Friday, August 17, 2007

It's Time to Take Out a Second Mortgage

If anyone read today's big story in the Boston Globe, it isn't one that inspires a whole lot of confidence in a project few had confidence in anyway. Let's take a look at the major problems a review of the Big Dig project has revealed:

  • Warped plates (that hold the suspension cables in place) on the Zakim bridge. The state says it isn't a problem, the feds disagree. Anyone want a third opinion?

  • The Ted Williams Tunnel's ceiling is still held up by epoxy, which can melt from extreme heat. The current national standard for tunnels is to withstand a fire coming from a truck, but not two trucks. Big Dig officials complain that a stricter standard should apply nationally, not just in Massachusetts. They're right, of course, but that won't help if two trucks collide and burn, heading for the airport.

  • Mitt Romney's "stem-to-stern" review was rushed and can't be trusted. Gee, who'd a thought?

  • Though this isn't exactly a part of the Big Dig, the ceilings in the Sumner tunnel is "decaying." Yikes.
So, add this list to the crumbling Longfellow Bridge and Storrow Drive tunnels as well as dozens of other disasters-waiting-to-happen across Massachusetts's aging ancient infrastructure... and I don't see what choice we have other than to take a big gulp and spend the billions it takes to fix all this stuff. Sure, even my kids that won't exist for years may be paying for some of it, but I'm sure they'd rather a little debt than the scary alternatives.


bobneer said...

Is money really the issue, do you think? After all, we spent an enormous amount on the Big Dig and wound up with the problems you cite. What makes you think that a "second mortgage" would solve the problem.

Ryan Adams said...

If you know of a way to fix all of our problems for free, let me know. I'll start the Bob-Neer-for-President campaign with haste.

Money is certainly an issue, but clearly not the only one. There was a lot more political will, I'm sure, to start a wide-sweeping project that would get rid of the central artery and forever change Boston's landscape, replacing rusty bridges with picturesque parks. It isn't so politically sexy to fix the Longfellow Bridge and countless other necessary projects across Massachusetts - though, collectively, they'll cost way more than the entire Big Dig (which, in all reality, was almost a second mortgage for the state and one of the reasons why we may need to take out a one today).

Lastly, I don't think our state should go into huge debt to pay for these works. I'd rather bite the bullet and face a few years of higher taxes, but good luck convincing the public that thinks such expenses are anathema to their liberty when it's the very thing that provides the them roads to get to their jobs that actually affords them their liberty.

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