D’oh! $15B, and the Big Dig Leaks

I sold the heavy-duty steel pipe one of the subcontractors used to brace this tunnel during the dig, which is the biggest highway project in American history:

BOSTON – The Big Dig is riddled with leaks that are dumping millions of gallons of water into the $14.6 billion tunnel system, according to an engineer hired to investigate the cause of a massive leak in September.

Locating and fixing the hundreds of leaks could take up to 10 years, said Jack K. Lemley, a consultant hired by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to investigate the problem.

“There is no public safety issue,” Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello said Wednesday, adding that the tunnels remain structurally sound, and the drainage system is keeping water off the roadways.

Lemley told The Boston Globe that repairing September’s leak alone would require two months and lane closures. But Amorello said that taxpayers and motorists who pay tolls will not foot the bill for repairs.

Lemley’s team also found documents showing that managers of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the private consortium that managed the project, were aware that the wall breached this fall was faulty when it was built in the late 1990s, but did not order it replaced and did not notify state officials.

Retired judge Edward M. Ginsburg, leader of a state-appointed team reviewing overcharges by Big Dig contractors, said he has spoken to Attorney General Tom Reilly about filing a lawsuit targeting Bechtel and Modern Continental, the contractor that built the wall section that leaked in September.

“I can honestly say we were shocked,” Ginsburg told the Globe. “I can assure you we’re going to make sure there is a thorough investigation.”

Turnpike Authority member Jordan Levy promised to make the contractors pay for repairing the leaks.

“I’m outraged and dismayed at the quality of some of this work,” he said. “We are not going to let anyone off the mat.

“If there was a cover-up involved in this, I would expect the attorney general would bring this before a grand jury to determine if there is criminal intent here,” he said.

Levy said either the Bechtel project was incompetent or there was “malfeasance at the highest level.”

“I don’t think they’re stupid,” he said.

See, now if they’d specified the non-leaky pipe…

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