I normally don’t pay much attention to anything relating to The Big Dig, but this one was so funny it made me laugh:
It was spring 1997, only a few weeks after he took an engineering job with the Big Dig’s private-sector managers, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, when David Beck realized something was terribly amiss at the then-$10.8 billion project.
The FleetCenter was missing.
Not the actual FleetCenter, of course. The flashy facility had been grabbing headlines since a groundbreaking ceremony on April 28, 1993.
It was the design drawings. Bechtel had failed to depict the 19,600-seat arena in its preliminary designs, which were completed in October 1994, and instead showed an obstacle-free area for contractors to lay utility lines. Bechtel then failed to fix the problem before signing off on the final design drawings three years later. […]
“It fell through the cracks, if you will,” William R. Mayer, a top Bechtel engineer, recently acknowledged.
But even though Bechtel’s gaffe cost taxpayers $991,000, the company never paid a penny back for its mistake. And no one from the state or federal government ever asked.
[…] To date, Bechtel has received more than $264 million beyond what its original contracts called for, in part because Bechtel received additional money to fix its errors, records show.
Hey, forgetting the FleetCenter exists near North Station—it’s the kind of mistake any highly professional civil engineer could make.