The nightmare commute for many people in the Boston area is almost over:
With a tellingly simple ribbon-cutting ceremony, the last underground segment of Boston’s Big Dig project opens Friday – completing major construction on one of the most complex and controversial engineering projects in human history.
It may not look as dramatic as the Hoover Dam, but the revamp of traffic flows in one of America’s oldest cities rivals any past US public-works project in complexity – and outpaced them all in cost.
Its effects will be felt for decades and far beyond Boston: It is changing commuting habits here, may influence the prospects for any similarly large-scale efforts in the future, and has hit the pocketbook of almost every taxpayer in America.
But the Big Dig’s scale – at its peak it employed 5,000 construction workers – was rivaled by high costs that have been a source of controversy since the project’s inception in 1987 – after President Reagan tried unsuccessfully to wield a penny-pinching veto pen.