Published on:

Big Dig safety review highlights road defects as potential cause of Massachusetts car accidents

Safety concerns remain in Big Dig tunnels, nearly five years after a high-profile incident in which a 28-year-old motorist was killed in a 2006 Boston car accident caused by collapsing ceiling panels, the Boston Herald reported.

The chronic problems plaguing the Big Dig are a glaring example of road defects causing or contributing to Massachusetts traffic accidents. But a variety of safety hazards frequently contribute to serious traffic accidents, including inoperable traffic control devices, missing signs, poorly maintained roads and overgrown vegetation, which can obstruct the view of oncoming traffic or signs and traffic control devices.

While the report found that Massachusetts has done a good job of implementing safety improvements following the accident, the Highway Administration needs to do a better job in three areas: Ensuring the safety of ceiling anchors in the Ted Williams Tunnel; improving fire preparedness, and assuring the accuracy of concrete viaduct calculations.

The Review was prompted by the July 2006 accident, in which several 4,600-pound ceiling panels broke free, crashing into a passenger car and killing a 38-year-old Boston resident. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded the accident was the result of the wrong type of epoxy used to hold the ceiling bolts in place.

The Big Dig has also been the site of a number of serious and fatal Boston construction accidents. Though, while the City Journal reported insurance calculations initially estimated 40 serious construction accidents would occur over the course of the project’s history, the Dig has reported less than half that many serious or fatal work accidents.