Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Big Dig Boondoggle turns tragic..

Most of us midwesterners only know about the Boston Big Dig from the political related articles on it for the last ten years. There were huge cost overruns and charges of crony-ism and rumors of kickbacks.

Well, most of us old-timers know that where there's smoke there's fire.. and the 'Big Dog-gle' has bit everyone associated with it. And some who were just using it.
“The fact that this actually failed is extremely troubling,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, adding that federal guidelines require that such suspension systems be able to carry eight times the load being supported.
“ The collapse of the ceiling, which killed 38-year-old Milena Del Valle of Jamaica Plain, was caused when a 3-ton ceiling slab gave way and caused three adjacent slabs to buckle and crash to the roadway with it, officials said.

Obviously, there was a failure in either quality control, design or construction,” he added. “We cannot allow people to go back in these tunnels until we know they’re safe.”
Big Dig boss Matt Amorello said engineering consultants, along with state and federal inspectors, are reviewing the project’s entire infrastructure. He also said Massachusetts Turnpike officials are examining their own records to determine whether concrete ceiling panels and the steel tiebacks holding them in place were stress-tested before being installed.

Boston Herald.. more

It's all well and good to review the 'tieback' system, and whether they were adequately tested...but we can pretty well guess what the findings will be.

The tunnels will be either partially or completly shut down for another 18 months while 'corrections' are made.

But there's a bigger issue or question:
Who the hell designed this thing!!!! I'm not a structural engineer but to install what is essentially a suspended CONCRETE SLAB ceiling seems to me the height of stupidity.
Didnt these guys ever study Roman viaduct design... and wouldnt they understand the significance of the architectural ARCH?!!! Note, in fact, the root of the term 'architecture'!

Tiebacks as I understand them serve as a back-up to structural self-support, and would keep a primary structural failure limited in effect.
Depending on the location and purpose of this 'tieback' system, the early take seems to make them NOT tiebacks but 'anchor bolts', which is a whole different thing.

I'm betting that the BIG review of the project will point not only to substandard materials and construction methods but basic design flaws, as well.

Which, of course, is to be expected when those doing big public projects are too cozy with an entrenched political machine. Which is nothing new and it's certainly not the first time it's happened. But it will certainly end up being the most expensive corrupted public works project, ever.

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