Big Crumble update (part VI)

| July 25, 2006

The Big Dig Crumble news cycle keeps churning away….

MTA Chair Matt Amorello has filed a lawsuit to keep Gov. Romney from forcing his resignation. On the other hand, the other MTA board members had already filed suit against Amorello:

Romney loyalists on the turnpike board also sued Amorello, claiming he has “improperly and illegally rendered the current board powerless and has sought to transform the board into a single-person board in his image.” Amorello sought to delay a Wednesday hearing before the Supreme Judicial Court on the issue but was denied.

I previously mentioned that Amorello had sought a $85 million cap to Bechtel’s liability; it appears that the actual cap was set at $150 million, or about 1% of the Big Crumble’s actual cost:

While the cost of Big Dig tunnel repairs could balloon to hundreds of millions of dollars, the company in charge of the project is on the hook for just $150 million under a deal signed off on by four previous governors and state officials, including embattled Turnpike boss Matt Amorello.

The deal would be off, however, if investigators now probing the July 10 deadly tunnel collapse and other project failures prove that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and its subcontractors engaged in fraud, misconduct or negligence.

The controversial cap limiting Bechtel’s financial exposure to $150 million was signed off on by top transportation bosses who reported directly to former Govs. Michael S. Dukakis, William F. Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane M. Swift but was never adjusted to compensate for staggering increases in the project’s overall price tag.


The most recent extension of the deal was signed in 2001 by Amorello, who was then MassHighway commissioner, former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority chairman Andrew Natsios, former Pike lawyer Peter Pendergast and three MassHighway commissioners.


In addition to capping Bechtel’s liability at $100 million plus the state’s $50 million insurance policy, the deal clears the firm of any responsibility for costs associated with closures, loss of toll revenue or other damages connected to failures or problems on the $14.6 billion project.

A Massachusetts state legislator wants to set up a indepedent panel for a complete Big Crumble project review:

A Boston lawmaker has proposed setting up a special panel of independent experts and professionals to uncover any incompetence and possible corruption involving the construction of the Big Dig.The Emergency Investigative Review Board proposed by state Sen. Marian Walsh, D-West Roxbury, would be modeled after a commission in the 1970s that investigated corruption and incompetence in public construction in Massachusetts.

Walsh said this special panel would take a much broader look at what went wrong with the Big Dig when compared with the investigations of the July 10 fatality inside the Big Dig tunnel by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, the Romney administration and federal highway officials.

“Right now, we have no independent review with experts happening,” Walsh said. “We have the governor evaluating a project that involved his administration while he’s running for president. We also have the attorney general evaluating for criminal purposes an administration he’s running for governor against.”

Boston is largely adjusting to the reduced traffic flow through the Big Crumble:

The city’s main highway system has remained partially closed since July 10.

Two weeks after a fatal accident that led to a partial closure of Boston’s Big Dig, companies and employees in and around the city say they have adjusted reasonably well to the resulting traffic delays and detours.

While many commuters have been forced to find new ways to get to work, and concerns remain over what effect a prolonged shutdown will have on the city’s convention and tourism business, fears over the impact on business haven’t yet materialized for the most part.

“More people are looking to public transportation,” said Ashley Jones, marketing coordinator for the Beacon Hill Staffing Group, a former Inc. 500 company. Like many, Jones, who would normally drive into the city from her home in Norwood, Mass., about 23 miles southwest of Boston, has been taking the commuter rail to work instead.

“Other than traffic delays, there hasn’t been an effect on business,” she added.

And, by the way, a few more loose bolts have been found:

Three loose bolts _ one had dislodged about a half inch _ were found at the westbound entrance to the Ted Williams harbor tunnel Monday. Traffic was diverted around the questionable panel and it was shored up with a portable support device.

And that’s the latest news. Click here for a list of all Big Crumble postings to date. ..bruce..

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Category: Main, Project Management, The Big Crumble

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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