January 24, 2008 in Nation/World

Firms to pay $450 million in Big Dig tunnel death

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

BOSTON – Contractors will pay more than $450 million to settle the state’s lawsuit over a fatal tunnel collapse and to cover the costs of leaks and design flaws in the Big Dig, officials said Wednesday.

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consortium that oversaw design and construction of the nation’s costliest and most complex highway project, has agreed to pay $407 million, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said in announcing the deal. Several smaller companies will pay about $51 million collectively.

Under the settlement, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff will not face criminal charges in the deadly Interstate 90 tunnel ceiling collapse in July 2006. Milena Del Valle, 39, of Boston, was crushed by 26 tons of concrete as she and her husband drove to Logan International Airport.

State officials will be able to seek additional damages from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff if a future accident causes more than $50 million in damages.

Sullivan said Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, which managed the project over 20 years, made $150 million in profit from the Big Dig.

“They lost money as a result of the failures that occurred under their watch,” Sullivan said.

The settlement does not have a direct effect on a separate lawsuit filed by Del Valle’s family.

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