Big Dig Celing Collapse - Complete Coverage

Latest News

Big Dig contractor pleads guilty to 40 charges

Modern Continental emphasized in a statement that all the charges relating to the 2006 fatal ceiling collapse were dismissed. (Boston Globe)

Past Coverage

Family to get $28m in Big Dig death

The family of a Jamaica Plain woman crushed to death in the 2006 Big Dig ceiling collapse will collect more than $28 million after reaching settlements yesterday with the last and largest of the defendants in the family's civil lawsuit. (Boston Globe, 10/1/08)

Big Dig's red ink engulfs state

Contrary to the belief that the project was heavily subsidized by the federal government, 73 percent of costs were paid by Mass. drivers and taxpayers. (Boston Globe, 7/17/08)
graphic Cost of the project  |  Spiral of debt  |  Video

Accused Big Dig firm files for Ch. 11

Modern Continental Corp., which earned $3.2 billion as the largest contractor on the Big Dig and was charged criminally with hiding shoddy workmanship, sought the shelter of US Bankruptcy Court, claiming up to $1 billion in debts. (Boston Globe, 6/24/08)

More Big Dig charges brought

The US Attorney's office brought a raft of criminal charges against the Big Dig's largest contractor, saying it knew that bolts were coming loose in the ceiling of the Interstate 90 tunnel. (Boston Globe, 6/21/08)

Turnpike presses state for funding

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority - facing a near-certain toll increase - turned up the heat on the Legislature yesterday to get it to help pay for the Big Dig and mandated discount programs. (Boston Globe, 6/21/08)

Firm's ex-managers agree to plead guilty in Big Dig scandal

Two defendants agreed to plead guilty to highway project fraud in scheming the state out of more than $300,000 for work done on the Interstate 93 tunnel. (Boston Globe, 6/20/08)

Big Dig clash cost $8.3m, audit says

A dispute between the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority over cracks and leaks in Big Dig construction has cost taxpayers $8.3 million, the state auditor reported yesterday. (Boston Globe, 6/11/08)

Contractor pleads guilty in Big Dig overbilling case

A major contractor for the $15 billion Big Dig project has pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government. (Boston Globe, 5/21/08)

Big Dig's $13.9m ducts go unused

The conduits are too narrow in places to fit the cellular cables inside them, turnpike officials said. And even if they weren't, the cellphone companies say it is cheaper to do the job without using the pricey ducts. (Boston Globe, 5/19/08)

Big Dig firm may face more charges

A small New York supplier of epoxy that failed in the 2006 fatal tunnel ceiling collapse is in the crosshairs of a federal grand jury investigation. (Boston Globe, 5/10/08)

Big Dig official's firing led to windfall

Michael P. Lewis didn't retire from his post as the head of the Big Dig, but was actually fired last year. The move allowed him to more than triple his state pension. (Boston Globe, 4/5/08)

No Big Dig copycats

If all had gone as planned, the mayor of Seattle would don a hard hat next year and break ground on a multibillion-dollar project to replace the city's downtown overpass with a tunnel. (Boston Globe, 3/14/08)

Big Dig firm, manager charged with conspiracy

Federal prosecutors charged a major Big Dig contractor and one of its managers with scheming to overcharge the government more than $300,000 for work done on the Interstate 93 tunnel. (Boston Globe, 3/1/08)

Big Dig still runs a long to-do list

Two months after turnpike managers parted with the Big Dig's chief engineer, shuttered the project's offices, and let its lead contract expire, workers are contending with a 2,000-item to-do list, an indication that the Big Dig remains a long way from finality. (Boston Globe, 3/3/08)

Immediate Big Dig fixes expected to cost $100m

About $100 million of the landmark $458 million Big Dig settlement will be quickly drained to fix a long list of defects, many previously undisclosed. (Boston Globe, 1/24/08)

Big Dig still runs a long to-do list

Two months after turnpike managers parted with the Big Dig's chief engineer, shuttered the project's offices, and let its lead contract expire, workers are contending with a 2,000-item to-do list. (Boston Globe, 3/3/08)

$458m Big Dig settlement reached

State and federal authorities announced a settlement of $458.2 million with the firms that designed and managed the Big Dig. (Boston Globe, 1/23/08) Read the settlement documents

$450m Big Dig accord expected

State and federal authorities are prepared to announce a settlement of about $450 million with the firms that designed and managed the Big Dig. (Boston Globe, 1/23/08)

US House passes national tunnel inspection program

The US House approved a program yesterday aimed at preventing tragedies such as the Big Dig's fatal ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 1/23/08)

Settlement reportedly near in I-90 tunnel ceiling collapse

The attorney general's office is close to reaching a settlement with Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff in exchange for not seeking criminal charges. (Boston Globe, 1/17/08)

Big Dig tunnels spring 237 leaks

Despite repeated assurances that it had leaks under control, the Turnpike Authority has allowed the number of leaks to explode in the last two years and has been forced to launch a fresh effort to plug hundreds of trouble spots. (Boston Globe, 1/13/08)

Many at fault in Big Dig collapse, lawyers say

Lawyers involved in a $6 million award to the family of the Jamaica Plain woman killed in the 2006 Big Dig ceiling collapse said that the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and some other companies involved were more responsible for the accident than the firm that made the first settlement. (Boston Globe, 12/26/07)

Big Dig epoxy supplier to pay $6m

After weeks of confidential negotiations, Powers Fasteners has reached a $6 million settlement with the family of a Jamaica Plain woman who was killed in a 2006 ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel. (Boston Globe, 12/25/07)

US attorney's office faulted on Big Dig

A US District Court judge said yesterday that federal prosecutors failed to thoroughly investigate a scheme in which a Big Dig contractor overcharged the government. (Boston Globe, 12/21/07)

Judge won't drop manslaughter charge against epoxy firm

A judge refused to dismiss the manslaughter charge against a New York epoxy company that allegedly played a role in the fatal Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 12/19/07)

Greenway madness

Having paid premium prices for choice spots on the new Greenway, developers find themselves trying to build to the sky to satisfy their investors. (Boston Globe, 12/19/07)

Big Dig leaks are ongoing, Turnpike study says

Construction crews have plugged hundreds of leaks, but the tunnel system is still on pace to pump out the same amount of water this year as it did in 2006. (Boston Globe, 12/18/07)

Lawyers: Big Dig victim's kin may settle suit

The family of Milena Del Valle, the Jamaica Plain woman killed in the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse, is close to accepting a settlement of approximately $6 million. (Boston Globe, 12/12/07)

Lawyers will urge judge to dismiss Big Dig case

Lawyers for the epoxy company charged with manslaughter in the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse, will ask a judge next week to dismiss the indictment. (Boston Globe, 11/27/07)

Cost of probe on Big Dig nearly $1m

The special prosecutor spearheading the investigation into the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse is billing the state almost $30,000 a week. (Boston Globe, 11/27/07)

Brothers stand by accused firm

Powers Fasteners insists that the family's privately-held company is not responsible for the ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 9/6/07)

Coakley rules out more indictments in Big Dig

The attorney general concluded that only three of the companies involved in construction of the Big Dig tunnel ceiling that collapsed were criminally negligent. (Boston Globe, 8/26/07)

Big Dig firm was warned about epoxy

The epoxy supplier indicted on charges in the Big Dig ceiling collapse faced serious problems with its glue on several Singapore projects. (Boston Globe, 8/10/07)

Big Dig epoxy firm indicted

Attorney General Martha Coakley announced yesterday the first criminal indictment in connection with last summer's Big Dig ceiling collapse, a manslaughter charge against the supplier of the ceiling-bolt epoxy believed to be the root cause of the tragedy that killed a Jamaica Plain woman. (Boston Globe, 8/9/07)

Big Dig deal could hit $1b

State and federal officials are demanding that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff pay as much as $1 billion to settle claims for shoddy work on the Big Dig, in exchange for a guarantee that the consortium will not face criminal charges in last year's tunnel collapse. (Boston Globe, 7/14/07)

N.Y. glue maker denies role in tunnel collapse

Suddenly in the glare of public scrutiny, an obscure New York supplier of industrial glues, Powers Fasteners Inc., yesterday vigorously denied federal investigators' assertions that the firm squandered the best opportunity to fix the epoxy error behind last year's fatal Big Dig ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 7/12/07)

Wide risk, wide blame

Federal investigators blamed multiple Big Dig contractors and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority yesterday for last summer's fatal tunnel collapse, concluding that the wrong kind of glue was used to hold up part of the concrete ceiling and that project oversight was inadequate to detect the problem. (Boston Globe, 7/11/07)

Big Dig collapse aftershocks still felt

One year after massive concrete slabs fell from the ceiling of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel, instantly killing a 38-year-old mother of three, the aftershocks of the tragedy continue to reverberate across state government, within a family touched by tragedy, and in the minds of commuters who pass through the tunnels each day. (Boston Globe, 7/10/07)

Final Big Dig section to open

Eleven months after a fatal ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel, the final section under repair was set to reopen, finally allowing traffic through the entire tunnel network. (Boston Globe, 6/2/07)

Big Dig probe focusing on ceiling epoxy

Contractors apparently used the wrong adhesive to install at least some of the bolts in a Big Dig tunnel ceiling that partially collapsed last summer, project records show, prompting criminal investigators to focus on whether the mix-up was a significant factor in the accident that killed a Jamaica Plain woman. (Boston Globe, 5/3/07)

The Big Tangle

The tunnel ceiling collapse that killed a Jamaica Plain woman last summer has triggered one of the most complicated legal fights in Boston history, court observers say, already drawing more than 100 attorneys, 17 companies, and dozens of engineers and workers into the burgeoning lawsuits and criminal investigations spawned by the tragedy. (Boston Globe, 4/8/07)

Traffic begins flowing through I-90 eastbound connector tunnel

Traffic began flowing early Sunday morning through the Big Dig tunnel where a woman was crushed to death in a July ceiling collapse. (Associated Press, 01/14/07)

I-90 connector west opens

Drivers returning from Logan International Airport got an early Christmas present yesterday after federal officials approved the reopening of the westbound lanes of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel late Saturday, ending a five-month closure for repairs that followed a fatal ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 12/25/06)

Cheaper, faster path led to failure

The men from Newman Associates, a bolt distribution company, approached Construction engineer John Tsikouras in August 1999 and said they wanted his professional advice about a tunnel ceiling that was part of Boston's Big Dig. But Tsikouras said their questions seemed intended to get the Rhode Island engineer's approval rather than his expertise. (Boston Globe, 12/24/06)

Reilly's big talk, Coakley's Big Dig dilemma

IT'S WIN-WIN for Tom Reilly and lose-lose for Martha Coakley Coakley, the incoming attorney general, will have to sift through all the Big Dig dust the outgoing AG kicked up with great fanfare. Then, she must build a case out of it. (Boston Globe, 12/10/06)

Reilly says neglect was criminal

Declaring that a fatal tunnel ceiling collapse in Boston last summer was "a crime," Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said yesterday that his office's investigation into the July 10 death of Milena Del Valle has convinced him that people and companies connected with the tunnel's construction should face manslaughter charges. (Boston Globe, 11/28/06)

Key ramp reopens after ceiling work

Just in time to whiz holiday travelers from Logan International Airport, the milelong ramp from the Ted Williams Tunnel to Interstate 93 in Boston opened just after 4 p.m. yesterday. (Boston Globe, 11/23/06)

'Stem to stern' study finds Big Dig roads mostly safe

A comprehensive engineering review of Boston's highways, tunnels, and bridges, ordered after the fatal collapse of a tunnel ceiling in July, has found the road system to be "fundamentally safe," Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday. (Boston Globe, 11/18/06)

Safety margin for tunnel was smaller than most, US says

The Big Dig tunnel ceiling that collapsed in July was designed with a smaller margin of safety than other tunnel ceilings around the country, leaving nothing to prevent heavy concrete slabs from falling on a passing car when ceiling bolts fell out, according to a preliminary report by federal investigators obtained by the Globe. (Boston Globe, 11/1/06)

Grand jury gets tunnel collapse

A special grand jury convened in Boston this week to begin hearing testimony from workers, managers, and others involved in the construction of the Big Dig tunnel that collapsed in July, killing a 38-year-old Jamaica Plain woman. (Boston Globe, 10/5/06)

Romney: Sumner Tunnel's ceiling crumbling

Much of the concrete ceiling in the Sumner Tunnel is crumbling and in danger of falling after years of neglect, Governor Mitt Romney warned yesterday, and drivers already frustrated by Big Dig tunnel closures will probably face more backups when the major airport-to-downtown route is repaired. (Boston Globe, 9/27/06)

Traffic flows, but a truer test is to come

The region sidestepped commuting chaos yesterday as the first post-Labor Day workday since the summer's Big Dig tunnel closures passed without the major problems some officials feared. (Boston Globe, 9/6/06)

Governor Romney says connector needs more supports

The I- 90 connector tunnel needs hundreds of diagonal steel hangers to support its ceilings in case of earthquakes, the third major safety flaw in the tunnel that will require extensive repairs. (Boston Globe, 9/1/06)

Months more of tunnel repairs

State officials acknowledged yesterday that repairs on the Interstate 90 connector tunnel will take several months and unveiled what they called a comprehensive plan to handle post-Labor Day traffic. (Boston Globe, 8/31/06)

Family sues Pike, 9 firms over death

The daughter and husband of Milena Del Valle , the Jamaica Plain woman who was crushed to death in July by falling ceiling panels in the Interstate-90 connector tunnel, filed a lawsuit yesterday against nine companies and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority in a case legal observers believe could bring record punitive damages. (Boston Globe, 8/30/06)

State set to seek more for tunnel repair work

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board of directors appears poised tomorrow to authorize spending up to $15 million to repair two Big Dig tunnels, reflecting the unexpectedly widespread safety problems investigators have discovered since the fatal ceiling collapse last month. (Boston Globe, 8/29/06)

Facing Big Dig detours, Boston schools add buses

Boston public schools will add more than two dozen buses to its fleet of 611 this fall to help cut the amount of time students are stuck in traffic stemming from the continued closure of a Big Dig tunnel. (Boston Globe, 8/24/06)

Key ramp may stay shut past holiday

Big Dig and state highway officials disclosed yesterday that unanticipated repairs mean that a key westbound ramp connecting the Ted Williams Tunnel to Interstate 93 is unlikely to open until well after Labor Day, prompting state and local transportation officials to develop plans to prevent massive traffic jams after college students return. (Boston Globe, 8/23/06)

Prober urges Big Dig lawsuit

Prompted by last month's ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel, a retired judge who previously investigated the project urged Governor Mitt Romney to pursue a $150 million lawsuit filed against the project's main contractor. (Boston Globe, 8/22/06)
David Frances

Big Dig? Big deal

Far from being an object of anger, frustration, and humiliation, the Big Dig mess is simply another given in the noble history of our unusual region. (Boston Globe, 8/21/06)

Big Dig officials chose not to retest

Several ceiling bolts came loose in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel while it was under construction in 1999, even after they passed a safety inspection. But project documents show that officials overseeing the Big Dig chose not to retest most of the bolts. (Boston Globe, 8/20/06)

Big Dig firm warns tests might do damage

The former project manager for the Big Dig's main contractor has cautioned state officials that safety tests on the epoxy bolts upholding concrete ceiling panels in the Ted Williams Tunnel may have damaged their long-term integrity. (Boston Globe, 8/10/06)

Connector ramp to Logan reopens

A key route from the South Shore and South Boston to Logan International Airport reopened, the first major Big Dig ramp to be repaired since the ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 8/9/06)

Two more Big Dig sites get repairs

State engineers worked to repair ceiling bolt fixtures in two new locations along a Big Dig route connecting South Boston to Logan International Airport. (Boston Globe, 8/8/06)

Greenway projects lose more ground

Fallout from the collapse of a Big Dig tunnel is expected to delay the opening of the first parks on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway by six months until next spring. (Boston Globe, 8/5/06)

Ex-Big Dig safety official admits he sent memo

A former safety official for a Big Dig contractor who has said he wrote a memo in 1999 warning that the ceiling was unsafe acknowledged last night that he mailed the document to the Globe with another man's name and address on the envelope as the sender. (Boston Globe, 8/4/06)

Big Dig firm calls warning a fake

A Big Dig construction company denied receiving a memorandum that a safety officer said he wrote in 1999 warning that the ceiling could collapse and said the document appeared to be fabricated. (Boston Globe, 8/3/06)

Two ramps may open by Labor Day

Governor Mitt Romney said he hopes to reopen two major Big Dig tunnel ramps by Labor Day, potentially cutting commuting backups by nearly half. (Boston Globe, 8/2/06)

Insurance could ease Big Dig costs

The Big Dig has at least $800 million in insurance coverage that would pay for much of the repair bills, inspection costs, and lawsuits stemming from the deadly tunnel ceiling collapse. (Boston Globe, 8/1/06)

Governor vetoes $31m for Greenway

Governor Mitt Romney has vetoed $31 million for the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the 27-acre ribbon of parks and development being built in downtown Boston.

US urges full review of Big Dig

A top federal transportation official is raising concerns about the adequacy of the state's Big Dig safety review. (Boston Globe, 7/29/06)

A vacancy at the helm

Governor Mitt Romney turned his attention to replacing Turnpike Authority chairman Matthew J. Amorello, who announced his resignation under pressure following the death of a passenger crushed in a Big Dig tunnel. (Boston Globe, 7/28/06)

US agency eyes blasting as reason for loose bolts

Federal investigators are examining whether blasting at a nearby office construction project jostled loose epoxy-secured ceiling bolts in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel. (Boston Globe, 7/27/06)

Safety memo foretold tunnel tragedy

The on-site safety officer for the Interstate 90 connector directly warned his superiors that the tunnel ceiling could collapse because the bolts could not support the heavy concrete panels. (Boston Globe, 7/26/06)

Three more loose bolts in tunnel

New problems were discovered in the Ted Williams Tunnel when state inspectors found three loose bolts holding a ceiling panel over one westbound lane. One of the bolts had pulled out of the ceiling by half an inch. (Boston Globe, 7/25/06)

Big Dig's design firm deflects blame

Bechtel Corp., one of the world's largest construction and engineering firms, has few equals when it comes to wielding political power and fending off enemies. (Boston Globe, 7/24/06)

Massport rejects parts of Big Dig

The Massachusetts Port Authority is refusing to take ownership of a 3/4-mile section of the Ted Williams Tunnel and a nearby elevated ramp leading into Logan International Airport. (Boston Globe, 7/23/06)

Problems with bolts reported in 1994

More than 4 percent of ceiling anchor bolts failed strength tests after being installed in the Ted Williams Tunnel in 1994, and the company installing the drop ceiling complained that the problem was at least partly caused by air pockets in the concrete roof. (Boston Globe, 7/22/06)

Romney closes eastbound tunnel

Governor Mitt Romney closed the eastbound Ted Williams Tunnel, saying emergency repairs were necessary because two bolts holding up a ceiling panel were loose. (Boston Globe, 7/21/06)

Tourism damage control

Welcome to Boston -- a city that's trying to keep the Big Dig from ruining your visit. (Boston Globe, 7/20/06)

Safety testing of bolts questioned

Investigators are examining the possibility that some bolts anchoring the Interstate 90 connector tunnel's ceiling never underwent required safety tests. (Boston Globe, 7/19/06)

Workers doubted ceiling method

Field tests indicated that bolt-and-epoxy fasteners might not support the multi-ton ceiling panels in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel, but the system was used anyway. (Boston Globe, 7/18/06)

Another key connector shut

Yet another crucial link between Interstates 90 and 93 in the heart of Boston has been closed after inspectors found about 40 potentially dangerous bolt fixtures. (Boston Globe, 7/17/06)

Big Dig role poses opportunity, risk for Romney

Mitt Romney seized responsibility for another crisis: the fatal failures last week of the $14.6 billion Big Dig. (Boston Globe, 7/16/06)

Nationwide search begun for other flawed tunnels

Federal highway officials have sent out a nationwide appeal seeking to identify other tunnels that rely on the same bolt-and-epoxy ceiling fasteners.

Many more flaws detected; Romney to take over probe

More than 240 loose ceiling bolt fixtures are scattered throughout the Interstate 90 connector tunnel. (Boston Globe, 7/14/06)

Investigators say 60 bad bolt fixtures found

Inspectors have found at least 60 faulty bolt fixtures that supported the ceiling of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel. (Boston Globe, 7/13/06)

Mass. crisis of confidence

With a Big Dig flaw now responsible for a death, state officials rushed to contain an unprecedented crisis of public confidence in the project. (Boston Globe, 7/12/06)

The Victim: Milena Del Valle


The scene

Key NTSB Documents (PDF files)

NECN video