The state of Massachusetts is on the brink of filing a
$100 million lawsuit against the private-sector managers of the Big Dig, the
massive underground highway through the center of Boston, The Boston Globe reported.
Just a week ago, Massachusetts officials revealed a new
defect in the Central Artery Tunnel Project, as the Big Dig is formally known,
the latest in a series of such leaks.
The Globe reported in early November that the massive
underground highway tunnel system was leaking water to the tune of 26 million
gallons a year. Engineers quoted by the newspaper say the repairs could take 10
years and involve lane closures. Engineers also found documents that the firms
in charge of construction may have known about the leaks as early as the late
The tunnel system was
designed to handle 500,000 gallons of water removal a year – about 2 percent of
the actual amount removed since last December.
The latest leak was revealed just as state and federal
highway officials were preparing to testify to state lawmakers about the
problems and the leaks they have caused.
One of those officials, Debra S. Ritt, assistant inspector
general for Surface and Maritime Programs at the U.S. Department of
Transportation, told lawmakers, “the Authority has reported that 700 tunnel leaks remain in the
project’s current inventory, and that the earlier number of leaks it identified
and tracked was considerably more. Authority officials have said some of the
leaks are a normal part of the construction process, while others are
construction deficiencies. It is already clear that the Sept. 15th leak was not a normal occurrence.”
is much about this problem that we do not yet know, including how many leaks
there are and their severity; how much it will cost to fix the leaks,” Ritt
said in prepared remarks posted on the Internet by the Office of the Inspector
The Big Dig was the largest
construction project of its kind in U.S. history. It was created to take the
elevated interstates that once ran into the center of Boston and replace them
with wider, higher-capacity underground highways, including new tunnels and
bridges to carry traffic over and under the city’s waterways. The Big Dig
carries portions of several highways, including Interstate 93 and I-90.