Big Dig's Aftershocks

<p>A look at how the specter of Boston's Big Dig cast a dark shadow over proposed freeway replacement plans in Seattle and other cities.</p>
March 17, 2008, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"In a ballot initiative last March, Seattle voters weighed in on a waterfront tunnel project, smaller in scope than the Big Dig, but similar in goals. In the run-up to the vote, the words big and dig became political shorthand for bloat and delay, with shoddiness thrown in for good measure."

"Seventy percent of Seattle voters said no, thanks. On the same ballot, they also rejected a replacement overpass."

"Instead, Seattle, like a growing number of cities around the country, is looking at taking down its elevated highway structure and replacing it with - nothing. The idea is to slow traffic in the city on ground-level streets, reclaim the waterfront, and let drivers who want to bypass downtown use another route."

"'The Big Dig experience was certainly used against us,' said Tim Ceis, Seattle's deputy mayor, who supported a tunnel. As Seattle debated its project, the Big Dig faced a variety of setbacks: spiraling costs and legal wrangling among contractors, including Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the tunnel accident that killed Milena del Valle of Jamaica Plain."

"'The tiles fell right in the middle of our debate about this,' Ceis said. 'That didn't help. And also, Parsons Brinckerhoff was the primary consultant here.'"

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Published on Friday, March 14, 2008 in The Boston Globe
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