Big Dig Wasn’t Worth The Cost (published Nov 16, 2004)
The Globe is correct in pointing out two key problems with the central artery and tunnel project – but it may have missed the forest for the trees. Adrian Walker is right that after years of cost overruns, the expensive leaks in the big dig are proof that Turnpike chief Matt Amorello has been an incompetent steward of the public trust (“Shameless Tunnel Vision,” City & Region, Nov. 15). The editorial page is also right that the state is woefully behind schedule in keeping its Central Artery legal commitments to improve public transportation.
Perhaps it is time to draw larger conclusions. First, in regard to the $14 billion dig, 16 years of Republican governors have proved poor watchdogs of taxpayers’ money. This is noteworthy since they campaign as fiscal hawks who will fight corruption and work for reform.
Second, perhaps it is time to admit that the Big Dig itself was a mistake. With $14 billion spent, what have we accomplished? While I-93 is now wider, and I-90 now has a tunnel that goes straight to the airport, citizens know that roads, bridges, and public transportation have been neglected for a decade.
For $14 billion, we could have renewed the Artery above ground, built an urban ring as a heavy rail line similar to the Red Line, extended other transit lines like the Green Line to 128, improved roads, and had billions left to use on education or other projects.
In short, we have invested $14 billion in a project to transform roughly a mile of downtown Boston, along the edges of the North End, the financial district, and Chinatown. For the same money, we could have transformed the entire region.
That’s what I wrote then. What’s the way forward now?