So, we're getting $458 million from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff et al. $100 million is going to be spent immediately. The contractors are released from criminal liability, and not prohibited from working on MA projects in the future.
Obviously US Attorney Michael Sullivan and AG Coakley are going to spin this as a victory. Sen. Bob Hedlund may well have political reason to call it a capitulation. Another of the plaintiff's lawyers says the state got “snookered”:
TOM HEALEY: The Commonwealth and the citizens of the Commonwealth have been snookered. It's that simple.
THYS: Wellesley Attorney Tom Healey sued Bechtel for a construction accident that killed a worker when the Big Dig was being built. He settled for an amount he's not allowed to disclose. He says it would be normal procedure for Bechtel to review the designs and the project, and to figure out what could go wrong and how much it would cost.
HEALEY: They would not simply have offered 400 million dollars without getting some estimate or idea of potential errors and potential future costs. They've capped their losses at 400 million dollars. If the slurry walls fail, we may be looking at a one- to two-billion-dollar failure.
And I think I speak for many Massachusetts folks that
- $458 million sounds like a lot of money; but
- We have no idea how to evaluate if this is a fair and just settlement or not.
The Big Dig is an unprecedented project, and an unprecedented mess. What's fair? Anybody know? What are our criteria?