Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007 - (Page 12)

Bost How the Big Dig Is W 12 ENGINEERING INC. Fifteen-year project is considered one of the most innovative engineering feats in U.S. history hen the Central Artery that knifed through the center of downtown Boston opened in 1959, the highway could adequately handle some 75,000 cars per day. Through the years, the number skyrocketed to upwards of 200,000 daily vehicles, creating one of the most congested highways in the country. n Traffic snarled for 10 hours per day and the accident rate surged to four times the national average for urban interstates. Similar problems beset the two tunnels under Boston Harbor. Moreover, the Central Artery displaced 20,000 residents when it was built, cutting off Boston’s North End and waterfront neighborhoods from downtown. n Worse, projections forecast that by 2010, stop-and-go traffic jams would stretch up to 16 hours a day. July / AuGust 2007 Something had to be done. The main artery and its secondary tributaries were hemorrhaging, bleeding the life out of the city’s heart—economically and from a quality-of-life perspective. But all that began to change in 1991 when construction crews broke ground on the Central Artery/ Tunnel Project, commonly known as the Big Dig. The surgery was an overwhelming success. Today Boston’s traffic flows smoothly, neighborhoods are once again connected and the economic impact of the project has pumped new life into the heart of downtown. The scope of the project is nothing less than breathtaking. The Big Dig is larger in size than the Panama Canal; engineers had to support existing high-rise buildings, subways and other infrastructure while constructing tunnels and managing traffic flow for more than 200,000 motorists a day. Along the way, project engineers faced formidable challenges. For example, Boston’s weak soil couldn’t support a tunnel, and engineers had to use construction methods that had never before been attempted. Although the Big Dig suffered many of the cost and political problems associated with modern-day

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007

Call for Entries
From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
The Big Dig
Risky Engineering
2007 Professional Liability Survey
Institute For Business Management Fall 2007 Course Catalog
Roadside Technology
2007 Convention Wrap-Up
2007-2008 Excom
2007 Fall Conference Primer
Business Insights
Members in the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007