BOSTON, MA-Owed millions of dollars by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority for work already completed on the Big Dig Artery project, many contractors are feeling the squeeze of an ongoing argument between acting Governor Jane Swift and two members of the Turnpike Authority’s Board of Directors. The Governor wants the board members fired. And the board, which normally approves contractor payments at its bi-weekly meetings, has not met since Nov. 13.

John Pourbaix, executive director of the Construction Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group representing contractors tells that the lack of payment approval for work already completed has had a ripple effect on the construction economy, with contractors lacking the funds to pay suppliers. “Firms have fully extended their lines of credit and can no longer finance the project,” says Pourbaix. Pourbaix goes on to point out that many of the contractors on the project are “small family- and minority-owned firms” some of whom have taken out second mortgages to continue their businesses. Many small contractors feel that if they are not going to get paid then they should cease work on the project.

The trade group is waiting on the Governor’s response to its letter but do not expect that with such a complicated issue one will be forthcoming. The Supreme Judicial Court of the State of Massachusetts has taken up the issue of the dismissal of the Turnpike Authority board members. Yesterday the court heard arguments from the Attorney Generals office representing the Governor as well as from the two board members.