In the gloom of winter, it is hard to see potential amid the strips of brown grass and pavement that lie where this citys hulking elevated highway used to be.
But with the $15 billion construction project known as the Big Dig officially over as of last month, the promised transformation of downtown Boston not just its traffic patterns but also its look, its feel, its very essence finally seems within reach.
Expectations are high, and for good reason. The Big Dig drained not only public coffers but also the psyche of Boston as it replaced the traffic-choked highway with sleek tunnels over nearly two decades. The construction forced hellish traffic jams and proved faulty, with the new tunnels springing hundreds of leaks and worse. Four workers died during the construction, and in 2006, concrete ceiling panels in one tunnel collapsed and killed a woman in a car.
Where the highway used to be is now a milelong green space with benches, fountains and fledgling trees ready to welcome pedestrians come spring. Where the highway cut off waterfront neighborhoods from the rest of the city, there is now a clear view to Boston Harbor, the Italian North End, the New England Aquarium and the wharfs that surround it. Continued…