By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More Big Dig problems you don’t have to worry about

State officials want you to know that there is absolutely no reason for you to worry about the massive sinkhole that’s been discovered beneath a portion of the Big Dig. As a public service, Media Nation wants to remind you of other Big Dig problems — just teeny little glitches when you think about it — that you also don’t have to worry about:

  • Corroded 110-pound light fixtures that could fall on your car while you’re driving through, but that have been supposedly fixed. What? Sounds dangerous? Why, state transportation secretary Jeffrey Mullan didn’t even think it was necessary to tell Gov. Deval Patrick. Mullan is now leaving state government because he didn’t get a raise.
  • Leaks so extensive that they are beginning to damage the steel girders that support the Tip O’Neill Tunnel. Oops — sorry to sound like an alarmist. Our leaders want you to know that the leaks are the equivalent of the water that comes of “three garden hoses.” How can something you use to water your lawn possibly be dangerous?
  • Crashing three-ton ceiling panels of the sort that killed Milena Del Valle in 2006 as she and her husband were driving to Logan Airport. Again, no problems — they’re using better glue now or something.
If there are any other Big Dig problems that you absolutely, positively don’t have to worry about, please add them in the comments. Those are just the ones I could come up with off the top of my head.

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19 Comments

  1. Mark Garfinkel

    Don’t forget the outrageously sharp and ill designed railings that have
    already sliced and diced a number of motorcycle drivers and drivers lucky enough to survive an ejection accident only to hit these raili
    ngs.

  2. When I heard about the sinkhole this morning, I was happy all over again to be car-free. The happiness dissipated as soon as I remembered that the Big Dig has made Boston look like a Big Joke for the last two decades.

  3. Michael Wyatt

    Deb, you may be carless, but ever take a cab or a bus to the airport? Don’t remember a separate tunnel system being built for public transportation.

    Looks like back to the Sumner/Callahan tunnels. At least they’ve held up over tiem.

  4. Actually, I’m all about the Blue Line when I need the Airport.

  5. Jim Morrison

    How about not worrying the initial estimate exceeding $3 billion. Final price tag? Closer to $15billion.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Jim: Much as I hate to defend state officials, the $3 billion was really for a very different and much smaller project. By the time the current project was designed, it was up to $7 or $8 billion. And yes, there was still time to pull the plug.

  6. Aaron Read

    It does vaguely amaze me that no terrorist group…foreign or domestic…has assembled a car bomb, driven it into the Big Dig tunnel, and detonated it. That tunnel has to be so fragile at this point that it’d totally collapse and flood within seconds. And you’d completely destroy any concept of vehicular traffic functioning in the city of Boston for years, if not decades.

    I’m no structural engineer, but one would think it wouldn’t take a terribly large bomb, either. Something on the order of the relatively recent would-be Times Square bomb, maybe?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: Hell, a cherry bomb would probably do it.

  7. Michael Wyatt

    Aaron, think a target has to be viewed as invulnerable to make an impact. If someone pulled a stunt int the Big Dig don’t think many would consider it a terrorist act as noone would believe that it didn’t fall apart on its own.

  8. C.E. Stead

    Why, I have something not to worry about DK!

    Under Patrick’s Transportation ‘Reform’, all the state transit agencies were taken off the books. The MassDOT board – Mass Pike 2.0 – now runs all the transportation independent of the Executive and Legislative.

    If you think Patrick can fire or replace anybody, just ask Mitt how he did trying to fire Matt Amorello, or Jane how she did getting rid of Christy Mihos. At the time, the SJC said that the governor would eventually have enough apppointments (minions?) to enforce policy, but then again, there’s no need for them to listen to the Executive once they are apppointed.

    And of course, the bill also moved MassDOT ‘off the books’ to the bond-only budget funding that Carla Howell compains about that ‘doesn’t exist’. Check the state budget – there are no longer appropriation lines for transportation, so the Legislature can’t starve them into submission either.

    But we don’t need to worry that our planes. trains and automobiles are all under the authority of an appointed board with financial independence that doesn’t actually have to respond to public inquiry unless they feel like it. Heck, they aren’t even under the purview of the State Auditor, so they MUST knwo what they’re doing!

    What, we worry?

  9. Aaron Read

    @Dan: In the right place, quite possibly it could. Water transmits shock waves surprisingly well, and there’s a lot of water where there shouldn’t be water in the Big Dig already.

    @Michael: If that thinking is truly the terrorist mindset then no wonder they’ve been so ineffective against the USA. It’s not about making vulnerable something that’s seemingly invulnerable, it’s about creating chaos in a way that’s expensive to create order in. Think in terms of how expensive the TSA is, and yet it’s just as useless as airline security was before. (moreso, probably)

    If the Big Dig tunnel collapses, the effect on the economy of Boston…and by expansion, all of Massachusetts…will be catastrophic. Worker productivity will plummet. Cost of transporting goods will skyrocket. Even housing costs will rise as it becomes less and less feasible to commute in from long distances away. And that’s not including the untold billions that will inevitably be spent to create some sort of replacement…nor the problems with the rest of Mass’s crumbling roadway infrastructure that will quickly be brought into stark relief from much higher use.

  10. Michael Wyatt

    @Aaron: not trying to minimize your point at all. Would certainly be catastrophic for Boston and surrounding area. Just trying to make the semi-humorist point that half of MA wouldn’t actually consider it a terrorist act as the considered opinion was that the tunnel just collapsed on its own volition.

  11. Once again, the guy who paraded around Boston with the “Build the BB” – that Boston bypass, a highway around the city instead of the Big Dig – is looking like a total hero.

  12. C.E. Stead

    @ – Michael W. – In the words of Herman Cain, “America has got to learn how to take a joke.”

    • Dan Kennedy

      Everybody’s falling in love with Herman Cain. Has anyone ever actually eaten at Godfather Pizza? I’ve heard it sucks.

      • Dan Kennedy

        And if pizza were a qualification for the presidency, I’d get the owner of Modern Apizza in New Haven to run.

  13. C.E. Stead

    DK – I’ve SEEN one, somplace in New Hampshire, but I’ve never seen any others in New England. So hard to judge the pizza quality.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @C.E.: New Hampshire has always been infamous for its crappy pizza.

  14. Mike Rice

    So much for “new and improved.” What’s next?

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