Big Dig (Boston, Massachusetts)

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The Big Dig is the unofficial name of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T), a megaproject in Boston that rerouted the Central Artery (Interstate 93), the chief highway through the heart of the city, into a 3.5-mile (5.6-km) tunnel. The project also included the construction of the Ted Williams Tunnel (extending Interstate 90 to Logan International Airport), the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge over the Charles River, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the space vacated by the previous I-93 elevated roadway. Initially, the plan was also to include a rail connection between Boston's two major train terminals. The project concluded on December 31, 2007, when the partnership between program manager Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority ended.[1]

The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the U.S.[2] Although the project was estimated in 1985 at $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006),[3] over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars)[3] had been spent in federal and state tax dollars as of 2006.[4] A July 17, 2008 article in The Boston Globe stated, "In all, the project will cost an additional $7 billion in interest, bringing the total to a staggering $22 billion, according to a Globe review of hundreds of pages of state documents. It will not be paid off until 2038."[5] At the beginning of the project, Congressman Barney Frank joked, "Wouldn't it be cheaper to raise the city than depress the artery?"[6] The project has incurred criminal arrests,[7][8] escalating costs, death, leaks, and charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly demanded that contractors refund taxpayers $108 million for "shoddy work".[9] On January 23, 2008, it was reported that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consortium that oversaw the project, would pay $407 million in restitution for its poor oversight of subcontractors (some of whom committed outright fraud), as well as primary responsibility in the death of a motorist. However, despite admitting to poor oversight and negligence as part of the settlement,[10] the firm is not barred from bidding for future government contracts. Several smaller companies agreed to pay a combined sum of approximately $51 million.[11]

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