'Big Dig' ceiling collapse charges dropped

May 9, 2009 at 12:48 PM
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BOSTON, May 9 (UPI) -- A Cambridge, Mass., company says it feels vindicated by prosecutors' decision to drop charges against it in Boston's "Big Dig" tunnel collapse.

U.S. officials admitted Friday they didn't have enough evidence to charge Modern Continental Corp. with responsibility for the 2006 collapse of a 3-ton concrete ceiling panel in a new tunnel connecting Interstate 93 with I-90 -- a mishap that killed car passenger Milena Del Valle, The Boston Globe reported.

But in a plea agreement, the company reportedly did plead guilty to 39 federal charges of overbilling and lying about construction defects on the project, a $22 billion highway construction project through historic Boston that came to be known as the "Big Dig."

Modern's lawyers argued consistently the company wasn't responsible for the ceiling collapse, which they said happened because a New York company supplied the wrong epoxy for ceiling panels.

Meanwhile, one month after a truck accident knocked out cellphone service to the project's Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. highway tunnel, the problem still hasn't been rectified, the Globe said.

The newspaper reported that cell companies leasing space in the tunnel were to begin repairs Saturday and expected to complete them in early June.

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