"The Big Dig" Gets Recycled


When people residing in and around the Boston area hear the words "The Big Dig" they either laugh or shudder. The $14.6 billion dollar project was first proposed in the 1980s and with the groundbreaking in 1991, the goal was to change Boston's downtown roadways to make it easier for traffic to get in and out of the city. Now, 15 years later, the project is finally coming to an end and we have to say the new roads are definitely more convenient. Paul Pedini worked for 11 years as vice president of Modern Continental Construction, one of the project's principal contractors. He now lives in a 4,300 square foot home he refers to as The Big Dig House that was completed this past March. The house, located in Lexington, Mass., incorporates 600,000 pounds of recycled materials from The Big Dig. It's built from highway panels and bridge piers salvaged from what's known as the largest public-works project in the history of the United States. Because the project had no more use for so many of the materials, administrators didn't want to pay to store the slabs so landfill was the other option. But for Pedini, burying perfectly good materials didn't make sense. In his home, two concrete Inverset panels (which once formed part of a temporary ramp leading to Boston's Tobin Bridge) hang in the rafters while a 27-inch-wide painted girder (that once helped support slurry walls along Storrow Drive) now helps brace the home's 69,000-pound roof. "It's kind of like Junkyard Wars meets Habitat for Humanity," Pedini commented. The Big Dig House was the winner of the first Metropolis-sponsored Next Generation competition. For more information and photos of other materials used, visit ::Metropolis Magazine