It’s finally happened. After all the billions of dollars (14.6 billion), years spent working on, graft, kick-backs, shoddy work and mismanagement; the “Big Dig” has finally managed to kill someone. Milena Delvalle, 38, of Boston’s Jamaica Plains was killed last night when a three ton slab of the concrete fell from the ceiling of the Interstate 90 (Mass Pike) tunnel in Boston, MA. Miraculously her husband driving the car, Angel Delvalle, 46, managed to survive.
Can anyone even begin to imagine what type of catastrophe this would have been if it occurred during Boston’s rush hour?
A steel tieback that held a 40-foot ceiling section over Interstate 90 eastbound gave way late Monday night, Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello said.
In the immediate aftermath, large slabs sloped down the tunnel wall and across a lane of the roadway. The tunnel, a main access way to Boston’s Logan International Airport, was closed indefinitely.
The Big Dig has been plagued with questionable construction and cost over-runs throughout. Looks like we can add one more to a long line of questions regarding this “money pit” known as the Big Dig. Here is a post from fellow blogger J. at Wizbag from April 6, 2005, “Big rocks keep falling on my head…”.
Add Modern Continental’s name to that list. For what reason would they have only used these ties in a specific section of the tunnels?
Amorello said he’s confident the 200-foot section is the only area of the Big Dig project where the type of tiebacks that failed were used. Those ceiling panels were erected in 1999 and the contractor was Modern Continental, he said.
In that section, the tiebacks are bolted to a concrete ceiling. Above it is an industrial area of South Boston home to the Boston Convention Center and the World Trade Center.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino said he did not understand why the tiebacks in question would have been used on only a 200-foot section.
“That’s the question I have: why did we all of the sudden change the technique? Did we find faulty in it and the folks didn’t react to it properly?” he said.
The Big Dig is the single most expensive highway project in American history. Although the project was estimated at $2.5 billion in 1985.
The project was replete with delays, arrests, escalating costs, leaks, poor execution and use of substandard materials. The Massachusetts Attorney General is demanding contractors refund taxpayers $108 million for “shoddy work.”
Hub tunnel collapse horror: Debris kills woman
“It was massive,” the trooper said of the concrete slab that fell about 11 p.m.
The startling collapse forced the state troopers to immediately close the tunnel lest more concrete rain down on drivers.
As one police office stated on the scene, “The spot appeared to be a ticking time bomb,who was thankful the collapse didn’t happen during rush hour.”
“The car was completely crushed. That kind of weight would have crushed a Hummer – it’s amazing that guy got out alive,” said a second trooper who saw the debris field.
He said the 10-by-30 section that dropped was only half of the slab in that section of the tunnel. He said it appeared that iron securing the slab to the tunnel roof gave way. He said Modern Continental work crews had been in that section of the tunnel in recent weeks but he did not know what sort of work they were doing.
The Massachusetts Turnpike did not return two calls placed to their representatives’ cell phones or to three pages sent to them. They staged an early morning press conference that happened after press time.
Reports of substandard work and criminal misconduct