The four-year-old $14.8 billion Big Dig in Boston is up to its old tricks of behaving like a 70-year-old tunnel. The problem this time around are leaks, which are up 18% over last year after Massachusetts officials pledged to reduce them to a trickle, according to the Boston Globe. Every months, the Big Dig pumps out 2 million gallons of water. In late 2004, the Globe reported that Bechtel officials said the leaks were "normal" and would take a few months to fix. The Globe’s story yesterday shows a partially flooded roadway in the tunnel whose 6-8 lanes wend there way under downtown Boston for about two miles. The leaks relevation comes just after lawyers for the family of the late Milena Del Valle rejected a settlement offer from a mediator representing 15 companies that design, managed and built the Big Dig, the largest highway project ever in U.S. Riding as a passenger, Del Valle was crushed by a suspended concrete ceiling panel that fell on car on the evening of July 10 last year. The project’s main contractor is Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.
As for the leaks, they’ve been reduced from 3,500 to 800 since 2004, but in some cases, the grout patches keep re-opening. It’s amazing they can’t get this given that the project was projected to cost $2.85 billion in 1985.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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