The Road to Hell: The Corruption and Malfeasance of Boston’s “Big Dig”

By Michael W. Smith.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The cost of Boston’s “Big Dig” has ballooned to over $15 billion. In September 1983, this 7.5 mile highway project was originally proposed with a completion date of 1995 and for a cost of $2.2 billion. In 1980, a Special Commission Concerning State and County Buildings (know as the “Ward Commission”) filed a final report that concluded that corruption was a way of life in Massachusetts where political influence, not performance, was the criterion for doing business in Massachusetts. While some of the Ward Commission’s recommendations were enacted into law, many important recommendations, especially the elimination of the filed sub-bid system and campaign finance reform, were not enacted. To date, besides several journalistic books and scholarly articles by engineers, there has been an absence of scholarship on the “Big Dig” by social scientists. Utilizing government documents, research and investigative reports, and other secondary sources, this paper will explore and analyze how the failure by Massachusetts governmental officials to implement the recommendation of the Ward Commission, and their promotion of a culture of malfeasance and political corruption, has resulted in the most costly and sub-standard public works project in the history of the United States.

Keywords: “Big Dig”, Malfeasance, Corruption, Political Corruption, Central Artery Tunnel, Ward Commission, Public Works, Bechtel

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.193-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 560.565KB).

Dr. Michael W. Smith

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Saint Anselm College, Malden, NH, USA

Dr. Michael W. Smith is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hamphsire, USA. He teaches course in Race & Ethnic Relations, Law & Society, Criminology, and the Sociology of Terrorism and Genocide. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has practiced civil rights and criminal defense law. He is co-authoring a book on Wrongful Convictions.


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