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Turnpike, firm set deal on cost of leak

Caused Big Dig delays, repairs

By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 12/20/2002


Bechtel's mistakes drive up cost overruns, and company profits.

Bechtel's fee overruns
Map of major conflicts
History of the contract
Contract modifications
Cross section of roadway
Construction cost overruns

State officials overlook and excuse Bechtel's mistakes for a decade.

Cost recoveries initiated

Powerfull allies help protect Bechtel and its bottom line.


This series has generated strong response from the state, the public, and Globe columnists.
More Globe coverage


On Feb. 20, 2003, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff issued a document disputing the findings of the "Easy Pass" series. Globe editor Martin Baron responded with a defense of the Globe's reporting.
Read Bechtel's statement
Read the Globe's statement


Building a reputation
Bechtel has never shied away from big construction projects, but worldwide achievements are accompanied by controversy.
See past Bechtel projects


Review cites flaws at Big Dig
Cerasoli charges Big Dig coverup
$1.4b overrun known in '99
Firm rejects call to offset costs
'99 memos warned of tunnel leaks

Officials disclose more defects
Lawsuit raises Big Dig questions
State to reopen deal with Bechtel
Big Dig hires quality manager
US knew of hidden expenses
Big Dig overrun just plain big
SEC probers to target Big Dig
Big Dig review to target overruns
Turnpike, firm set deal on leak cost

Contracts to be reviewed


Central Artery/Tunnel Project


Parsons Brinckerhoff

State Inspector General reports
On the history of the Central Artery/Tunnel project's finances:
On the Central Artery/Tunnel project's attempts to recover money for mistakes:

About "Scheme Z" bridge design

State oversight of the Big Dig

Mass. Turnpike Authority

The Artery Business Committee


On February 11, 2003, Globe reporter Raphael Lewis chatted with Boston.com readers about the Bechtel series.
Transcript of chat


Any tips? Let us know.
Phone: 617-929-3379
E-mail: bigdigtips@globe.com


Beyond the Big Dig   What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery? A joint effort between The Boston Globe, MIT, and WCVB-TV explores.
A special report

Progress updates on the Big Dig. Info

ore than a year after Fort Point Channel water flooded a Big Dig work zone, halting work there for more than three months, the Turnpike Authority yesterday completed a legal settlement worth more than $34 million to cap its losses.

The settlement prevents any future increases on the state's contract with Modern Continental Construction Co., which built the trouble-plagued Fort Point Channel tunnel crossing, said Turnpike spokesman Sean O'Neill.

Modern won the contract in 1997 on a bid of $301 million, and the pact had grown to $383 million. With the settlement, the state's total bill is now $417 million, an increase of nearly 39 percent over the original contract price.

The leak is one reason the Turnpike's extension to Logan Airport, which was supposed to open in September 2001, will not open until Jan. 20 at the earliest.

Charles Madden, Modern's executive vice president, said yesterday's settlement "satisfied both the Commonwealth and the contractor."

The concrete tunnel tubes that span the narrow Fort Point Channel near Gillette Co.'s world headquarters had sprung small, persistent leaks throughout the summer of 2001. In September of that year, the water began gushing in at up to 70,000 gallons a minute, submerging heavy equipment and stopping construction for months.

Before the flood, Modern and the state had come to a tentative settlement for outstanding claims for extra money.

The leak changed all that and the settlement was scrapped, Madden said, initiating a new round of negotiations.

Earlier this year, the Turnpike's general counsel, Michael Powers, asked the state attorney general's office to investigate $3 million of Modern's claims, saying they might violate the state's False Claims Act.

O'Neill said yesterday the state has decided not to pursue the case. Asked whether the claim referral was a bargaining tactic against Modern, O'Neill said it was an attempt to ensure that contractors substantiate financial claims.

Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, confirmed there would be no investigation but did not provide specifics.

Despite the size of yesterday's settlement, O'Neill said the Big Dig's budget of $14.625 billion included room for the deal. He called the deal a positive development for the state.

"This ends any future increases on this contract," O'Neill said. "It's a good thing."

This story ran on page B7 in the Metro/Region section of the Boston Globe on 12/20/2002 .
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