Dispute Between MTA and MPA

Staff | September 28, 2010

According to an article in The Boston Globe, a dispute between the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Port Authority over cracks and leaks in the Big Dig construction has cost taxpayers $8.3 million. The Turnpike Authority and Massport have been arguing for years over the quality of a 3/4-mile section of the Ted Williams Tunnel and a nearby elevated ramp leading to Logan International Airport. Massport, which runs the airport, is supposed to take control of the property but has refused to pay the Turnpike for it, contending that the work was not up to standards. The state treasurer ended up making Massport's payments to the Turnpike Authority, a process that cost taxpayers an extra $8.3 million in borrowing costs. Pike officials argue that the value of unfinished work is much lower than the amount that Massport has withheld and that it has been unfairly blamed for the credit problems that forced Massport to borrow money through the state. The Legislature required Massport to pay $365 million to help cover the cost of the Big Dig roads and ramps that serve the airport. Massport paid off the first $160 million on time. The state Treasury became involved after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Massport could not get a loan without the Commonwealth's backing. The state then became responsible for Massport's Big Dig debt and made payments to the Turnpike Authority, relying on Massport to repay the money. But beginning in 2002, Massport delayed and withheld payments to the state because of a dispute about how much work was left to be completed.