Groups question Capka's involvement in Big Dig investigation

| 7/24/2006

As the investigation into a July 10 collapse in one of the tunnels of Boston’s Big Dig entered its third week, watchdog groups and Massachusetts politicians were questioning the involvement of Federal Highway Administrator J. Richard Capka.

The Associated Press reported that citizen watchdog group the Center for Public Integrity called for Capka – who oversaw the Big Dig for 18 months until his dismissal in 2002 – to recuse himself from the current investigation.

“This smacks of having the coach of the team referee the game,” Wendell Rawls, acting executive director of CPI, told The AP.

Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, and watchdog group the Project for Government Oversight were also among those calling for Capka to recuse himself, according to The AP.

“It needs to be an investigation that no one can question,” Kerry said.

Brian Keeter, a spokesman for the FHWA, told The AP that, although Capka has not recused himself, he is not directly involved in the investigation.

In related news, a poll published in The Boston Globe found that 68 percent of those surveyed would feel “not very” or “not at all” safe driving through the Big Dig tunnels in the wake of the collapse that left one woman dead.

The survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, also found that 69 percent of respondents said they would either “definitely” or “try to” change their driving patterns to avoid Big Dig tunnels.