The Boston Globe asks, 10 years later, did the Big Dig deliver?
It’s a long article and I have a short answer: Hell, no.
Ironically, the only top official to go to prison didn’t go there for billions of dollars in fraud. He got busted for evading $30,000 in personal income tax.
When I was in college the “Central Artery / Tunnel” project was a $2.6 billion dollar job creation program (according to ads on the subway). At least it still cost in the single digits.
But the budget was always treated as somebody else’s money.
As the cost passed $8 billion Governor Weld angered state Democrats by agreeing to accept limits on federal reimbursement. The higher the cost rose, the harder state officials worked to cover it up.
Current cost is $24 billion. Think that would have been approved up front? Public perception was carefully managed so completion was always just a few billion dollars away.
The official cost of the project doesn’t count “mitigation”. That’s the legal term for blackmail payments to anti-highway groups.
The state wrote them a blank check, and the same sorts of leeches and scam artists who managed the Big Dig are feeding off the new pile of money. South Shore rail came in way over budget, and the Globe is advocating for continuing the $3 billion Green Line extension.
A couple years ago the transit talking point was how the MBTA was suffering because of Big Dig-related expenses. So it’s in the same situation as the MassDOT Highway Division. Welcome to equality with drivers, train riders.
Like train riders, Big Dig users get a subsidy. The cost to give them a free ride through Boston is $5 to $10 per trip. That money comes from other drivers’ gas taxes and other drivers’ Turnpike tolls. Massachusetts borrowed from future transportation projects to pay for a project it couldn’t afford.
Don’t think people would pay $5 off peak and $10 peak hour toll? Then the project wasn’t worth doing.
I thought people wouldn’t be gullible enough to fall for the same trick twice. But then I read about a $2 billion project to replace an aging urban viaduct with a tunnel…
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