WaPo On The Big Dig Problems

The Washington Post has a story about the problems with the Boston Big Dig project. There has been a long history of warnings about the project. One thing the Post does is extremely dishonest though, they cast blame on "a series of Republican governors". That's really a false assertion, since the Turnpike Authority is an independent organization. Witness the difficulty Mitt Romney is having just getting rid of the current head of the Authority. The Post also gives the legislature a pass, a very disingenuous move.

Yet according to officials, government documents and people who shaped the project over the years, the Big Dig has not gone awry because its flaws were unknown. It has gone awry in spite of repeated warnings about its cost and design.

"It was nothing but problem after problem, and no one was looking, no one cared," said A. Joseph DeNucci, Massachusetts's longtime state auditor, whose office has since 1993 issued 20 critical reports about the Big Dig. "I get sick when I think about it."

In addition to the auditor's work, there were 13 negative reports during the project's first decade by the state inspector general. More recently, there have been hearings in Congress and the state legislature, and financial reviews by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"This has been the most investigated project in our history," said James A. Aloisi Jr., a former assistant state transportation secretary and general counsel to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

The warnings were overshadowed, many officials now acknowledge, by zeal among politicians, business leaders, lobbyists and private contractors who had a stake in the project. That eagerness to move forward coincided with a political culture in which a series of Republican governors and the state's independent turnpike authority have trusted a private consultant to shepherd virtually every facet of the project, with relatively little government supervision. "What was missing from the whole project was outside oversight," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D).

The story details several supposed transgressions by past governors but says nothing whatsoever about the other politicians who also failed to exercise any kind of oversight. And the las part of the article shows what the real problem is:

Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who is trying to force Amorello from his job, portrays him as secretive and uncooperative. "That the largest public works project in the country would have no accountability to any public official is nuts," Romney said in an interview.

Half a dozen state and federal investigations are looking into corruption, costs and construction methods.

Noting those investigations, Bechtel officials declined to comment.

No matter what is found now, Cerasoli, the former inspector general, said: "It'll never be made right. Too much money has been spent, and no one will be able to recapture the life that is lost."

'Authorities' are notoriously hard to control since they operate independently from the elected government. I rather suspect that is the source of the real problem, not the governors. Too bad the Post is playing politics instead of playing it straight on this one.

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3 Responses to WaPo On The Big Dig Problems

  1. K T Cat says:

    This illustrates the ignorance of the press. It isn’t a political issue, it’s a bureaucratic one. When the contracts were let, they must not have included sufficient validation of the design and building materials. It’s not like the politicians on either side were down at the job site every day making sure there was enough aggregate in the mix before it was poured.

    By the way, you’ve got a new title. Stop by my blog and check it out.

  2. Gaius says:

    Heh. Just so there is no shedding!

  3. Pingback: Blue Crab Boulevard » Blog Archive » Shocking Article On The Big Dig

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