There's more bad news for Big Dig designers and builders as Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly recently filed a civil lawsuit in Boston's Suffolk Superior Court alleging negligence by several companies that led to the death of Milena Del Valle, a Jamaica Plain, Boston resident. Del Valle was killed on July 10 when a 4,000-pound concrete ceiling slab in the I-90 connector tunnel collapsed and fell on the car in which the 38-year-old mother of three was a passenger. Named in the lawsuit were Big Dig construction manager Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, general contractor Modern Continental and designer Gannett Fleming Inc. According to reports, the concrete ceiling was supported by bolts that were drilled and epoxied in place in the tunnel's roof structure. Also named in the lawsuit were companies that supplied the epoxy and the ceiling bolts — epoxy manufacturer Sika Corp., epoxy wholesale company Powers Fasteners and epoxy distributor Newman Renner Colony Inc. The suit, filed on behalf of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Highway Department, reportedly allows the attorney general to seek $150 million in damages from the construction manager, plus additional damages from other defendants. Bechtel/Parson Brinckerhoff received about $2 billion for its work on the project. With a cost of $14.6 billion, the Big Dig is the single most expensive public works project in U.S. history.
Construction is underway in Exeter, N.H., on a $4.7-million affordable housing project. North Branch Construction of Henniker, N.H., is construction manager for Squamscott Block, being built for New England Workforce Housing, LLC. The new building will be located in downtown Exeter at the site of an existing parking lot. Due to its location near a bank, the town hall and a church, the housing will be completed in three phases designed to keep the bank in full operation during construction. Featuring a steel frame and a concrete parking deck, the four-story, 32,600-square-foot building will house 2,600 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 30 apartment units on the remaining three floors. Architects Archetype, PA of Portland, Maine, called for a brick veneer and precast concrete to blend the housing with existing structures in the area. Construction will be completed in fall 2007.
A $30-million elementary school is under way in New London, Conn., by Skanska USA Building Inc., construction manager. Designed by architect Friar Associates of Farmington, Conn., the 79,000-square-foot C.B. Jennings Elementary School has a structural steel frame with concrete decks, masonry wall construction, aluminum curtain walls, and metal gable roof with a bow string truss roof over the gymnasium and cafeteria. Abatement and demolition of an existing three-story concrete and masonry school and temporary modular classrooms are part of the project, which is scheduled for completion in September 2007. In related news, Skanska USA Building Inc. has just finished construction of the $22-million Science and Technology Magnet High School in New London. Skanska provided construction management services for the 70,000-square-foot, three-story high school, located next to the existing New London High School.