Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two more bridges to Indiana and a new Arena.... Is this what we have to look forward to?

I'm sure there's enough bridge building experience out there to make sure that most people will travel across both of the bridges safely. But when I read about the Big Dig, I have to wonder what Louisville is in store for with such massive public projects coming up, especially, given the fact we can't even PAINT a bridge properly. I do like how the East End Bridges are more pleasing to the eye. Maybe we can have a Bridgearama when it opens.

By BROOKE DONALD, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jul 25, 5:43 AM ET

BOSTON - Traffic was disrupted once again in a key Big Dig tunnel after inspectors found loose bolts in a ceiling panel — the same sort of problem that is believed to have killed a motorist earlier this month.

Three loose bolts — one had dislodged about a half inch — were found at the westbound entrance to the Ted Williams harbor tunnel Monday. Traffic was diverted around the questionable panel and it was shored up with a portable support device.

"This is a precautionary step. There was no sign of failure, but we are erring on the side of public safety," Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for the state Highway Department, said Monday night.

A connector tunnel system leading to the eastbound side of the Ted Williams Tunnel, as well as ramps leading from the Boston end of the westbound section, have been closed since several 3-ton concrete ceiling panels in the connector tunnel crushed a car on July 10, killing Milena Del Valle, 39, of Boston.

The bolt-and-epoxy system holding up the ceiling panels in those tunnels has been the focus of the subsequent investigation.

The Ted Williams Tunnel's panels are lighter and its suspension system considered more substantial, but the eastbound tunnel was closed for a day last week when two bolts were found to have slipped. Those areas are being reinforced with the same type of portable device as the westbound panel.

Gov. Mitt Romney has said the Ted Williams Tunnel, which extends Interstate 90 between downtown Boston and Logan International Airport, would get daily inspections until pull tests on the ceiling panels could be completed.

The latest problem was discovered hours after Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman Matt Amorello, who has overseen the beleaguered Big Dig project, filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the governor from holding a hearing on Thursday seeking to demote him from his $223,000-a-year post.

Romney has long criticized his management of the Big Dig, and renewed calls for his ouster as chairman since the fatal ceiling collapse. Amorello's lawyers contend that the governor does not have the authority to demote him.

"The governor has invented a power he does not have," according to the 12-page lawsuit. Amorello's spokeswoman, Mariellen Burns, said the governor's actions are "politically motivated."

Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman, countered: "We are confident that we are acting within the law, and we will make our argument in court."

The $14.6 billion Big Dig project, the most expensive in U.S. history, buried much of the city's highway network in tunnels. It took over a decade to complete and has since been plagued by leaks, falling debris, cost overruns, delays and problems linked to faulty construction.


Associated Press reporters Glen Johnson and Denise Lavoie contributed to this report.

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