26 December 2007

Sixteen Years Later, Boston's Big Dig Done

As the December sun sets on Tommy O'Neill's tunnel and the clock expires on 2007, The Hub will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in it's history: The Big Dig, the nation's most complex and costly highway project, will officially come to an end. Some 16 years since construction began in 1991.

Don't expect any champagne toasts.

After a history marked by engineering triumphs, as well as tunnel leaks, epic traffic jams, last year's death of a motorist crushed by concrete ceiling panels and a price tag that soared from $2.6 billion to a staggering $14.8 billion!, there's little appetite for celebration in the City of Notions.

Civil and criminal cases stemming from the July 2006 tunnel ceiling collapse continue. Other lawsuits are pending against various Big Dig contractors, and Powers Fasteners still faces a manslaughter indictment for their faulty tile glue.

December 31 will mark the official end of the joint venture that teamed megaproject contractor Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to build the dizzying labyrinth of underground highways, bridges, ramps and a new tunnel under Boston Harbour — all while the city remained open for business.

The project was so complex, it has been likened to performing open-heart surgery on a wide-awake patient. Some Beantown residents didn't know if they would live to see it end.

R.I.P., Del Valle

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