Big Dig – Problems Mount

Following up on previous posts about the Big Dig and all the problems inspectors are finding, there is news that engineers are trying out a fix to some of the problems. It seems that the existing system is using bolts embedded in an epoxy. Unfortunately, the bolts are pulling out at much less than design load. That would indicate that this has been an accident waiting to happen for a while now. Mitt Romney, the Governor, has started proceedings to remove the head of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. (Who should frankly have the decency to resign and save everyone the trouble.)

BOSTON – Engineers tested a plan to reinforce the heavy concrete ceiling tiles in Boston's Big Dig highway tunnels and started working on a design Tuesday to put the back-up system in place.

With crews working around the clock, Gov. Mitt Romney said at least one portion of the two tunnels that have been closed since last week's deadly collapse could reopen by late in the weekend.

Romney, who seized control of the inspection process last week, ordered the reinforcement work after testing in the two tunnels revealed problems with more than 1,100 bolt assemblies that used epoxy.

"In grabbing ahold of these bolts and pulling on them with excess force, they're letting go … at lower pressures than they were designed to handle," Romney said Monday. "That suggests that this epoxy system is not working."

The two Big Dig tunnels have been closed for inspections and repairs since July 10, when Milena Del Valle was crushed in the Interstate 90 connector, part of a main route to Boston's Logan Airport.

Romney, a Republican considering a bid for president in 2008, has said he was concerned about the tunnel closures' impact on traffic, business and tourism. He said it could be two weeks before the entire closed-down section reopens.

The $14.6 billion Big Dig highway project, the most expensive in U.S. history, buried much of the city's highway network in tunnels. It took over a decade starting in the early 1990s to complete and has since been plagued by leaks, falling debris, cost overruns, delays and problems linked to faulty construction.

Last week, the governor started formal proceedings in a bid to oust the chairman and chief executive of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Matthew Amorello, whose agency oversaw the highway project.

Amorello was given a list of charges against him Tuesday, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. A formal hearing, set for July 27, will be closed and the charges will remain private, he said.

Earlier posts: Here, here, here, here and here.

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2 Responses to Big Dig – Problems Mount

  1. Paul B says:

    I was stationed in Boston with the Coast Guard in ’92 and the problem then was the harbor bottom they were dredging up was too toxic to put anywhere humans or animals might venture. I think they had to truck it away somewhere, and the cost begins to rise…

  2. Gaius says:

    I think they are going to keep finding problems for a while. A few billion here, a few there. Pretty soon you’re talking real money.

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