‘Big Dig’ tragedy reflects corruption
Published Aug 24, 2006 10:19 PM
Milena Del Valle
didn’t get the chance to greet her loved ones at Logan International
Airport on July 10. While traveling with her spouse to the airport, Del Valle, a
working-class Costa Rican living in Boston, was crushed to death when three-ton
concrete ceiling panels in the Inter state 90 tunnel connector let loose and
fell on the couple’s car. Angel Del Valle survived with minor physical
Ongoing investigations since the tra gedy have found many
structural design flaws. One of the most serious: The bolts used to secure the
panels weren’t capable of supporting their weight for the length of time
the general contractors, the Bechtel Group and Parsons Brickenhoff, said they
The Laborers and Iron Workers unions, among others, had raised
concerns about these flaws for years. They were ignored.
billionaire Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, his 2006 Democratic gubernatorial
opponent and the state’s attor ney general, Thomas Reilly, and other
politicians have postured to deflect blame for Del Valle’s death and the
thoroughly flawed Big Dig from themselves, their offices, and the capitalist
bosses and bankers.
For them, billions of dollars are at stake—not
only in Boston but throughout the United States and
Still, they and many others, from Mas sa chusetts to
Washington D.C. and beyond, are culpable for this entirely preventable disaster.
The whole Big Dig project has been so rife with corruption, cronyism, graft,
nepotism and wholesale criminal negligence from its inception that the weekly
Bos ton Phoenix headlined a July 28 article “A Handy Guide to the Big Dig
To this day, despite over 15 years of Big Dig malfeasance
reporting by the Boston Globe and other corporate media, state legislative
investigations and more, not one politician or capitalist responsible for the
death of Del Valle and the theft of billions of local, state and national
taxpayer dollars has been arrested, charged or imprisoned.
What is the
Billed as the biggest and the most expensive
civil engineering project in U.S. history, the Big Dig was meant, according to
planners, to build a highway underneath Boston. Billions of dollars of
commodities now flow annually through the Big Dig freeway arteries or those
connected to it. The primary beneficiaries are the military-industrial complex,
Big Oil, the affluent white suburbs and tourism.
In 1985 the Massachusetts
state legislature awarded the Bechtel/Parsons Brinck erhoff partnership the Big
Dig contract to design and manage the project along with other
Originally, the partnership was under the direct control of
the state legislature. But in 1997 the legislature moved the project to an
“independent” authority, and created an “integrated project
organization” that joined the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and B/PB
together as co-owners of the project.
Part of the reason for the switch
was the exposure of former Massachusetts Gov. Wil liam Weld’s collusion
with B/PB. For one thing, Weld’s top aide, Peter Berlandi, was also
Bechtel’s liaison to Weld’s administration.
partnership estimate for total Big Dig construction was $2.6 billion. In 2003
taxpayers had already footed $14.6 billion for the Big Dig’s ostensible
“completion.” This made it the most expensive public transportation
project in U.S. history, at $1.8 million per mile.
According to a February
2003 investigative series by the Boston Globe, on more than 3,200 occasions
since 1991, the state paid extra money to contractors to compensate for Big Dig
design flaws based in un-centralized capitalist chaos.
guaranteed Bechtel’s profits —even on work required to correct its
mistakes on the cost overruns.
Privately owned Bechtel, based in San Francisco, has 40,000
employees worldwide. The corporation reported revenues of $18.1 billion in 2005.
Bechtel built the Hoo ver Dam in the 1930s, and oversaw construction of the
English Channel rail tunnel connecting Britain and the continent. The company
has won thousands of big contracts from the U.S. government, especially during
World War II, as well as from other nations and corporations
Individuals embedded within Bechtel’s imperialist nexus
have included former Bechtel president and current Bechtel board member George
Schultz, who was secretary of state under Ronald Reagan; former Bechtel general
counsel Casper Wein burger, who was Reagan’s defense secretary; and
Bechtel consultant William Casey, who was head of the Securities and Exchange
Commission under Richard Nixon, head of the Export-Import bank under Gerald
Ford, Reagan’s campaign mana ger and head of the CIA under President
Bechtel faces protests because the Bush administration awarded it
contracts worth tens of millions of dollars for Iraq reconstruction without
putting the contracts up for bid, and because of its response to Hurricane
Katrina, which includes an alleged $48 million in double-billing for maintenance
of temporary housing trailers. The corporation is also involved with water
privatization, building nuclear bombs and plants, and providing
Facing criticism over its Iraq and Katrina actions, company
spokesperson Michael Kidder, said, “The huge scope of these projects, and
some are first of a kind, are bound to cause some wrinkles along the way, and
they become lessons learned.” (www.august6.org)
According to the
Arms Trade Resource Center, Bechtel compiled “the most complete
mineralogical and geographical data of the former Zaire ever assembled,
information worth a fortune to any prospective mining or oil firm.”
Bechtel also “commissioned and paid for U.S. National Aero nautics and
Space administration satellite studies of the country for infrared maps of its
A real alternative needed
people’s commission composed of labor and community organizations as well
as individual working-class and oppres sed people is needed to investigate the
Big Dig project and determine who is criminally negligent. Once a judgment is
rendered by such an independent body, it should have the power to imprison the
guilty parties and work out and determine all needed repairs and reparations to
taxpayers, including Del Valle’s loved ones. Perhaps this body could be
called the Milena Del Valle commission.
This body could also address the
critical questions of how the catastrophic effects of this disaster could have
been avoided, and how to reduce needless suffering and loss of life through a
system of centralized, planned organization based on mass participation as
exists in Cuba.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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