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February 15, 2008
Big Dig's Lewis on the road to Rhode Island DOT
Michael P. Lewis, the controversial director of Boston’s embattled Big Dig construction project, is coming to Rhode Island.
Lewis will take over as head of the state’s Department of Transportation next month, assuming the title now held by Jerome Williams who is moving to the Department of Administration, Gov. Carcieri announced today.
Lewis retired from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority at the end of November, having served with the agency for more than 20 years before becoming embroiled in the controversies that plagued the final stages of the massive $14.8 billion construction project.
He oversaw the authority’s response to the dozens of leaks found in the city’s main tunnel, and continued to lead the project following the death of motorist Milena Del Valle who was killed in the Interstate 90 tunnel collapse in 2006, Lewis led that investigation and battles that followed.
In an interview today, Lewis, 46, was frank about the project’s troubles. “Are there controversies with the Big Dig? Absolutely,” he said. “The most important and most obvious is the fatality in 2006. Everybody who worked at the Big Dig up to and including me will always be affected by that. It’s something that shouldn’t have happened. It’s a failure of the system that should never have happened.”
Despite that, he says he continues to be “very proud” of the project, calling it “an enormous undertaking that has delivered what was promised” by improving transportation in and around Boston, making for easier airport access and removing the city’s unsightly Central Artery.
The Carcieri administration declined to directly discuss Lewis’ role in the Big Dig though it issued a statement saying Lewis helped move the massive project “from disarray to completion in seven years.”
“As the project director of the Big Dig – the largest and most complicated transportation project in American history – Mike Lewis has the talent and the experience necessary to help Rhode Island maintain and improve the state’s system of highways and bridges,” Carcieri said. “Rhode Island major highways and bridges will require serious rehabilitation in the coming years.”
The shift in leadership in DOT was part of a major shakeup in the governor's inner circle announced today.
-- Cynthia Needham, Journal State House Bureau
Deputy Chief of Staff John R. Pagliarini has been replaced in a change that shifts Department of Administration Director Beverly Najarian into Pagliarini's job.
It appears that Communications Director Steve Kass may be replaced as well. The governor has hired former state House of Representatives candidate John Robitaille as a "senior adviser --communications," and said that the restructuring would not result in "a net addition in staff." The governor's office could not immediately clarify Kass's status.
Kass is on medical leave, Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal said.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 5:49 PM | Permalink
janet | February 15, 2008 6:50 PM link
Dave | February 15, 2008 8:32 PM link
incredulous | February 15, 2008 8:48 PM link
bill | February 16, 2008 12:12 AM link
Dave | February 16, 2008 6:59 AM link
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