Lessons from Boston's Big Dig

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When the Big Dig idea first surfaced 20 years ago — the plan to put Boston’s ugly old elevated highway underground — the soon-to-be Congressman Barney Frank said: rather than lower the expressway, wouldn’t it be cheaper to raise the city? It seemed expensive at the original $3-billion dollars budget: now approaching 12 or 15, on the way to 20-billion dollars, Boston’s Big Dig is among the most complex and surely the costliest highway projects in the history of the world.

The men who built the Panama Canal had mudslides and malaria to contend with. The builders of the trans-Alaska pipeline faced vast distances and bitter cold. But the highway engineers who’ve threaded Boston’s big artery 12-stories deep under subways and sewer lines met the monster of Massachusetts politics, and cost overruns that won’t quit. A construction marvel on the scale of the pyramids, or maybe the Vietnam of highways?
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts

Tom Palmer, reporter for The Boston Globe

Jane Jacobs, author of Life and Death of the American City

Michael Kelley, Project Director of the Big Dig.