Holiday delays on Pike unintentional, Patrick to announce

Official says he will cite cost-cuts

By Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / April 18, 2009
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The Patrick administration plans to announce today that there was no deliberate job action, nor a concerted effort by Massachusetts Turnpike Authority managers, to create a logjam on the state's main road last weekend, an administration official said yesterday.

The announcement will blame the intense traffic tie-ups over the Easter weekend on turnpike chief Alan LeBovidge's decision not to call more than a handful of workers in on overtime to replace sick employees, a cost-saving measure.

The undersecretary of transportation, Jeff Mullan, had been conducting a review of the tie-ups amid public fury and Governor Deval Patrick's demand for a "full accounting." The authority is also conducting a review.

The administration will also announce efforts to reduce future holiday tie-ups, including plans to make sure there are an "appropriate" number of toll takers working, even if it requires paying overtime, said the official, who requested anonymity because the report had not been released. LeBovidge said earlier this week that he was making plans to add toll takers "strategically." It is not clear whether the administration's plan will add to the staffing.

Despite some calls for LeBovidge's resignation, he will not be quitting or forced out, according to the administration official and LeBovidge's chief of staff.

The administration official did not offer details of the report.

The Globe reported earlier in the week that staffing levels on Easter Sunday were 28 percent lower than on the holiday last year, not only because there were fewer overtime workers, but because fewer staff members were assigned to work the holiday. And LeBovidge confirmed Thursday that staffing levels at some booths were lowered as recently as April 10.