Patrick Concerned He Wasn't Told Of Big Dig Lights

Gov. Deval Patrick says he's concerned that Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan waited six weeks before telling him that a light had fallen on the roadway in the I-93 tunnel.

Patrick says he's not the only one who's concerned.

"It's concerning to Secretary Mullan, who has, I think quite appropriately, apologized," the governor said. "Now, I've told my team they can bring me any issue at any time, but I want a solution, too."

A 110-pound light fixture fell onto the road on Feb. 8, missing cars traveling below. After conducting a review of all the lights over Big Dig tunnel roadways, Mullan informed Patrick's staff last week while the governor was abroad on a trade mission. State officials publicly revealed the Feb. 8 incident and resulting investigation Wednesday.

After initially defending his handling of the situation, Mullan said Thursday that if he had to make the decision again he might have let the public, and the governor, know sooner. Mullan had said he wanted to gather more information about the problem before alerting the public.

The decision to hold off stirred criticism from state lawmakers and the public, though Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray told The Associated Press Thursday that he supported the decision to wait until after a full inspection of the other light fixtures was finished before alerting the public to the problem.

Patrick is standing by Mullan.

"He’s acknowledged he made a mistake here, and it’s a significant one, and we’re going to move on from here," he said.

Transportation officials say they’ve found corrosion in about 1 percent of the light fixtures in Big Dig tunnels and are looking for a fix. They expect to finish looking at the lights over the tunnels' walkways in the next week.

With additional reporting from The Associated Press.

Earlier Coverage:

This program aired on March 18, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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