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It’s too bad Wayne Woodlief of the Herald wasn’t around, or if he was, when all the controversy surroudning the Big Dig, construction of a second tunnel to East Boston and the INNER BELT around the city was dominating the political news of the state and city of Boston, he didn’t know what was really going on. In his column in the Boston Herald this morning, Woodlief heaps a mountain of praise on former U.S. and Mass. House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. for fathering and guiding the multi-billion-dollar Big Dig fiasco through the nation’s capital and now wants to name the final leg of the Mass Turnpike connection to the Ted Williams Tunnel after him. In his column, Woodlief praised Congressman Barney Frank of Newton for backing the Big Dig, alias the depression of the Boston Central Artery. When Frank was working for the White administration, he thought the burying of the Central Artery, since tabbed the Big Dig by ad agency people paid big bucks to string motorists along, was a joke. It was Rep. Frank who once observed that it would be cheaper “to raise the city of Boston than depress the Artery.” He wasn’t far off! It was O’Neill who killed the Inner Belt which would have made the depression unnecessary and allowed motorists coming north from Routes 3 and 24 to circumvent downtown Boston with their links to the Melnea Cass highway in Roxbury across the Charles River over through a section of Cambridge (whoops) and reconnect with northbound routes like 3, 93 et al. And the praise Woodlief paid Dukakis Transportation Secretary Fred Salvucci who was anti-motorist and against any expansion of the state’s highway program, shows how shallow his grasp of recent Bay State political history is. Woodlief also adopts the line the ad men try to sell us that the original cost of the Artery job was estimated at $2.5 billion. Not so. The Artery project began with a $1 billion price tag. But the PR boys who want to eugolize Tip have been inflating it, as if $2.5 billion isn’t enough.

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