Big Dig tunnel light incident kept from Mass. transportation chief

Mullan claims he did not know of the incident until a month later

March 24, 2011

Shedding light on the Big Dig’s latest incident is no easy task.

Back on March 17, Massachusetts’s transportation secretary Jeff Mullan said he made a mistake by not immediately informing the public of a February incident where a corroded light fell to the roadway in the Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. tunnel. However, about a week later Mullan said there was no way he could have made the announcement because his staff did not notify him of the problem until a month later.

“I should have known earlier, no question about it,” Mullan told The Boston Globe. “It was clearly a lapse in internal communication.”

Mullan might have gotten a sense that something was wrong on March 1 when he saw crews working on the lights. Inspections of the 23,000 lights in the tunnel system were already taking place. However, the Federal Highway Administration was informed of the hazard as early as Feb. 24.

Mullan said those involved in the miscommunication could face disciplinary action, and that he will work on sharpening the protocols for reporting possible safety hazards in the Big Dig tunnels.