The Big Dig
The Big Dig
About The Big Dig
There is a cynicism that hangs over the topic of American infrastructure – whether it’s high-speed rail or off-shore wind – it feels like this country can’t build big things anymore. No one project embodies that cynicism quite like what Bostonians call ‘The Big Dig.’ Infamous for its ever-increasing price tag, this massive highway tunneling effort was once ridiculed as the Big Mess, the Big Hole, the Big Pig, the Big Lie. But now, decades later the story looks more complicated. So how did the narrative around this project go so horribly wrong? And what lessons can it offer for the ambitious projects of today?
The nine episode series is produced by GBH News and hosted by Ian Coss. New episodes come out every Wednesday.
It’s been fifty years since the Big Dig was first conceived, thirty years since construction began, more than a dozen years since it was completed – and the final twist is: the project has largely delivered on its promises. How do we reconcile that reality with the scandal and outrage we’ve heard so much about?
In 1991, the Big Dig is handed off to a new leader – the brash, aggressive, hatchet-toting Jim Kerasiotes – who makes it clear he plans to shake things up. The one thing he can’t shake is the equally aggressive private company managing the project. Now they have to work together.
There is a strange irony behind the Big Dig: the most expensive highway project ever built in America began with a man who hated highways. This is the story of Fred Salvucci’s journey into activism, during what is perhaps the most transformative anti-highway movement in the nation’s history.
Can America still do big things? Can we build the ambitious projects we will need to survive climate change and improve our cities? This 9-part series looks for clues in the story of the Big Dig – one of the most notoriously troubled infrastructure projects in American history. The nine episode series is produced by GBH News and hosted by Ian Coss.