Concrete company to settle Big Dig lawsuit for $42 million

| 7/27/2007

The company accused of supplying substandard concrete to the Big Dig tunnels under Boston will pay the state a reported $42 million to settle the case.

Aggregate Industries NE Inc., accused by state and federal prosecutors of supplying 5,000 truckloads of watered-down concrete to the nearly $15 billion public works project, planned to settle on Friday, July 27, according to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.

The Boston Globe reported the settlement amount was $42 million.

Concrete from Aggregate Industries comprised only 1.2 percent of the concrete used in the Central Artery Tunnel Project, according to the 135-count indictment against the company filed in May 2006. One woman was crushed by tons of falling material June 10, 2006, in the Interstate 90 Connector.

The settlement ends the case against the company, but six members of Aggregate Industries’ management team still face charges as individuals.

Ongoing problems and leaks continue to plague the tunnel system, which reportedly leaks 1.9 million gallons per month.

Two-thirds of the settlement money from the Aggregate case will fund tunnel repairs, the Globe reported.

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, who took office as turnpike chairman July 1, recently called for a $1.2-million independent review to study leaks and determine who should pay for further repairs.

The turnpike authority’s largest contractor for the project, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, may have to pay up to $1 billion to settle claims in the fatal roof collapse, the Globe reported.

The Big Dig project carries about $2 billion in debt, according to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Board of Directors. Toll increases to offset deficits are scheduled to begin in 2008.

– By David Tanner, staff writer