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Another big blow on Dig price: Final cost may rise by $333M (Boston's big dig)

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Another big blow on Dig price: Final cost may rise by $333M (Boston's big dig)

Old 05-04-07, 11:18 AM
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Another big blow on Dig price: Final cost may rise by $333M (Boston's big dig)

The original budget for Boston's "big dig" was $2.6 billion. Reagan vetoed it, saying it was a waste of money.

Since then, the project has spent more than 5 times that amount. It's many years behind schedule. And it's full of leaks and defects.

This is more of a pork project than a construction project.

The more they screw up, the more they get rewarded with increased levels of funding.


http://news.bostonherald.com/localRe...ticleid=198492

Another big blow on Dig price: Final cost may rise by $333M

By Casey Ross

Boston Herald Reporter

Friday, May 4, 2007 - Updated: 02:04 AM EST

Taxpayers who have already suffered through waste, fraud, delays and even a tragic accident from the budget-busting Big Dig are now getting a new kick in the pants: a bill as high as $333 million that has even Gov. Deval Patrick “fed up.”

In financial documents to be released today, the Patrick administration will formally disclose that costs have ballooned to at least $14.798 billion and may increase by another $160 million, pending the outcome of negotiations with contractors, sources confirmed.


The cost correction comes as Patrick tries to exert more control over the project and the Turnpike Authority, whose shaky management has provoked federal probes into the project’s finances and construction quality.

“We’re fed up with this,” an administration source told the Herald last night. “We want transparency and we want an accurate reflection of the costs. We have little or no confidence that the Turnpike Authority can manage itself, let alone the Big Dig.”

Sources with knowledge of the project’s finances said the more than $300 million price tag increase is driven by multiple factors, not the least of which are inaccuracies with the Turnpike Authority’s accounting methods.

For years, Turnpike managers have insisted they could hold the project’s cost at $14.625 billion, despite lingering liabilities due to construction delays and disputes over contract costs. But the Pike was assuming it could recover hundreds of millions of dollars from contractors, without disclosing the full extent of potential costs.

Sources said yesterday that the new bottom-line number of $14.798 billion is a more accurate snapshot of the project’s current costs, but they also said those costs could rise by another $160 million if financial disputes with contractors don’t turn out in the Turnpike Authority’s favor.

A Turnpike spokesman issued a statement last night saying the Pike only agreed to a potential budget increase of $10 million. “We’re working closely with the administration to finalize the project budget,” the statement reads.

The new project price tag includes $54 million in costs to repair the Interstate 90 Seaport connector tunnel, where the ceiling collapsed in July and killed Milena Del-Valle, a 38-year-old motorist from Jamaica Plain. It also includes additional costs incurred as a result of delays in finishing roads and greenway parks downtown.

In addition to the cost hikes to be reported today, officials said the administration’s financial statement also will disclose delays on some of the project’s greenway parks that could keep small-scale construction going until 2010.

The disclosures about the project are included in a financial statement the administration must file because it is issuing bonds for other other public works projects.

The state still owes billions of dollars on the scandal-plagued project, which is currently under investigation by a slew of state and federal agencies.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, for one, is heading a state probe to try to recover costs for construction mistakes, as well as a separate criminal investigation into the collapse that killed Del Valle.
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Old 05-04-07, 11:33 AM
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Old 05-04-07, 11:39 AM
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What happened to the one and only thread.
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Old 05-04-07, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
What happened to the one and only thread.

That's a good question.

I had forgotten it was a one and only thread.

But I wanted to do this poll anyway.

That thread was old anyway. I don't think it's been on the front page for at least a few months. And in this forum, one and only never really means that anyway.
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Old 05-04-07, 11:52 AM
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"How are you going to pay for these tax cuts?"

"Quit funding Boston's Big Dig."
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Old 05-04-07, 11:53 AM
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I still think the Big Dig was a good idea. The only problem is the way it's been managed.
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Old 05-04-07, 12:03 PM
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I think money that comes fromt he feds is generally mismanaged. If Boston had paid for this themselves, it would either be built or scrapped by now.
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Old 05-04-07, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
"How are you going to pay for these tax cuts?"

"Quit funding Boston's Big Dig."

That's great!
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Old 05-04-07, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I still think the Big Dig was a good idea. The only problem is the way it's been managed.
How should it have been managed differently?
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Old 05-04-07, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I think money that comes fromt he feds is generally mismanaged. If Boston had paid for this themselves, it would either be built or scrapped by now.
I agree.
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Old 05-04-07, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
How should it have been managed differently?
Shoddy construction, low-quality building materials, kickbacks, low bid contracting. You try to spend less, and end up having to spend more.

I know you think government=bad, but there were real problems with the way the Big Dig was handled. Not everything the goverment runs has to fail.
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Old 05-04-07, 12:18 PM
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That's what I would call a loaded poll. Could you try to put a single answer that won't reflect your position?
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Old 05-04-07, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I still think the Big Dig was a good idea. The only problem is the way it's been managed.
No, that's not the only problem. For starters, the federal government has no business giving Boston 15 billion dollars for this project in the first place. It's not their money to give. If Boston wants this project, the state of Massachusetts should pay for this project out of their own citizen's pockets, not mine and yours.
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Old 05-04-07, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
No, that's not the only problem. For starters, the federal government has no business giving Boston 15 billion dollars for this project in the first place. It's not their money to give. If Boston wants this project, the state of Massachusetts should pay for this project out of their own citizen's pockets, not mine and yours.
Then so much of Massachusetts resident money shouldn't be going to the federal government in the first place.

That's the way the federal government controls the states. Give us all your money and we'll give you some of it back if you do what we say. Speed limits, drinking age, etc.
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Old 05-04-07, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Shoddy construction, low-quality building materials, kickbacks, low bid contracting. You try to spend less, and end up having to spend more.

I know you think government=bad, but there were real problems with the way the Big Dig was handled. Not everything the goverment runs has to fail.

They've known about those problems for over a decade. Why did the government continue to fund it, even though they knew about those problems?

This is a case where the government rewarded people for failing. The more they failed, the more money the government gave them.

I don't always disagree with government. Here's an article that I've posted several times before, and I've praised the government for it. The government did the right thing here. In this case, the government rewarded success, and punished failure. This is the exact opposite policy of the "big dig."


http://www.opinionjournal.com/editor...l?id=110007252

The Californian Way

Lessons for New Orleans from the post-1994 earthquake rebuilding.

BY PETE WILSON

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In early 1994, a major earthquake (measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale) jolted the residents of greater Los Angeles from their slumbers and knocked houses off their foundations. Within seconds, the Northridge earthquake reduced to rubble the overpass bridges of Interstate 10, Los Angeles's major east-west artery, and thereby instantly shut down the most heavily trafficked freeway in the world. I was advised that it would require some two years and two months to repair the bridges and restore the I-10 to use.

Instead, we completed the repairs and reopened the freeway to its normal heavy traffic in just 66 days. How? We did two things.

First, I quickly exercised the extraordinary emergency powers conferred upon the governor of California by the state Government Code. I suspended the operation of statutes and regulations that would have required the protracted public hearings called for before environmental impact reports could be filed and acted upon, and I suspended other normally demanded procedural hurdles. The elimination of these legal requirements drastically reduced purposeless delays that would have impeded recovery and compounded the injury inflicted by the quake.

Second, we took a page from the book of private-sector incentives for accelerating performance. We told contractors bidding to repair the bridges that they must submit bids that specified not only the cost but the date of completion, and that they must agree to an added condition: For every day they were late, they would incur a penalty of $200,000; and for every day they were early, they would be rewarded with a bonus of $200,000. The winning bidder, C.C. Myers Inc., put on three shifts that worked 24/7. In order to prevent any delay in the work, they hired a locomotive and crew to haul to Los Angeles steel sitting on a siding in Texas. Myers made more on the bonus than they did on the bid.

Incentives work.
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Old 05-04-07, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cinten
That's what I would call a loaded poll. Could you try to put a single answer that won't reflect your position?

Only one of the answers reflects my position - I agree with Reagan's veto.
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Old 05-04-07, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
No, that's not the only problem. For starters, the federal government has no business giving Boston 15 billion dollars for this project in the first place. It's not their money to give. If Boston wants this project, the state of Massachusetts should pay for this project out of their own citizen's pockets, not mine and yours.


Exactly.

The only reason to use federal dollars for a project like this is because they wanted the money to be wasted.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Then so much of Massachusetts resident money shouldn't be going to the federal government in the first place.

That's the way the federal government controls the states. Give us all your money and we'll give you some of it back if you do what we say. Speed limits, drinking age, etc.

I agree. Federal taxes and federal spending should be lower.

The only reason to use federal dollars for a project like this is because it encourages waste. There is no other reason to use federal dollars for it, other than to enocurage waste.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:04 PM
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The reason I find the "big dig" to be so fasicinating is because it's a great lesson in economics.

1) When federal dollars are given to local projects, it encourages waste.

2) When waste is rewarded with more money, it encourages more waste.

3) No matter how much money the government spends on projects like this, and no matter how much over budget it goes, some people will always say that it's underfudned.

4) This teaches us the truth about the bogus illusion of "free money" from the federal government. So-called "free money" turns out to be very expensive.

5) The only reason to use federal funding for projects like this is because it encourages waste. There is no other reason.

6) This proves that the people who say we need to raise taxes are wrong.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:19 PM
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Living in Boston, I can not remember a time the big dig hasn't been going on (and I'm in my early 20s). And it's been a complete and utter disaster from day 1. The biggest issue is every time a company makes a huge mistake here, they hire that same company to make the repairs. No wonder nothing gets done correctly.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Then so much of Massachusetts resident money shouldn't be going to the federal government in the first place.

That's the way the federal government controls the states. Give us all your money and we'll give you some of it back if you do what we say. Speed limits, drinking age, etc.
Well, I agree. This sort of funding should be state-controlled. The federal government should have no business taking money from people and then, if you're good, deigning to return some of it.
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Old 05-04-07, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by lordwow
Living in Boston, I can not remember a time the big dig hasn't been going on (and I'm in my early 20s). And it's been a complete and utter disaster from day 1. The biggest issue is every time a company makes a huge mistake here, they hire that same company to make the repairs. No wonder nothing gets done correctly.

That verifies what I said - the governemnt is rewarding failure with more money.
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Old 05-04-07, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
That verifies what I said - the governemnt is rewarding failure with more money.
I agree with you. Even worse is now that the Big Dig is pretty much done, like 10 years too late, it's basically worthless now since the traffic has increased past what the changes were designed for.

In other words, they finally finished, and now it needs to be done again due to the population increase.
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Old 05-04-07, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
That verifies what I said - the governemnt is rewarding failure with more money.
Leave Iraq's young "democracy" out of this.
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Old 05-05-07, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by lordwow
I agree with you. Even worse is now that the Big Dig is pretty much done, like 10 years too late, it's basically worthless now since the traffic has increased past what the changes were designed for.

In other words, they finally finished, and now it needs to be done again due to the population increase.
In reality, the changes and population increase go hand in hand...if you never added additional throughput, population would not have risen so fast.

All roadbuilding is a sponge solution...put a bigger sponge in the puddle, and that too gets soaked and swells to capacity...you will never have enough traffic lanes...add one more and more people drive.

Only way to reduce congestion and emissions...stop with an unfair gas tax, and go to congestion tolls...it will spread out traffic more even and fairly
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