25/01/2006 - 06:00 am

Big Dig Winding Down

After more than a decade of traffic shifting, detours, and dead ends, Big Dig officials recently opened what they said is the project's last major piece of roadway, said an Associated Press report on www.Boston.com.

The opening of the Albany Street off-ramp from Interstate 93 south marks the moment when the $14.6 billion highway project's road pattern is substantially finished, according to Turnpike Authority chairman Matt Amorello. This is an important milestone for this project, which has been plagued for years by rising costs and lengthy delays. The cost of the project ballooned from $2.6 billion to $14.6 billion. In 2004, a wall panel sprung an eight-inch hole, flooding the northbound Interstate 93 tunnel and causing a 10-mile backup. That led to the discovery of 169 wall panels in need of repairs. Heavy construction work on the project began in 1991.

"We're starting to see the success of this project," he said. "There's been an incredible engineering achievement."

Although this is certainly progress, there is still work to be done. According to the report, grouting to patch leaks in the tunnels should wrap up sometime around the end of the month. That will end the practice of overnight lane restrictions. There is also some electrical work yet to be finished in some of the tunnels as well as pending legal issues to settle.

According to Amorello, all work, including surface streets, parks and final clean-up, should be finished by the spring of 2007.


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