Tuesday, July 11, 2006


What does $15 billion of Massachusetts politics and federal government engineering buy?

Sadly, at least one death.

The official celebration of the "completion" of the Big Dig project was just two months ago, and already the tunnel has claimed a life. A 38-year-old woman was crushed by a three-ton ceiling tile falling on her car last night on the eastbound lane of the Mass Pike driving near in one of the Big Dig tunnels. Her husband had to climb out of the ruble to safety.

A few ceiling tiles falling is an accident and one death is a tragedy. But the Big Dig's continuing problems are utterly criminal and indefensible.

The original project was supposed to cost $2.5 billion. It will end up costing 500% more. One of the tunnel walls cracked in 2004 and seawater came pouring in, one of more than 1,000 leaks found by an audit in 2001. It's currently "seeping" a million gallons of water a month. Debris has been falling on drivers, and now, a ceiling collapse has killed someone.

If we had pinched pennies on this project, these tragedies would be quiet so maddening. But for a wildly expensive project with plenty of money budgeted for Massachusetts graft and corruption, the taxpayers deserve better.

We paid for a Ferrari. We got a Ford Escort. Somebody needs to go to jail. This is, at best, negligent homicide.