Debt from Big Dig hampers Mass. transportation

April 9, 2012 • Business

In this April 5, 2012 photo, demonstrators hold a vigil in front of the Statehouse in Boston, as they protest MBTA service cuts and fare hikes. The tunnels and bridges have long since been built, but Boston’s massive and oft-maligned Big Dig project has left a legacy of debt in Massachusetts that many contend is crippling the state’s overall transportation network. Big Dig debt was cited as one of the reasons why the MBTA was forced last week to raise fares and cut some service. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON (AP) — For nearly a decade, traffic has been zipping through Boston’s Big Dig tunnels, the nation’s costliest highway project that has also left a gaping financial hole in the state’s transportation budget that isn’t likely to be filled anytime soon.

“Big Dig debt” has lately become one of the most frequently used — if not fully understood — terms in Massachusetts government. It was at the forefront of a tumultuous public debate over the MBTA’s finances that ultimately produced an average 23 percent fare hike and modest service cuts, but no permanent solutions for the chronically underfunded transit system.

Next year, it could spark a debate over whether to raise taxes to fix not only the T but deteriorating roads and bridges across the state.

“The Big Dig debt has never been dealt with, and it’s squeezing our ability to do a bunch of other things that we need to do to sustain the economy and the quality of life here,” Gov. Deval Patrick told a gathering of regional Login to read more

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