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Reilly keeps pressure on for Big Dig settlement

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly yesterday appealed to Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the biggest contractor on the Big Dig, to negotiate a settlement with his office for shoddy work on the $14.6 billion tunnel project, but Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff yesterday showed no indication of moving toward a quick resolution.

''The ball is in their court,'' Reilly said, three days after his office announced its claim for a $108 million refund from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and about a dozen smaller design firms supervised by Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

''This will come to a head over the coming months,'' he told reporters who asked about a timetable. He threatened to sue Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff if the stalemate continues.

But Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff didn't budge, standing by the same three-sentence statement it released on Friday. In that statement, the consortium of two of the world's largest enginering and management firms stated its disagreement with the findings of facts and law made by Reilly's office. The statement also said the consortium remains committed ''to trying to reach a fair and fact-based settlement.''

Reilly, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, deflected criticism that the the claim -- less than 1 percent of the project's cost -- was too low. ''What we have we can prove,'' he said. ''We can back it up.''

There are about 200 allegations of design or management error on Reilly's list, including uneven road surfaces, waterproofing problems, and schedule delays, and totaling $108 million. The list, made public Friday, is the result of a yearlong investigation, he said. Still, Reilly hinted that his office is studying other approaches to gaining refunds.

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