Big Dig price may be on the rise

| 12/28/2005

Boston’s Big Dig project has already racked up some big numbers in terms of costs.

And if a new U.S. Department of Transportation memo uncovered by The Boston Globe is any indication, those costs are going to get even bigger.

According to the internal memo, costs of the project could rise by as much as $75 million, which is a relatively small portion of the $14.6 billion price tag already attached to it.

The Globe reported that the increase is being driven by a number of factors, including a shortfall in the amount of money the state will recover from contractors for shoddy work; the cost of settling disputes with contractors; and other miscellaneous costs.

Mariellen Burns, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, told The Globe that the agency expects the project’s original price tag to stay put.

A spokesman for Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead downplayed the memo, saying it was meant as an internal estimate, not a final tally for the project.

If correct, the memo would represent the first increase in the Big Dig’s overall cost since 2001, according to The Globe. At that time, it was revealed that project overseers had hidden more than $2 billion in cost overruns.

And with federal funding for the project holding at $8.5 billion, any increases would have to be paid for by Massachusetts taxpayers and toll payers, The Globe reported.