Hiller Instinct: Big Dig
The Hiller Instinct: Hiller Instinct: Big Dig
For twenty years, public officials have over-promised and under-performed, enabling contractors to bust every budget, and now, to threaten our safety.
Go back to 1985...when Boston's central artery was congested - above ground - and the state still had clout in congress.
Planners envisioned a network of roads and tunnels to ease traffic, with construction anticipated to begin in 1990 and finish in 1998.
Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill spoke in favor of Washington spending more than $2 billion to help pay for the Big Dig.
"We're doing everything we possibly can on the central artery," OíNeill said. "It's something really we're entitled to."
Originally slated to cost $2.6 billion, the price is now $14.6 billion, more than five times higher.
And Washington, once ready to pay ninety percent of the bill, has capped its costs at about sixty percent.
But when demolition for the project began in 1990, powerful local politicians like Billy Bulger made cost overruns or shoddy construction sound impossible.
"We see a well planned approach to this," Bulger said. "It means about 15,000 jobs."
On Beacon Hill, governor after governor bowed down to the big dig.
"While it's a complicated project, it's one which I think has made substantial progress," Governor Dukakis said.
"The artery tunnel project is an investment in New England that's gonna pay dividends for decades to come," Cellucci said. "This is an engineering marvel."
But marvels don't leak, and the Big Dig does. So now there's a new nightmare, once limited to movies.
Itís all made the Big Dig a big joke, and the joke's on us.
"You should turn the big dig over to the department of conservation and recreation," Dimasi said. "That way, my community could have a swimming pool in the summertime and a skating rink in the summertime."
The embattled Big Dig boss denies any danger.
"The I-93 tunnels are safe and structurally sound," Amorello said.
But he can't deny the truth of what the man who had his job five years ago said:
"We have to have the kind of trust that when we say something, people will believe it, and they don't do that now."
Conclusion: you don't need tunnel vision to be cynical about the Big Dig. And you don't have to be a cynic to worry the worst is yet to come.
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