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Boston artery back on track for £9.5bn

BOSTON CENTRAL artery, America's most expensive civil engineering project, is back on schedule at an agreed price of £9.57bn.

Slipping programmes and soaring costs have now been stabilised and the project is expected to be completed next year as originally planned, despite huge cost overruns which emerged last year (NCE 14 March 2000).

The project, which involves sinking an elevated highway below Boston and extending interstate highway I90 to the city's airport, is still being programme managed by a joint venture of Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff Last year the firms, which also won big programme management contracts in the UK with Railtrack, were criticised as costs soared from £7.34bn in February 2000 to a final estimate £9.57bn.

The US Federal Highway Administration has approved project client Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's latest costing after a project audit by Delloite & Touche. Federal funding has been set at £5.8bn and the MTA has agreed to raise the rest.

MTA chairman Andrew Natsios, who was credited with restoring credibility after last year's crisis, has stepped down and was last week replaced by a joint team of executive director Richard Capka from the US Engineering Corps and acting project director Mike Lewis.

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