More flaws found in Big Dig tunnel; governor seeks control of inspections

| Thursday, July 13, 2006

As news came that 60 faulty bolt fixtures had been found in the ceiling of the Big Dig tunnel near the site of a fatal collapse, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sought emergency legislation to take control.

The governor wants control of inspections and any decision to reopen the tunnel, The Associated Press reported. Romney also started legal proceedings to remove Matthew Amorello, the chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversaw the Big Dig project.

The entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel remained closed indefinitely Thursday, July 13. Several three-ton sections of concrete fell from the ceiling earlier in the week and crushed a car, killing a female passenger inside.

Faulty bolt fixtures that held in place tiebacks connected to the concrete slabs are now suspected as the cause of the collapse.

Crews were working July 13 to remove approximately 50 ceiling panels held up by the faulty bolts from the area where the collapse occurred. The section runs about 200 feet into the tunnel. The AP reported the 60 faulty bolt fixtures represent about 10 percent of all of the bolt fixtures used in that section.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly charged that contractors knew as early as 1999 that there were problems with some of the bolts that held the concrete slabs in place along the ceiling of the Interstate 90 tunnel, The AP reported.

Reilly said a plan was made at the time to address that problem, and his office is now trying to determine whether that plan was executed, according to The AP.

The $14 billion project – which buried portions of Interstates 93 and 90 beneath downtown Boston and extended the Massachusetts Turnpike to Logan Airport – has been plagued with problems for years, including leaks, faulty concrete and political scandals among those involved in its management.

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