Is the Big Green another Big Dig?

With a skyrocketing price and delayed schedule, some in Massachusetts believe the transit project is heading in that direction

News Boston Herald August 23, 2010
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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appeared to be committed to sweeping everything bad associated with the Big Dig project under the rug.

However, the embattled leader might be giving his broom a rest following his support of Parsons Brinckerhoff as one of the designers for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Green Line extension. Parsons Brinckerhoff was one of two companies federal officials found at fault in the Big Dig tunnel collapse that killed one.

Mary Connaughton, who is running for state auditor, called out Patrick after he made a campaign vow for a “permanent end to the Big Dig culture.”

“It sounds like the Big Dig culture might still be alive and well on Beacon Hill,” she told the Boston Herald.

Making matters worse, the MBTA projects costs for the Green Line extension have spiked from $560 million to $954 million since 2007, and it appears the legally mandated 2014 deadline will be missed.

The project is expected to be handed to Parsons Brinckerhoff as an extension of a $2.8 billion project bid out in 2007, but many critics are bashing the way the contract was handled.

“When a contract is nearly 10 times higher than the original contract, it is hard to justify a contract exemption,” said Connaughton. “It should go out to bid to get the best price for the people.”

Patrick’s office said Parsons Brinckerhoff would be watched closely during the execution of the Green Line extension, “something that prior administrations failed to do.”

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) board members were expected to approve a $24 million contract to design the Green Line extension last week, but scratched the vote when many learned that Parsons Brinckerhoff was one of the subcontractors. MassDOT will attempt to pass the measure in September.

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