BOSTON – The most widely publicized attempt to rejuvenate a city scarred by an elevated expressway concludes today: Boston’s Big Dig has officially come to an end. The underground tunnels replacing the above ground I-93 are now fully operational.
To give you an idea of the scope of this kind of project, Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential candidate who lost spectacularly to George H.W. Bush in 1988, was ending his term as Massachusetts governor when the Big Dig started.
As an Associated Press article describes, it was a construction project to rival anything an urban environment has ever seen. At $12 billion and five years late in arrival, its story involves engineering wonderwork, corruption, and a tunnel collapse that led to a manslaughter charge against a contractor.
The actual mechanics of the Big Dig are probably well-known to engineering enthusiasts, as they faced the problem of trying to create an underground expressway without de-stabilizing the elevated expressway that still lay above it.
While all underground aspects of the project are finished, about 18 months of above ground work remain, including the final destruction of what remains of the expressway. The project will open up 30 acres of land in the downtown core.
Also check out a series of photos on Flickr dedicated to the new green space created by the Big Dig.