BOSTON-In what is becoming almost a ritual for the Big Dig, the massive highway construction project going on in the heart of the city here, its officials disclose that the beleaguered project will suffer additional delays.

Over a month ago, a leak sprung near the Fort Point Channel, causing one of the most major problems in the project’s history as it flooded the tunnel with nearly 25,000 gallons of water a minute. Initially officials with the project said that the leak would not cause severe delays in the project but fixing the leak has proven tricky and will reportedly push the project back at least six weeks–which comes on top of other delays.

The Fort Point Channel complications push back the opening of the I-90 connection to Logan International Airport which in turn delay the planned November 2002 opening of Route 93 northbound and also serves to drive costs even higher. This makes the project’s 2004 completion date less likely and could potentially drive up the costs of the project, which has already ballooned to $14.5 billion from $8 billion.

Meanwhile a Massachusetts Turnpike Authority member–the body overseeing the Big Dig–has threatened to hire an engineering firm to oversee Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering firm in charge on the Big Dig. Others have insisted that the firm should pay millions in reparations, contending that the budget overruns are due to the company’s mismanagement of the project. Reportedly, the Authority’s battle with the firm could end up being decided in a courtroom.

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