DOT calls for complete review of Big Dig

| Monday, July 31, 2006

The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General has called for a complete review of the Big Dig project following a July 10 collapse of part of one of its tunnels that left a woman dead.

In a letter responding to a request from Rep. Michael Capuano, D-MA, acting inspector general Todd Zinzer said that any review of the Big Dig construction should include not just the tunnels, but everything including bridges, ramps, roadways and other systems.

“We believe a comprehensive review would necessarily encompass the entire project,” Zinzer wrote.

In addition to the physical structure, the review should focus on mechanical and electrical systems and integrated project control systems such as security and emergency response communications, Zinzer said in his letter.

He also wrote that the DOT plans to provide “independent oversight” of investigations and reviews conducted by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that a group of Massachusetts state lawmakers has sent a letter to Gov. Mitt Romney and Secretary of Transportation John Cogliano vowing to fight any proposed toll increases to pay for repairs to the Big Dig.

Though no such toll increases have been proposed, the letter states that the lawmakers are worried about the possibility and that any such increases would be “grossly unfair,” The AP reported.

The section of Interstate 90 where the collapse occurred, which connects Interstate 93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel, is still closed indefinitely.

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 July 17 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 http://www.masspike.com/bigdig.

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