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Ex-judge to review Big Dig contracts

Pike officials eye refunds

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 01/24/2003


Bechtel's mistakes drive up cost overruns, and company profits.

Bechtel's fee overruns
Map of major conflicts
History of the contract
Contract modifications
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.
More Globe coverage


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.
Read Bechtel's statement
Read the Globe's statement


Building a reputation
Bechtel has never shied away from big construction projects, but worldwide achievements are accompanied by controversy.
See past Bechtel projects


Review cites flaws at Big Dig
Cerasoli charges Big Dig coverup
$1.4b overrun known in '99
Firm rejects call to offset costs
'99 memos warned of tunnel leaks

Officials disclose more defects
Lawsuit raises Big Dig questions
State to reopen deal with Bechtel
Big Dig hires quality manager
US knew of hidden expenses
Big Dig overrun just plain big
SEC probers to target Big Dig
Big Dig review to target overruns
Turnpike, firm set deal on leak cost

Contracts to be reviewed


Central Artery/Tunnel Project


Parsons Brinckerhoff

State Inspector General reports
On the history of the Central Artery/Tunnel project's finances:
On the Central Artery/Tunnel project's attempts to recover money for mistakes:

About "Scheme Z" bridge design

State oversight of the Big Dig

Mass. Turnpike Authority

The Artery Business Committee


On February 11, 2003, Globe reporter Raphael Lewis chatted with Boston.com readers about the Bechtel series.
Transcript of chat


Any tips? Let us know.
Phone: 617-929-3379
E-mail: bigdigtips@globe.com


Beyond the Big Dig   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.
A special report

Progress updates on the Big Dig. Info

esponding to huge Big Dig cost overruns, the state agency overseeing the $14.6 billion Big Dig project yesterday hired a retired state court judge to decide whether the state should press contractors to refund money for past mistakes in their work.

Edward M. Ginsburg, 70, who retired last year after 25 years as a probate court judge, takes on the task of sifting through thousands of pages of project records to determine if the state has a case against any of the more than 150 contractors hired since 1985 to work on the massive project.

The Big Dig began with an estimated cost of $2.5 billion and has grown to seven times that amount. To date, companies hired on the project have returned only $35,707 to the state for mistakes in design, construction or management, records show.

Recently, calls for "independent" reviews of the so-called cost recovery cases have come from different quarters.

Jordan Levy, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the project, has called for a "look back" at all contracts for possible refunds. Levy has focused on the project's private sector manager, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Last month, some of the contractors met with turnpike officials to voice concerns that they might be unfairly blamed for problems not of their own making. Bechtel's lawyer was among those expressing concern.

"The idea is to get an independent look at these cases, from someone outside the project, so that everyone can feel assured of fairness," said Michael Powers, the turnpike's general counsel.

Powers said the turnpike will set aside at least $1 million to pay for the "look back" effort. Ginsburg agreed to work for $53,000 a year -- the difference between his current state pension and his former salary as a judge, Powers said.

Ginsburg will recruit and hire two lawyers on a consulting basis to work full-time under his direction, Powers said.

Powers said the effort is expected to take several years.

Greg Sullivan, state inspector general, will participate in the work. "We still have time to do this, and we are dead serious about doing it," he said.

Bechtel officials have said the company has met its contractual obligations to the state, and does not owe any money back, but that Bechtel is willing to discuss any concerns raised by state officials.

This story ran on page B3 in the Metro/Region section of the Boston Globe on 01/24/2003.
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