BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) today announced the unexpected end to closings of tunnel sections in Boston's troubled "Big Dig" highway system. Several tunnel sections have been shut down since July 10, when a three-ton concrete ceiling ‘tile' fell, killing a passenger in a car at the Ted Williams Tunnel/ Mass. Turnpike interchange. Governor Mitt Romney ordered the shutdowns pending inspections of the entire system, and any needed repairs.
Inspectors have since found nearly 200 flaws in tunnel ceilings, and estimate that it will be months before repair work is complete.
"That's why we're going ahead and reopening the tunnels," an MTA spokesperson explained. "These shutdowns are causing chaos in downtown traffic. They're a real incovenience to commuters, especially in the middle of summer. Even worse, we're taking a big hit at the toll booths. Daily revenues are off over 40-50% at some toll stations. We just can't afford that, not with construction overcharges - I mean overruns - lawsuits, and everything. We know it's a gamble, but we've come up with an attractive way for travelers to share that gamble with us."
To lure wary motorists back into the Big Dig, the Turnpike Authority is launching a "Dare The Big Dig " lottery game, in conjunction with the Mass. Lottery Commission.
At Big Dig toll booths drivers will receive a "Big Dig Double-Dares You" lottery ticket along with their toll receipt. Drivers who survive to collect six tickets will win a free trip, $100, and entry into the "Double-Dare" phase of the game; cash prizes double each time a driver makes it through another six trips.
"It's a lot like Russian Roulette," the spokesperson said. "We figure the odds are about the same,
one chance in six for a vehicle to be hit by falling concrete. But let's be positive: that's five chances in six to survive. Those are pretty damn good odds, compared with other lottery games you can play. And we feel there'll be an edginess about this game, the kind of adrenalin rush you just can't get from Powerball or all-in poker. "