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Big Dig Fix: Duct Tape

The Federal government has a soft place in its heart for duct tape - that indispensable flexible can-do-it-all wonder that works great on everything but ducts. First, NASA puts duct tape aboard the Space Shuttle (to give the astronauts false hope, kinda like oxygen masks aboard airliners? h/t Tyler Durden).

Now, the Feds want to use duct tape to help repair Boston's Big Dig. Sadly, not kidding here.

Look up the word 'boondoggle' in any dictionary, and this is what you will find:


The Big Dig is a salient example of 'project inflation' - "Although the project was estimated at $2.5 billion in 1985, when the last major highway section opened in December 2003, over $14.6 billion had been spent in federal and state tax dollars as of 2006."

A passenger in a car was killed and the driver injured on July 10 when a ceiling panel collapsed in a Big Dig tunnel. It is sad and pathetic when a federal project grows so big and expensive, that the very size and expense of it demands that it be completed to keep it from being a complete waste. It is tragic when such a bloated federal project actually kills someone. Apparently the epoxy bolt hangers were not strong enough to hold up the panels - and there are 1,146 bolt hangers that now need to be replaced.

69% of people polled said they would avoid using any part of the Big Dig system. The Big Dig is now officially radioactive.

Bruce F. Webster at And Still I Persist has the complete roundup of the Big Dig Crumble fiasco as of late, including such hits as

"Inspectors keep finding more problems, and more of the Big Crumble has been shut down."

"MTA chief Amorello has filed [suit] to keep his job — he’s using public funds to pay for the law firms representing him."

"Back in 1999, a Big Crumble safety officer warned that the concrete ceiling panels might collapse."

Bruce's extensive Roundup of Roundups can be found here.

So just remember that when John Kerry says something really silly like "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," he was no doubt talking about duct tape, 'cause it fixes everything.

Federal engineers are on the job!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 26 July 2006 04:49 PM


I live in boston and drive through the thing every day. as an aspiring libertarian, it's hard to admit, but really it's an example where private industry and competitive markets didn't result in greater checks and balances. QUITE the contrary.

Posted by: lester at July 26, 2006 06:23 PM

And here I thought it was duck tape. As in, quack. Learn something new every day, after all.

Posted by: Will Franklin at July 26, 2006 07:07 PM

That duck tape really comes in handy! HA!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 26, 2006 07:14 PM

Will, I know you aren't alone with that - you just have the gumption to admit it is all.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at July 26, 2006 07:42 PM

Big dig fix: duct tape... That is really hard to say 3 times really fast.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 26, 2006 09:06 PM

Silicon sealant. A little Plumber's Putty, some Bond-O, and some JB Weld and we will have that thing fixed up good.

The good news is that it for the most part only kills people from Massachusetts and anyone smart enough to escape the Tax and Spend and Gay Marriage capital of Blue State America is already safe. Darwin's Law of Natural Selection for people that want to live in a big government utopia.

I don't know why the people of Massachusetts have a problem with someone being killed in a dark, wet place. If the woman was killed by a publicly funded abortionist's fork in the third trimester, there wouldn't be any outrage.

Sorry, I guess that was about heartless, but this is the reality when government becomes the means to ensuring fairness to everyone and to solving all of Boston's ills with more bloated public interest schemes. Take tax dollars and allow government to invest them in some boondoggle, but make sure that it is the rich's money that you are taking. Whoever the rich folks there are that are paying the highest marginal tax rates to donate their money to this fiasco, I feel empathy for you. Get out of Mass while the getting is good.

Posted by: Justin B at July 26, 2006 11:22 PM

Thank goodness you posted the picture of Red Green (and crew) at the bottom - the one true authority on all things duct-tapable!

Posted by: Ironman at July 27, 2006 08:54 AM

justin- thank you for not living here with us

Posted by: lester at July 27, 2006 11:10 AM

I get my thanks every single paycheck and year end when my property tax bill comes. For all the tax money that Mass spends on projects like this, I hope you feel you got your money's worth.

Posted by: Justin B at July 27, 2006 03:34 PM

Hey, I'm a Federal engineer - and I haven't worn plaid flannel shirts to work for a couple of decades. The pocket protectors wouldn't fit. Do you know what engineers use for birth control? Their personalities! Har har har.

But seriously, I can't speak for Massachusetts, but in this part of the country (Utah) the state Department of Transportation is responsible for design and construction of all highways, including Interstates. The money may come from the Feds, but the states do the spending. So you may be directing your scorn at the wrong branch of the government.

Posted by: sam at July 29, 2006 02:33 PM