Shocking Article On The Big Dig

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It's shocking because it is from the AP and it is not a thinly disguised political hit piece, like the Washington Post ran a few days ago. It actually points to the bureaucratic failures instead of trying to pin it on "Republican governors".

BOSTON – When Boston's Big Dig was still on the drawing board, state and federal transportation officials picked an engineering powerhouse and a smaller, well-established firm to build the forbiddingly complex tangle of tunnels, ramps, bridges and highways.

And then, critics say, the officials stepped back and let the two companies do their job with little or no oversight.

In the weeks since 12 tons of ceiling panels from a Big Dig tunnel fell, crushing a woman to death in a car, critics say one of the key flaws in the project was the way it was managed.

Bechtel Civil Inc., part of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., teamed up with the design firm of Parsons, Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas Inc. to work on the project, starting in 1985. The consortium was known as Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

"It's been the fox guarding the hen house," said Sen. Steven Baddour, chairman of the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee. "They are the only entity that has been with the project from the very beginning, and they've skated."

The $14.6 billion Big Dig, the most expensive highway project in U.S. history, has been plagued by delays, cost overruns, leaks, falling debris and allegations of shoddy workmanship and inferior materials.

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff has largely avoided blame, despite occasional talk among state officials to ban it from other projects.

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff required that questions for this story be submitted in writing so they could be reviewed by its attorneys. Nearly a week later, the company still had not provided a response.

Considering the size and number of lawsuits they almost certainly will be defending themselves from, it's not at all surprising they do not want to talk to the press. Read the whole thing if you're interested in seeing how a bureaucracy can fail to provide adequate oversight. Kudos to the reporter, Steve LeBlanc, for playing it straight and not turning it into a hit piece.

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