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Project on Government Oversight




POGO Calls for Federal Investigation of the “Big Dig”

July 11, 2006 


The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is distressed to learn of the tragic death that occurred Monday night when a three-ton concrete ceiling panel fell on a passing car, killing a passenger and causing the driver to escape through a window.

“This news is saddening and an unnecessary tragedy," stated Scott Amey, POGO’s general counsel. “For years we heard about cost overruns, leaking tunnels, and a 135-count indictment against six contractors who allegedly schemed to provide concrete to the Big Dig that did not meet specifications. This kind of tragedy might have been prevented if the federal government had adequately monitored this project.”

Known as the most expensive public highway project in U.S. history, Boston ’s Central Artery Tunnel Project replaced 7.5 miles of above-ground highway with a series of tunnels to better link the Massachusetts Turnpike to the Boston and Logan Airport .

The Big Dig’s price tag escalated from $2.5 billion to $14.6 billion—largely federally funded—and ran eight years behind schedule, but today’s news that it has taken the life of a motorist is the worst example of the highway project’s shoddy record.

“This combination of facts should have shut down the most suspect tunnels until federal engineers conducted a top to bottom review of the structural integrity and federal oversight of this never ending boondoggle,” Amey added.

As a result, POGO is calling on the federal government to exercise its responsibility to investigate this project. Congress held a hearing in April 2005 and a Department of Transportation report issued that year claimed that the tunnels were safe and structurally sound and remained safe for traffic.  The report, however, recommended that work continue with inspections and repairs to put a stop to any and all leaks as soon as possible.

"Many unfulfilled promises have been made since the mid-1990s when this project took off with little, or no, federal involvement and the Big Dig was considered an interstate highway grant project,” Amey noted. “Now we’re all paying for that lack of adequate oversight."

For more information on the Big Dig, please visit:

POGO’s "No Light At the End Of This Tunnel: Boston 's Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project" (1995)

Federal Highway Administration leaks report – "FHWA Tunnel Leak Assessment Boston Central Artery Interim Report," March 23, 2005

House Government Reform Hearing – -count indictment of concrete contractors.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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