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BOSTON-The cost of the Big Dig will go up again, according to the Turnpike Authority, which manages the massive highway construction project in the heart of the city. The authority also acknowledges that those figures could go up even further in the next few weeks.

The project’s price tag is now up to $14.4 billion, according to Rita Strazzeri, spokesperson for the Turnpike Authority. The $150-million increase is because the project has taken a “hit on its reserve fund,” Strazzeri tells GlobeSt.com. The reserve is normally $400 million but has dropped to $250 million. “That figure is as of today,” she says. “The estimate is based upon what we think we’ll need for construction claims. We are still waiting for the final numbers to come in.” The increase is based on the Authority’s internal review. Deloitte & Touche is doing a final review in which the figures could be different.

Strazzeri also acknowledges that those figures could change after this Tuesday when the largest of the remaining construction contracts–tearing down the elevated Artery and preparing the surface land for Downtown parks–is put out to bid. That bid, originally estimated at $406 million, is now reportedly up to $440 million, and there is concern that the bids could go even higher than that. “That could have another hit on the contingency,” notes Strazzeri.

What is especially surprising about this recent revelation is the speed in which Big Dig officials revealed to the public its financial goings-on. Previous Big Dig CEOs were mired in controversy when their cost overruns were not revealed. J. Richard Capka, the latest Turnpike Authority CEO, has pledged to be different. “We’ve been trying to be completely open,” Strazzeri points out. “Capka made a pledge that as soon as anything was discovered we would announce it.”

While this is a novel approach for the Big Dig, it will probably not solve its problems any more effectively. Both the federal and the state legislature have stated that they will not provide any more funds for the project. Additional revenue will have to come from a toll hike this January but, as Strazzeri says, “we are not sure if that can cover the costs.

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