Hey — remember the 80's? If you don't, well, that's when Boston city planners started the ball rolling on the massive infrastructure project that came to be called the "Big Dig" — an ambitious effort to reroute I-93 through a tunnel under the city, and to link downtown Boston with Logan Airport through another tunnel. "The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the US," Wikipedia records, "and was plagued by escalating costs, scheduling overruns, leaks, design flaws, charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials, criminal arrests, and one death.The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006). However, the project was completed only in December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars, meaning a cost overrun of about 190%) as of 2006. The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it will not be paid off until 2038." See Wikipedia, "Big Dig," by various authors (footnotes omitted).
Why bring all this up now? Well, Boston needs some other infrastructure upgrades, and the city (and state) are operating under budget constraints at least partially caused by overspending on the Big Dig. Among other things, city planners would like to extend and upgrade the Green Line, notoriously the slowest and least predictable of the MTA's subway and trolley routes, and extend the line into areas currently unserved by trains. And with money short for that kind of thing, it's a problem that the price tag on that idea appears to be rising already. Public broadcaster WBUR has a report (see: Ballooning Cost Throws Future Of Green Line Extension Into Question," by Andy Metzger).
Reports WBUR: "Recently estimated at about $2 billion — which doesn’t include the cost of financing — the full cost of adding seven new trolley stations in East Cambridge, Somerville and Medford could wind up as much as $1 billion over budget, MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola told reporters on Monday. Officials who briefed the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday afternoon are now looking to renegotiate with the contractor and alter the plans."
Said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack: “Everything’s on the table, and everything includes cancelling the project, but that’s not where we want to go, but we need a project we can afford to build.”