The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 April 2007

Now they tell us

Robert Burns warned us about the best-laid plans of mice and men. Now just imagine what happens when the plans aren't quite so well-laid:

I-40, after it is demolished and rebuilt a mile south in 2012, was originally to be more than 20 feet below ground level so it wouldn't obstruct the view or be an unwanted barrier between north and south downtown.

State Transportation Department engineers recently learned the ground isn't strong enough to hold the new road if it is built more than 6 feet below ground level.

You've done a heckuva job, guys. And while we're at it: remember when this project was supposed to be finished in 2008? What's this "2012" business? A bad idea four years delayed is a bad idea made more expensive.

Sheesh. I'm ready to turn the whole project over to Halliburton. At least when they screw up, it isn't buried on page 10A.

Posted at 3:11 PM to City Scene

So if Boston had the Big Dig, that must be the Little Dig...

Posted by: Jay at 6:26 PM on 22 April 2007

Since the soil can't support a basement around here I'm surprised that it can't handle a MULTI-TON FREAKING INTERSTATE!!!!!

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 10:46 AM on 23 April 2007

Actually, we've long since named it the "Little Big Dig" -- and the longer it goes, the clearer it is that it will live up to the nickmane. Hopefully, the "Little Big Dig" will be ODOT Director Gary Ridley's "last stand." It was Ridley who told me a couple of years back -- when I asked him how he justified the non-responses to many intelligent concerns that have been pressed about this project -- "Well, Tom, there was a time when we didn't even have to ASK you what you thought."

ODOT spokespeople always talk about all the groundwork they did in the years-long buildup to this debacle. I tell you again as I've said many times before -- I was there. It was a bunch of baloney. It was entirely plain that the decision as to the actual route of the new road had already been made -- and that all "public input" was being methodically diffused, deflected and diverted.

Plainly, an entire "industry" has grown up amongst the bureaucrats of the city, state and nation teaching them how to waste a lot of the public's time sending attempts at serious input around in circles. They put the public in the equivalent of hamster cages -- and then go do whatever it was they were going to do anyway telling the public "they were part of it."

Just how heedless were they? Well -- as you can now see, they apparently didn't bother to check the soil first to see if it would support such a deal.

They sold this mess as a "$236 million project." We knew very well -- and insisted -- it would cost at least $500 million. Only lately have they admitted the project cost will be in excess of $557 million -- but now the real cost of completely redesigning a project that should never have been located in this corridor in the first place may well rise to over one billion dollars.

They said we don't need Union Station. We don't need transit. Now Mick Cornett and his merry tricksters are reportedly insisting we DO need it -- but centered around an all new "Transportation Center" to be built near the current site of the Producers Coop Cottonseed Oil Compress.

Some insiders and former insiders say ODOT is considered "off limits" to the State Auditor and Inspector's Office. If so, why?

From what I've seen, I have to say it seems to me that it's time to flip this unaccountable agency over, shake it thoroughly and prosecute the fallout.

Suffice it to say that the "engineers and planners" who put this mess together would never, never, never invest their families' own money in such a project.


Posted by: Tom Elmore at 8:07 PM on 24 April 2007