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BOSTON-Massachusetts Turnpike Authority officials unveiled the new finance plans for the Big Dig, the massive highway construction project in the heart of the city here. The plan is disclosed as recent cost estimates put the costs of the project at $14.475 billion–$400 million above last year’s projections.

It was assumed that additional toll hikes–beyond those already tentatively scheduled for this coming year–would be required to cover the costs of the overruns. But Rita Strazerri, spokesperson for the Turnpike Authority, tells GlobeSt.com that a portion of the project would be funded by selling real estate along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

According to the plan released by the Authority, the base cost of the project is $13.981 billion with a $494 million contingency fund that comes to the $14.475 current price tag. Last year’s cost estimate was $14.075 billion. The primary funding sources for the cost overruns will be a $175-million transportation infrastructure fund, which will be a restructuring of the fund for registration and motor vehicle licensing fees. An additional $150 million will be provided by the state bond cap and $75 million will come from the future sale of Big Dig headquarters at 185 Kneeland St. The Authority states the property’s appraised value is $100 million.

Unconfirmed reports say the state bond cap was made possible because $150 million in Federal highway funds that couldn’t be spent on the Big Dig were given to the statewide road and bridge project and exchanged for the $150 million in additional debt capacity. The Federal Government has mandated an $8.5 billion cap on its spending for the Big Dig but reportedly, Big Dig officials state that the Federal Highway Administration signed off on the exchange.

The financial plan also identified secondary funding sources, including an additional $117 million of potential revenue through development of real estate along the Turnpike. This money could potentially be used to offset future cost overruns.

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