U.S. attorney investigating the Big Dig

| 12/22/2004

The Boston Herald reported today that the Big Dig, Boston’s massive interstate tunnel project, is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

A source told the newspaper that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is officially looking into construction spending on the project, which was the largest construction project of its kind in U.S. history.

The Big Dig 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.

The project included numerous, massive cost overruns, and the private concerns in charge of the work have drawn the ire of local, state and federal officials.

News of the investigation comes just a few days after Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, angered by hundreds of leaks in the Big Dig tunnels and lagging cost-recovery efforts, filed legislation to create an independent commission with expanded legal powers to go after contractors responsible for millions of dollars in mistakes.

Meanwhile, state officials continue to struggle with literally hundreds of leaks in the projects tunnels that have come to light in recent months. The leaks are so prevalent that the tunnel is handling dozens of times the amount of water it was designed to deal with.

The Boston Globe reported Dec. 10 that six more sections of the tunnel had the type of defect that led to previous leaks. The leaks have become such an issue that, according to a report in The Globe earlier this month, the state of Massachusetts has plans to file a $100 million lawsuit against the private-sector managers of the Big Dig.