Our decaying infrastructure that's really too young to be decaying: Big Dig light fixture hanging by a threadBy adamg - 8/14/12 - 10:33 am
UPDATE: State officials are blaming an "oversize truck" for taking out one of those lane-marker things, BostInno reports - so yes, it's always September in the O'Neill Tunnel.
Somewhere in the back of the mind is a vague memory of state officials promising to do something about all the Big Dig light fixtures held up by library paste or paper clips or something. Jason Porter managed to take a picture in the northbound tunnel this morning that suggests they missed at least one.
Harm caused to the Big Dig by two concrete-company executives who ordered workers to deliver substandard concrete was nowhere near as bad as prosecutors charged, a federal appeals court said today in upholding a judge sentencing them only to probation and community service.
A day after we learned the alleged final cost of the Big Dig, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled the way the then turnpike authority shifted toll revenues to Big Dig construction costs was perfectly legal.
A bunch of turnpike commuters had challenged the money shifting, arguing it amounted to an unconstitutional tax, because they were paying for a new road system they might not use.
Au contraire, the state's highest court ruled: It didn't think the use of turnpike money on the Big Dig was a tax, but even if it were, the fact that the legislature approved it made it OK
Because we conclude that the tolls collected by the authority on the MHS were fees, and because we conclude that they would still be constitutional excise taxes even if they were taxes, we affirm the dismissal of the plaintiffs' State constitutional claims.
The true, final (well, so far) cost of the Big Dig is:
Stand on the Summer Street Bridge and look toward South Boston, and Fort Point Channel looks like a long rectangle, ending in a wall just past the Gillette plant.
In fact, the channel continues for a few more blocks, as a narrower drainage channel, ending at the Boston Water and Sewage Commission Wet Weather Sewage Discharge Outfall Number 70.
You can stroll the Harbor Walk to what looks like the end of Fort Point Channel and admire the re-painted remains of a giant train bridge that crossed there before the Ted Williams Tunnel remade that area (and from which you can still watch the trains arriving at and departing from South Station):
No, not the Green Line extension. NorthEndWaterfront.com reports the Boston Conservation Commission is wagging its collective finger at the state over the continued non-existence of a usable dock at Atlantic Wharf on Fort Point Channel, despite a state promise to have one built as part of mitigation for the Big Dig.
But not because it was held up with rusty paper clips but because a car on the top level of a car carrier knocked into a bunch of light fixtures, the Globe reports. And isn't it nice to see that Big Dig designers paid homage to Storrow Drive by designing a tunnel with height restrictions?
The Globe reports frozen dirt under a section of the Big Dig is thawing out faster than expected, causing a cavern down there that is filling up with water.
Yes, of course there's thawing frozen dirt - engineers froze the dirt to make it easier to put in tunnel segments. State officials say nothing to worry about - the segment will act like a bridge if the underground lake gets too big - and no need to ask for legal help from an unfrozen caveman lawyer.
The Globe gets a copy of an engineer's report on continuing water problems in the tunnels, such as a design flaw that's leading to cracks that let in water. Will require expensive repairs, natch.
$150,000 salary, not Big Dig lighting fixtures, might be too much of a strain for state transportation czar to handleBy adamg - 7/14/11 - 4:02 pm
The Globe reports Jeffrey Mullan will depart as state transportation secretary this fall because he needs to make more money, not because of any concerns over his handling of Big Dig safety issues.
Mullan, however, issued a statement after the Globe report came out:
Reports of my departure as Secretary of Transportation this fall are premature.
In May, I discussed with the Governor my intention to transition from the administration within the year for personal reasons. However, we made no final decisions regarding my future at that time. While I still intend to transition out this year, I have made no final plans. I am fully engaged in the role of Secretary and CEO at MassDOT and look forward to leading the organization in the weeks and months ahead.
Mullan presided over the amalgamation of a variety of formerly independent state departments and authorities into a single Department of Transportation.
Boston firefighters spent two hours early this morning getting a state transportation worker out of a shaft connected to the Ted Williams Tunnel.
According to the Boston Fire Department, the worker plunged 20 feet down a shaft into a pool of sludge around 1 a.m.
Using ropes and pulleys, firefighters lifted the worker out after about 2 hours in the hole. He was washed down as part of a decon.
The worker was taken to Mass. General. The department says the firefighters who rescued him were not the same ones who rescued an MBTA worker at the bottom of a shaft last week.
The Globe reports MassDOT Secretary Jeff Mullan, who previously said he didn't tell the governor or the public about crashing, corroding Big Dig light fixtures to let his underlings get to the bottom of the problem, now says what really happened is that those underlings didn't tell him about the problem for a month.
The Globe reports the latest on the plummeting light fixture in the Big Dig: Transportation officials withheld news for a month and it turns out the "stem to stern" investigation ordered by the Romney administration didn't include actually disassembling any of the fixtures to see if they were rotting from within, which, it turns out, some were.
After one of the 110-lb. fixtures plunged to the roadway last month, the Herald reports.
No, not the Big Dig and the Greenway. The dam at the mouth of the Charles River. Eric Papetti draws the parallel between that Big Dig of the turn of the century (the 20th century, that is), with today's big turn-of-the-century project. He quotes from Karl Haglund's Inventing the Charles River:
As a public open space, however, many people declared the basin a failure. "It is, indeed, a wondrous picture - of still life. The breathing space is there, plenty of it, the broad sheet of almost currentless water is there, but the people - where are they? They are not there." ... Although the lower Charles was a "scenic and sanitary triumph, it failed to live up to expectations as a water park." ... For a number of Bostonians, the water park was a great disappointment.
Baker owns up to just 10% of the Big Dig financing plan.
The New Center for Arts and Culture is the latest in a string of institutions to pull out of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Globe reports. Apparently, backers were able to raise just a quarter of the $80 million in projected costs. It joins the Horticultural Society's Garden under the Glass and the first proposal for the Boston Museum on the scrapheap. The second bid from the Boston Museum backers, which would require $120 million, and the proposed new YMCA are officially alive, but have shown no apparent ability to raise the necessary funds.
Perhaps this would be a good moment for the city to step back, take a deep breath, and rethink the entire Greenway scheme.
The Globe documents the death of seven motorists - "most of them gruesomely dismembered" - due to the railings intended to keep maintenance workers from falling into traffic.
Warns it will shut down tunnels, highways it controls inside 128 if anti-toll people get a restraining order in court today. You know, like the entire Big Dig complex.
$15 billion and what do you get? A tunnel that's already too small for some trucks, that's what. The Globe reports the driver of a bigger than big rig smashed into an overhead sign in the Ted Williams Tunnel, then just kept going, at least, until some staties caught up with him on the Expressway in Dorchester.
Kevin Cullen does a nice job explaining how a company that paid a $50-million fine for supplying substandard concrete for the Big Dig is now getting state road contracts again.
This time it's from a group of motorists who want the return of all money the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has funneled to the Big Dig, Blue Mass. Group reports. The Massachusetts Turnpike Equity Trust says:
We have organized a trust approved by the Middlesex Probate Court that is open to any MassPike toll payer who has paid tolls at Route 128, Allston/Brighton, Sumner/Callahan Tunnels, or the Ted Williams Tunnel. We are trying to remedy and change the unfair toll collection policies of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority documents indicate that up to 58 cents of every dollar collected on the Boston Extension (from route 128 into Boston), and the Sumner/Callahan and Ted Williams tunnels is unlawfully diverted to pay for the Central Artery project ("Big Dig"). We toll payers are fed up with our toll monies being diverted unfairly to pay for the costs associated with the "Big Dig" - an unlawful tax that has unfairly burdened toll payers and bankrupted the Turnpike Authority. We urge other toll payers to join us in our fight for the return of our unlawfully expropriated toll monies.
Their lawyer is Jan Schlichtman, the guy who led the Woburn toxic-chemicals-in-the-water lawsuit.