BOSTON (AP) – A state review board investigating cost overruns on the Big Dig construction project has targeted as much as $102 million in possible repayments, according to a published report.

The Boston Globe based that figure on its review of a state report, submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. According to that report, the state is about to begin settlement negotiations with designers in two cases.

The state board is undertaking 10 separate fact-finding reviews of specific contracts, each focusing on a segment of the $14.6 billion highway construction project.

The Globe said its review of possible mistakes in the 10 ongoing reviews totaled more than $102 million, including $65 million attributed to extra costs involving tunneling near the MBTA Red Line platform at South Station.

The report does not offer estimates of potential refunds, but includes an inventory of 396 project cost increases attributed to possible error or omission in project design or management.

State officials declined to comment on the status of cost recovery efforts. But a spokesman for Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Big Dig’s private-sector managers, expressed confidence that its work would stand up in the review.

“We are proud of our work and confident that it will withstand the scrutiny of a professional cost recovery review,” he said. “We have always been committed to and willing to participate in a process that is professional and objective.”

A Globe series in February concluded that roughly $1 billion in Big Dig cost overruns could be tied to Bechtel’s errors or poor decisions. Bechtel officials denied the firm has made any errors for which it could be held financially responsible.

The project, which is about 92 percent completed, is burying two miles of Interstate 93 underneath downtown Boston, replacing an elevated highway. It is expected to be completed by 2005, making it one of the largest and most expensive public infrastructure projects in U.S. history.

AP-ES-08-02-03 0634EDT



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