Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Big Dig mess a sticky situation

At left, Turnpike Chairman Matt Amorello at today's press conference. At right, Amorello demonstrates the strength of the Big Dig epoxy in an undated photo from Turnpike archives.

I'm stunned at the information that is starting to come out around what may have caused ceiling tiles to collapse in one of the Big Dig tunnels. The Boston Globe has an update:
The metal tie was anchored in the concrete ceiling with epoxy, but not affixed to a metal support rail, as was done with ceiling panels in other tunnels, including those on Interstate 93 and other sections of I-90, Amorello said. Certain site locations prevented builders from using the support bar, Amorello said, without going into specifics.
Channel 4 has more:

The three ton panels should be secured by a combination of metal rods and powerful epoxy. In this case, if those steel tie backs were not properly fastened to the ceiling, essentially not even screwed in, that left only the glue to hold the huge slabs in place and that clearly wasn't enough.

CBS4's Joe Shortsleeve was told if the bolts had been properly fastened to the tunnel ceiling there would be tearing or damage as they pulled free from the ceiling. But we've learned the break was clean as if it never screwed in and the glue just let loose.

So, basically there are dozens of three-ton concrete slabs resting on top of steel ties that are super-glued into the ceiling? Superglue??!! For $14 Billion, the best we could do was to hope a few dabs of superglue were going to hold the thing together?

I have long been a fan of the Big Dig. I like the openness downtown now that the Central Artery has been torn down. I like the convenience of getting to the airport without going downtown. I think the Zakim Bridge is a fantastic addition to the Boston skyline. It cost way too much money, but all in all, I've thought it was worth it (and yes, that's easier for me to say since I didn't live or work in the city while all of the construction was underway).

But I'm horrified that it is falling apart, killing drivers in the process.

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