Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Wolf-Bechtel Connection

From a June 7, 1996 article in the Patriot Ledger:
An influential lawmaker has decided not to recommend limits on federal aid for Boston's Big Dig project in the 1997 federal spending bill for transportation projects. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the House Appropriations' transportation subcommittee, has been a critic of the spiraling costs for the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel. But yesterday, before putting his draft spending plan before his subcommittee for consideration, Wolf said some of his concerns have been addressed, and he would not propose a cost cap. Specifically, Wolf said he received information and assurances from the state and the U.S. Department of Transportation that the program is "now under control." ...The General Accounting Office has estimated that the project, when all expenses are tallied -- including such related projects as connector roads -- will cost $10.4 billion. The initial estimate in 1985 was $2.6 billion.

In the end, the Big Dig project up cost $14.6 billion, obviously a monstrous overrun from the original estimate. As if that's not bad enough, according to Wikipedia it "has incurred criminal arrests, escalating costs, death, leaks, and charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials."

And the main company working on the project? You guessed it, Bechtel -- the same company that received a no-bid deal to work on the rail-to-Dulles project (without a tunnel or open, competitive bidding), thanks in part to Frank Wolf. So what is it with this Frank Wolf-Bechtel connection, anyway?

P.S. It's also fascinating that Wolf was willing to suspend federal cost limits for Boston but not NOVA!

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