWS: 'Our Roads Need Attention Now': Attleboro Official Says State Can't Afford 2 Month Sales Tax Holiday
Listen to Jon’s commentary: