Big Dig fiasco heads to courts, legislature

| Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As investigations and repairs at Boston’s Big Dig continued following a July 10 ceiling collapse that left one woman dead, Gov. Mitt Romney stepped up his efforts to remove the director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, July 19, that Romney announced he had served Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello with written allegations of mismanagement.

Meanwhile, three Turnpike Authority board members have sued Amorello, claiming that he tried to strip the board of its power and take complete control of the authority’s operations.

A hearing on those charges has been set for July 26. A separate hearing called by Gov. Romney to determine whether or not to remove Amorello from office has also been scheduled for July 27.

At the federal level, The AP reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General is going to step in and oversee investigations currently being conducted by the Federal Highway Administration and other government agencies.

At the state level, lawmakers proposed a bill that would create a seven-member board with subpoena powers that would investigate corruption and safety violations by contractors and government officials involved in the Big Dig.

Two sections of the Big Dig project remained closed on Wednesday, July 19, as repairs continued. The section of Interstate 90 where the collapse occurred, which connects Interstate 93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel, is still closed indefinitely, though the portion of the tunnel leading to Logan Airport is still open.

A second part of the tunnel, a mile-long ramp that connects Interstate 90 west with Interstate 93 north and south was shut down on Monday after tests on the bolts used to secure concrete panels to the ceiling showed numerous potential problems including problems with the epoxy used to hold the bolts in place, according to The AP.

The tunnel closures have brought more traffic to the surface on Boston’s streets. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has posted information on alternate routes and closures on the Big Dig Web site at masspike.com/bigdig.

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