Big Dig or Big Bust  Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

The Big Dig continues to be a source of safety concern, particularly regarding the structural integrity of the concrete ceiling panels. Undoubtedly, this issue has some Bostonians looking up as they drive through the tunnels. However, the ceiling collapse also brought attention to the problem. Although not much was reported about future actions, this would have reasonably triggered an inspection of other parts of the tunnel. Officials are confident about the integrity of the rest of the tunnel and one can rest assured that they do not wish to have any further "incidents" regarding the tunnel.

The construction industry is filled with unknown factors that cannot possibly be foreseen, even with the best planning. The Big Dig was relatively low incident, compared to other construction projects. No one will argue that even one incident is one incident too many, but things happen on other construction projects too. Cost overruns are common, as are unforeseen engineering challenges. The Big Dig had its fair share of these occurrences. The only difference is that the Big Dig was in the public eye from the beginning. It was not page 3 news, it was headline news.

When analyzing the impact of the Big Dig, there are many factors to consider. From a financial standpoint, the project may be termed a big disaster. It is true that there is a considerable amount of sticker shock involved in the Big Dig. However, the Big Dig also resulted in revenue increases for the city. Commuters no longer think of Boston and associate it with traffic jams. The Big Dig allows Boston to move into a new future, one that moves along much more quickly than the old Boston.

Property improvements and business increases are evidence that the project was worth it in the end. Had the Big Dig not been undertaken, Boston would still be riddled with traffic problems. These problems were at the heart of an image that Boston wanted to shake. It wanted to become known for its culture and opportunity, not for its endless traffic jams. When determining the success of failure of the Big Dig, one must consider the tangible and well as the intangible costs and benefits of the project.

Even though the Big Dig had a big price tag, if one considers the increases in property value and taxes that will result, the project will pay for itself sometime in the future. The millions brought in through increased business to previously inaccessible portions of the city will also help with the pay off. However, the entities that originally spent the money may never see payoff, the increases in value are for the people of Boston. Everyone benefits from the Big Dig through increased value and revenues.

Boston is no longer known for its traffic jams. There is no doubt that those who lived through the project and the scandal surrounding it may never forget it. However, this project is for the future of Boston and the generations to come. These generations will not remember the blood, sweat and tears that went into the project, they will only see the results and reap the benefits.

In the end, the Big Dig will stand as a monument to the engineering wonder that it is and to the generation that built it. When one compares it to the building of the Eiffel Tower, we do not know the turmoil that it caused while it was being built, but we do know that it was a tremendous burden to the city of Paris as well. It has been said that it is not the end result that matters, but the process that teaches the greatest lessons. However, in the case of the Big Dig, the process will soon be forgotten, but the monument will stand as a legacy forever.


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Economic Development Research Group. Economic Impacts of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project. February 2006. Accessed November 28, 2008.

Gelinas, N. Lessons of Bostons' Big Dig. City Journal. Autumn 2007. Accessed November 28, 2008.

Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Project Background. Big Dig. Accessed November…

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