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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Big Spill

Watching Deval Patrick in command at the MEMA bunker in Framingham, it was almost inevitable for a political junkie to start thinking about the politics of a massive break of a six-year-old water line that serves metropolitan Boston.

A cool head in a crisis is no guarantee of electoral success -- just ask Mike Dukakis about the Blizzard of '78. But it's more than the face time as a leader in charge that works in Patrick's favor. It's the fact the water line in question was conceived in 1995 during the Bill Weld administration and put into service during Mitt Romney's term. With a construction team that included Parsons Brinkerhoff.

In other words, Big Dig Redux.

The MWRA boasts about the Metrowest Water Supply Tunnel, proudly proclaiming:

Until now, MWRA has relied on a single 1940's-era surface aqueduct, the Hultman Aqueduct, to serve all of Metro Boston. With its leaks and aging valves, the Hultman needed to be taken off-line for major repairs.

Before the Metrowest Tunnel, failure of the Hultman could have caused nearly complete interruption of Boston's water supply. This would have been a disaster for the region's public health, safety and economy.

Well guess what: the failure of the 2003 Metrowest has caused a serious interruption of Boston's water supply. The saving grace is the ancient City Tunnel and the once-seemingly redundant, now vital Chestnut Hill and Spot Pond reservoirs.

Expect a "stem-to-stern" review similar to the one that followed the ceiling collapse in the Central Artery Tunnel. And expect a renewed look at the role of the Weld administration and its administration and finance chief in the cost and quality of those projects. You know, a guy named Charlie Baker.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stick a fork in Charlie Baker cause he's done.

May 02, 2010 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parsons Brinckerhoff didn't have anything to do with the pipe that leaked.

The project was large (17+ miles) and was (appropriately) broken up into several contracts and the part Parsons had a role in was a tunnel out in Marlborough. On the pipe, I think it was Stone and Webster who did the construction management, Jacobs that did the design, and Barletta (sp?) that did the installation.

On big projects like this one it isn't uncommon for it to get split up like that so you never necessarily know from that list of firms who did what where without a little digging.

May 04, 2010 9:27 AM  

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