Boston Big Dig Project Sample Assignment


This report aims at analyzing and discussing the facts related to the procurement and financial issues identified during the development of the Boston Big Dig Project. This report emphasizes on the mistakes and underestimation delivered during the development of this project and how negligence and unwanted circumstances had completely change the objective and other constraints of the project. Big Dig became the world famous project as the schedule and budget of the project was drastically enhanced as the budget was enhanced up to more than five times of the estimations and schedule was increased by the three times of the estimations. There were many lagging factors during the development of the project that needed prior considerations however; the executives does not show concern on the factors and thus, sink the project for the very long time. This report presents the factors those have stopped the project from being delivered within the time and the responsible stakeholders who might have stopped it from being ruined.

This report also presents the continuous development of the project within a timeframe and thus emphasizes on the learnings those could be gathered from this example (Peleskei et al., 2015). This project can be a better example for the learners to understand the facts those could affect the proper delivery of the project and thus, could lead to the failure. A lesson learning section has also been introduced within this report to understand the facts associated with the experience that could gathered from this project failure.

Boston Big Dig

It was known as the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T) and it was one of the mega project that was delivered for the construction of the Ted Williams tunnel. It was one of the biggest failure project of the US, which had many flaws, and drawbacks bringing it in the name of the biggest project loss (Lewis, 2017). Since the project already failed in delivering the needed output, there’s no way t change the past however; the experiences gained in this project and gathered learning can be utilized to make the world better in present and future. The expected time and budget of the project very much more than the expectations and planning. It became the world famous project because of the enhancement in the targeted cost that was estimated to be $ 2.6 Billion and ended at $ 14.8 Billion (McCollum, 2015). Other than that, the project was estimated to be over within four years however, the lags in the schedule and major flaws the project was dragged until 2007.

Issues in Boston Big Dig Project and their Impacts

All the expectations and estimates made in the beginning of the project were very brighter and concise according to the NASA and they concluded that “no single catastrophic event or small number of contracts caused costs to escalate (Nicholas and Steyn, 2017). Multiple decisions by project management across all contracts contributed to the increment in the cost.” Following were the causes of the escalation in the cost and expected schedule:

The primary fault was the estimation of the materials of the grounds those were not as expected and the management team fails in delivering these estimations. The underground materials and surfaces were completely different from the estimations made in the prior of the planning (Persons, 2017). The project was about to be delivered in a busy city and many anticipations were found irrelevant than the thoughts and had to face many unanticipated circumstances.

Those came into account during the development of the project as it includes archeological discoveries, uncharted utilities, environmental problems, ground-water conditions, hazardous materials, weak soil, and many more. It also faces many issues regarding to the health and safety issues, unexpected change in the milestones and schedules, and continuous change in the design.

After that, the discovery of the 150 years old artifacts was another cause that diverted the stakeholders from the objectives of delivering the project towards restoring the history and culture of the Native American groups (Rolstadas et al., 2014).

Besides all the facts mentioned above, underground utility protection was another estimated very badly and led the project towards facing many unwanted circumstances. The age of the buildings were estimated improperly and thus, the utility programs had to be relocated at different place (Mangioni, 2018). It makes the transportation of the utilities costly as the relocated utility source was established at 29 miles from the previous and construction of the work. During 1996, around 36 companies were responsible for the relocation of the utility programs and providing continuous supply of the gas, electricity telecommunication, and many more (Pinto and Garvey 2016). The estimated designs were delivered without considering the previous underground constructions and sever that lead to the leakage in the water pipes, sever and thus, lead to the flooding and damages in many sector. Federal Reserve Building was  shut down due to this development and thus, it affected the financial system of the country for unexpected time.

The project management team was also responsible for such enhancement in the budget and the schedule as the project was heavily relied on the integrative and collaborative decision-making (Helbrecht, 2016). However, different decisions at different levels without having any consistency and precision affect the project to be delayed so much. During 1998 July, the project construction was almost completed up to 46% and 99 percent of the design was completed, after that the project was completely oriented with proper integrative and collaborative decision-making (Arcand, 2016).

There were many communication gap between the external and internal stakeholders that was another lagging factor for the growth and development of the project (Siebenmann, Yu and Bachus, 2015). There were 110 in total managers involved within the project for the successful delivery of the project, who were intensely complicated legal, technical and economic and many of the procedures and processes were based on the complex regulatory scheme. Big project might face some complex processes but facing many complex processes made it difficult to understand everyone on how to drive the project in right direction. This lead to the wrong estimation of the cost and schedule of the social and community involved during the development of the project (Kim et al., 2018). There was not any precaution plan against the total cost investment on dealing with the numerous regulatory agencies, auditors, media, neighborhood stakeholders, and community interests.

Timeframe of the Big Dig

Following table describes the timeframe of the whole development and closure of the project with respect to the time and budget:

S.L no.


Budget (billions)


1983 - 1989

The estimated budget was the 2.56


1989 – 1992

Raised to 4.44


1992 – 1996

Raised to 6.44


1996 – 2000

Raised to 10.84


2000 – 2003

Raised to 14.08


2003 – 2007

Finally delivered at 14.63

This is how continuously new estimations were made and the major problem could be stated as the consideration of the types of material available underground. The above factors express how the development of the project was stuck within these factors and there was no one to bring it out from the “river of the fall (Glied, 2017).” However, due to so many lagging factors, the project was finally delivered with several losses and is now capable of delivering the needs and requirements of the common citizens.

Lessons learned from the Boston Big Dig

Mega projects do related to the series of the uncertain events those could have led to very changes in the planning and development of the project. These projects might face struggle with the technical complexities, unforeseen events, political challenges, environmental challenges, community concerns, and massive regulatory requirements. Following are the specific learnings gain from the Big Dig Project (Geroldi, 2017):

The Project integration has been a critical subject for the successful delivery of the project.

Incentives and Goals should be mutual in manner to incorporate into contracts during the overall lifecycle of the project in manner to ensure the safety, , financial soundness, and quality a commitment for the delivery of the project within the expected budget and schedule.

“Doing things as they have always been done does not work for complex projects that require constant innovation and a culture of collaboration (Admiraal and Cornaro, 2016).”


Based on the above report, it can be concluded that the project could have been delivered within the estimated time if the proper considerations were made and more time was invested on planning the constructions. The major flaw was the consideration of the type of material available underground and the surfaces. There were many technological and managerial issues encountered during the growth and development of the project that initializes the need of consideration of the deeds done on the same project and reflect them on other project as a learning and eliminating the possible lagging factors. Either the project is big or small, there should be proper and effective communication between the stakeholders in manner to make sure that the growth and development of the project is effectively understood by them and ensuring that every considerations have been made correctly and precisely. The research on the big dig is helpful in considering the real world example of the consequences those could be delivered if a single corner has been left. The learnings gain from the project has also been stated in this report as the fact of being the biggest failure makes it a mine of learning and gathering knowledge. The mistakes and learnings gain in this report can be utilizing for delivering a better project in present and future through eliminating these lagging factors and utilizing it as an opportunity.


Following recommendations could be made those could have delivered the project in an efficient and effective manner:

Proper and effective communication: there was communication gap between the stakeholders as stated in the above report and eliminating these factors would be eliminating the misunderstandings and ego between the stakeholders. It would have helped the project manager for the consideration of the facts presented by everyone in the project. Regular meetings and brainstorming programs could be an effective technique for the delivery.

Proper consideration of risks: Many risks were unidentified during the development of the project such as ages of the tunnels, buildings, underground materials and many more those must have been considered while planning the project. This negligence does not stopped the project from being accomplished within the milestones rather it also affected the budget and many reconstructions.

Implementing an Architect Engineer; an architect engineer would might be possible to identify the type of materials and soil underneath the ground and could have suggested earlier in the project.  It would have estimated the ages and other constructing materials those could have led the project within the expected schedule.

Monthly report: Monthly report were prepared but proper considerations were not delivered on the statistics presented in the report as proper and effective attention would have led to leading to the different strategies those would have delivered the project within the expected schedule and budget.

Managing the milestones: Since all the milestones of the project were not being accomplished within the expected schedule and budget that was the main reason behind the failure of the project. If the milestones were some how managed within the expected schedule, it could have eliminated all the drawbacks of the project.

Proper and experienced leadership: The project was also lagging in the proper managerial and leadership attitudes and if the project was under proper leadership, he or she could have managed the project in an effective and efficient manner. He could have estimated the project risks of the construction and these factors would might have protected the project from being failure.


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Geroldi, C., (2017). Spectacle Island: From discarded fill to designed landscape, a ‘natural’-looking park. Journal of Landscape Architecture12(3), pp.16-31.

Glied, S. & Teutsch, S.M., (2016). How can economics advance prevention?. American journal of preventive medicine50(5), pp.S4-S5.

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