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Boston Tunnel Accident

(AP) A woman was killed when part of the ceiling in a Big Dig tunnel fell on a car in South Boston, and a man believed to be the driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, authorities said.

The $14 billion Big Dig highway project, which buried Interstate 93 beneath downtown and extended the Massachusetts Turnpike to Logan Airport, has been criticized for construction problems and cost overruns that state officials have said did not compromise safety.

State Police Trooper Kara England said the tunnel was shut down until state safety engineers could assess its condition after the 11 p.m. incident. Authorities later also closed the connector's westbound side.

Shortly after the accident, at least three large pieces of debris, tilted slightly at one side, could be seen lying across a lane of the roadway about 100 feet from the end of the connector tunnel. The site is near the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel, which goes under Boston Harbor to the airport.

There have been water leaks in parts of the tunnel system and at least one incident when smaller amounts of dirt and debris from an airshaft in another section of the tunnel system fell onto travel lanes, causing minor damage to cars.

In May, prosecutors charged six current and former employees of a concrete supplier with fraud for allegedly concealing that some concrete delivered to the Big Dig was not freshly mixed.

State and federal officials said any effects on maintenance would likely be long-term, and did not pose an immediate safety threat.

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Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

This program aired on July 11, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.

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