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Archive for Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Boston fleece party

December 5, 2000

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Anyone who has visited Boston and had to go into the heart of the city is aware of what a maelstrom the trip can be, particularly if one is a driver rather than a passenger. Even experienced drivers fear the worst every time they enter the area.

For a long time, there has been a massive project of underground routes seeking to solve many of the city's transportation problems. Apparently it has evolved into as terrible a mess as the original system. Further, the cost of the vast effort has more than doubled during construction.

Says a recent Associated Press news report from Boston: "Federal officials have approved a nearly $14.1 billion (that's billion) funding plan for The Big Dig, closing a chapter on a fiscal debacle that has led to firings and criminal probes of the massive highway project."

Originally the venture was due to cost no more than $7 billion. Some optimists said during the planning stage it would not even run that high. But expenses kept growing, and now the federal contribution (our dollars, by the way) is pushing $9 billion, not to mention state and local funding costs.

Known officially as the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project, the Big Dig is designed to bury three miles of Interstate 93 beneath downtown Boston. It has become one of the most complicated and expensive road projects in American history. Experts say the price is sure to push well beyond $15 billion, perhaps even reach $20 billion.

Changes have been made, promises thrown out, people fired and all sorts of bail-outs tried. But still the money-gulping monster grows.

One can't help wondering just how effective the Big Dig will be even when it is completed and just how many people will wind up in prison because of their mishandling and theft in connection with the job.

There is no limit, it seems, to the way government ventures can get out of hand despite the best of intentions. Even Bostonians accustomed to periodic political chicanery agree this is the most horrible situation of its kind they have ever seen.

Worse, they aren't convinced the Big Dig will do what it is supposed to do when it finally is finished whenever that is. So far, everyone is afraid to predict a completion date, and that means even more billions from the public till.

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