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Big Dig contractors agree to pay $458 million

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff (B/PB) and design consultants will pay the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a total of $458 million to settle allegations of “gross failures” in the oversight and management of the construction of Boston’s Central Artery Tunnel, known as the Big Dig.

B/PB will pay $407 million for mistakes that resulted in the use of defective concrete, thousands of leaks in Big Dig tunnels and a ceiling collapse that killed one woman. Design consultants who made mistakes in construction drawings will pay the remaining $51 million of the settlement.

Over $23 million of B/PB’s payment will go to the United States to settle federal False Claims Act allegations and over $40 million to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to settle state False Claims Act allegations.

The announced settlement drew criticism in the January 24, 2008 issue of the Boston Herald.
Critics were displeased with the fact that B/PB will escape criminal charges; will only be held liable in case of a “catastrophic” incident within the next 10 years; and that liability for such an incident would be capped at between $50 million and $100 million.

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