Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Costa Rican woman dies in Boston when tunnel roof collapses

Milena Delvalle died in Boston, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Iobel Navarro)Boston, Mass. (AP) - Twelve tons of concrete fell from the ceiling of one of Boston's Big Dig tunnels, crushing a Costa Rican woman in a car and again raising concerns Tuesday about the integrity of the massive highway project in the central artery through the city.

The car's driver managed to crawl through a window to safety, but his passenger was killed when four of the massive concrete panels hit the vehicle, authorities said.

The accident was near the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel, which runs under Boston Harbor to Logan International Airport.

The debris and the potential for more panels to fall shut down the tunnel shortly before midnight and backed up traffic for miles during the Tuesday morning commute. Authorities hoped to reopen it midday Wednesday but were still inspecting at least 17 other sections of the tunnel system and removing about 30 ceiling slabs from the accident site.

The $14 billion Big Dig highway project, which buried Interstate 93 beneath downtown and extended the Massachusetts Turnpike to Logan Airport, has been criticized for construction problems and cost overruns. There have been water leaks and at least one incident when dirt and debris from an air shaft fell onto cars.

In May, prosecutors charged six current and former employees of a concrete supplier with fraud for allegedly concealing that some concrete delivered to the Big Dig was not freshly mixed.

The victims were identified by State Police as newlyweds Milena Delvalle, 38, a native of Costa Rica, and Angel Delvalle, 46. Angel Delvalle was treated for minor injuries.

The two were headed to Logan Airport to pick up his brother and sister-in-law, who had been vacationing in his native Puerto Rico.

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