Romney signs law targeting design errors on Big Dig
By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 3/6/2003
overnor Mitt Romney signed legislation yesterday aimed at vastly increasing the probability that state lawyers will recover some of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to Big Dig management and design errors.
Bechtel's mistakes drive up cost overruns, and company profits.
Bechtel's fee overruns
Map of major conflicts
History of the contract
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.
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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.
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Building a reputation
Bechtel has never shied away from big construction projects, but worldwide achievements are accompanied by controversy.
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Cerasoli charges Big Dig coverup
$1.4b overrun known in '99
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'99 memos warned of tunnel leaks
Officials disclose more defects
Lawsuit raises Big Dig questions
State to reopen deal with Bechtel
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US knew of hidden expenses
Big Dig overrun just plain big
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Contracts to be reviewed
Central Artery/Tunnel Project
State Inspector General reports
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About "Scheme Z" bridge design
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Mass. Turnpike Authority
The Artery Business Committee
On February 11, 2003, Globe reporter Raphael Lewis chatted with Boston.com readers about the Bechtel series.
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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.
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Progress updates on the Big Dig.
The legislation, prompted by a Globe investigation that tied $1.1 billion in overruns to mistakes and poor decisions to the Big Dig's private-sector managers, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, gives state officials 10 years to file ''cost recovery'' claims.
Previously, the law allowed the state three years after discovering a contractor mistake to file a negligence claim, and only six years for a breach of contract suit. Until yesterday, hundreds of Big Dig mistakes were out-of-reach to state lawyers, who are now involved in an intense effort to pinpoint errors and seek recovery.
''The governor, after reading the Globe expose, definitely felt that the Commonwealth needs to do everything possible to get back any and all funds owed to us,'' said Romney spokeswoman Karen Grant.
The legislation enjoyed unanimous backing in the Legislature, where lawmakers are grappling with a fiscal crisis that makes the prospect of recovering large sums of money all the more popular.
In addition to signing the bill, Romney has begun hiring an independent team scrutinize the more than $1.6 billion in Big Dig construction cost overruns rung up to date. Romney met with Bechtel/ Parsons Brinckerhoff executives last week to outline the plan, which the company endorsed.
This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 3/6/2003.
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