Our opinion: Lessons of the Big Dig


In Lee on Monday, Tyringham Road finally escaped the long shadow of the Big Dig. The South Berkshire connector road, its surface recalling a lunar landscape in the analogy drawn by State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox, finally had its groundbreaking for reconstruction in a ceremony attended by Governor Patrick, Mr. Pignatelli and other officials. The Big Dig was a mess in many ways, high among them its consumption of highway money to the detriment of other road projects. That can't happen again.

The Central Artery Project -- aka the Big Dig -- transformed the center of Boston but at a cost of $14.6 billion, making it the most expensive construction project in U.S. history. Plagued by overruns, overpayments and design flaws, the Dig dragged on from 1991 through 2007.

The Tyringham Road project got the go-ahead in 1995, during the administration of Governor William Weld, and although Mr. Weld and a series of Republican governors denied the obvious and insisted that the Big Dig wasn't sucking up state and federal money designed for other state projects, the rebuilding of Tyringham Road and many similar efforts throughout the state were stopped in their tracks because of the Boston debacle. "The tragedy of the Big Dig is we [the state] concentrated on construction in Boston at the expense of the rest of the state," the governor said Monday.

Later in the day, at an Eagle editorial board meeting, the governor was asked what advice he would give to the Democratic candidates battling to succeed him as he wraps up his second term. The governor chose to extend his advice to candidates of both parties.

"Remember that you're elected to be the governor of the whole state," Mr. Patrick declared. "That includes all the state beyond Route 128."

That was forgotten during the Big Dig, which was finally completed in Governor Patrick's first year in office. A part-time resident of Richmond, the governor knows Berkshire County issues, and while his successor won't live in the county, he or she should take his advice about being a governor for the entire state. That includes those of us in what Bostonians may regard as the wild west.


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