Every day, as it becomes more and more obvious that Boston’s Big Dig project is not as bad as its critics had been claiming since it started.
It’s far, far, far worse.
When the 3-ton concrete ceiling panel collapsed a few weeks ago, killing a woman, it suddenly became no longer feasible for the powers that be in Boston to continue pretending that all was just fine and dandy and to continue using the Turnpike Authority as their own personal piggy bank and dumping ground for public sector jobs. After years of fighting to keep control over the Authority, the Massachusetts legislature passed Governor Romney’s bill giving him control over the inspections in barely 8 hours. And as Romney’s work continues and more and more people dig into the records, more and more appalling facts are coming to light.
For one, the reason the ceiling panel fell was that it was suspended from the roof by bolts. Bolts not sunk into the concrete roof, but set in epoxy. This was a concern years ago — in 2000, according to one memo unearthed by the Boston Herald; in 1999, by the Boston Globe. Both alarming memos were ignored, apparently, as the bolts were very rarely (if ever) inspected for signs of the warned failure.
And Matt Amarello, the embattled head of the Authority, finds himself utterly abandoned by his long-term allies. For years, he’d curried their favor by hiring their friends, family membrs, and supporters, as well as enabling them to collect hefty campaign contributions from Big Dig contractors. But the instant the tunnel tasted blood, Matt found himself standing alone. Romney has been trying to get rid of him for years, and now the legislature has washed its hands of him.
(In an “only in Massachusetts” twist, Romney’s efforts are being backed by one of Boston’s biggest law firms, working to oust Amarello on a pro bono basis — in other words, for free. Meanwhile, Amarello has hired three of Boston’s most expensive law firms to fight to keep his job — and he’s sticking the state with their bills.)
Boston is, in a nutshell, screwed.
The Big Dig was to replace the Central Artery. The idea was to replace the series of elevated highways with a surface and tunnel system. And as each portion of the Dig opened, the portion of the Central Artery it was supplanting was torn down. The crossover and redundancy was minimized. Which means that as each portion of the tunnel system is shut down for inspections and repairs, there simply isn’t a ready alternative to getting around the city. Already traffic to and from Logan Airport is severely constricted, and it’s getting worse.
If you’re wondering why I’m wasting your time on this local story, it’s because that this $14.6-BILLION-dollar project was mostly funded with federal dollars — until Congress finally turned off the spigot about a year ago. I don’t have precise figures, but the corrupt swine of Massachusetts flushed about $11 billion of OUR money down their killer hole in the ground — largely thanks to officials with names like “Kennedy” and “Kerry.”
I’ve gotten a LOT of mileage out of bashing Massachusetts, and there is a lot of truth in the old saw that “people tend to get the government they deserve.” For decades, the people of Massachusetts have been re-electing the same corrupt and/or incompetent politicians again and again and again and again, and now the consequences of those votes are coming back to bite them on the ass — and HARD.
The cynics are already finding their way to give vent to their frustrations. The Tip O’Neill Tunnel is being referred to as the “Drip,” while the Ted Williams Tunnel is getting tagged with the name “Dead Williams.”
But Boston’s current state… I dunno if I’d wish that on anyone, even the Massholes who gave us Tip O’Neill, Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry, just to name four.