Judge rejects effort to keep big dig records secret
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 4/11/2003
state court judge, citing an "immense" public interest in scrutinizing the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to the Big Dig's private sector managers, yesterday rejected the manager's request for a court order keeping billing records secret.
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Yet release of the records was delayed as lawyers involved in the case said Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff indicated that it may appeal the ruling before the State Appeals Court today.
If an appeal fails, then piles of federal financial audits of Bech tel/Parsons will be released late this afternoon by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Big Dig.
Superior Court Judge Allen van Gestel, after hearing arguments on state public records law, issued a ruling denying Bechtel/Parsons an immediate order keeping the records out of public view.
Van Gestel pointed out that the records are sought by the state Senate's Post Audit Committee, which last week conducted two days of hearings into Bechtel/Parsons' performance on the Big Dig. The hearings were the first step in the state's promise to get whatever refund may be due the state from Bechtel/Parsons for mistakes.
"The public interest is immense," van Gestel wrote. "A committee of the Legislature is seeking the documents in its oversight capacity. "
After citing the $14.625 billion project as "one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken," van Gestel noted that, under Bechtel/Parsons's management, the project is "billions of dollars over budget."
The firm declined comment yesterday.
This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 4/11/2003.
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