Read more on the Big Dig materials failure and see appalling aftermath photos and diagrams at Design News’ Big Dig coverage page.
The family of a woman killed two years ago when the car she was riding in was crushed as a portion of a ceiling collapsed inside a Big Dig tunnel settled a wrongful death suit for more than $28 million last night.
In July 2006, 39-year-old Milena Del Valle was killed when part of the tunnel collapsed onto her car. Her husband survived.
The Associated Press is reporting the main defendants were all companies involved in Boston’s Big Dig project including: Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, Modern Continental Co., Gannett Fleming Inc. and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversaw the project. In total 15 main defendants were named in the lawsuit.
The $28 million settlement includes a settlement amount of $6 million from Powers Fasteners Inc., a company involved in the construction of the I-90 Connector Tunnel. The company was indicted and faced criminal charges in the death of Del Valle last September.
In July 2007, Aggregate Industries NE Inc. the company suspected of supplying the substandard concrete used in Boston’s Big Dig, agreed to pay $42 million to settle civil and criminal investigations. Six managers from Aggregate Industries NE Inc.were indicted in federal court in May 2006, on conspiracy charges they knowingly delivered at least 5,000 truckloads of substandard concrete for use in building the Big Dig’s tunnels, ramps and bridges between 1999 and 2003.
In January 2008, the firms responsible for designing and managing Boston’s Big Dig project reached a $458 million settlement with state and federal officials which would allow these companies to avoid criminal charges in the 2006 fatal tunnel collapse and any civil liabilities with infrastructure problems. Under the settlement terms, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff would pay $407 million and 24 other companies involved in the project would pay about $51 million.
The settlement would keep Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff from facing criminal charges in the death Del Valle.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the July 10, 2006 ceiling collapse in the D Street portal of the Interstate 90 connector tunnel in Boston was the use of an epoxy anchor adhesive with poor creep resistance – the epoxy formulation was not capable of sustaining long-term loads. The report released after the hours-long hearing last month said over time the epoxy deformed and fractured until several ceiling support anchors pulled free and allowed a portion of the ceiling to collapse. The use of the inappropriate epoxy formulation resulted from the failure of the contractors to identify potential creep in the anchor adhesive as a critical long-term failure mode and to account for possible anchor creep in the design, specifications and approval process for the epoxy anchors used in the tunnel.