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The Big Dig

There is a cynicism that hangs over the topic of American infrastructure — whether it’s high-speed rail or off-shore wind — it feels like this country can’t build big things anymore. No one project embodies that cynicism quite like Boston’s Big Dig. Infamous for its ever-increasing price tag, this massive highway tunneling effort became a symbol of waste and corruption. Yet the project delivered on its promise to transform the city. So how did the narrative go so horribly wrong? And what lessons can the Big Dig offer for the ambitious projects of today?

This nine-episode series is produced by GBH News and hosted by Ian Coss. Listen below and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

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  • In the early 1970s a radical idea took shape: tearing down Boston’s elevated downtown highway, and rebuilding it underground. But making it happen will require a grand bargain between two competing tunnel projects, and between bitter enemies.
  • There is a strange irony behind the Big Dig: the most expensive highway project ever built in America began with a man who hated highways. This is the story of Fred Salvucci’s journey into activism, during what is perhaps the most transformative anti-highway movement in the nation’s history.
  • Can America still do big things? Can we build the ambitious projects we will need to survive climate change and improve our cities? This 9-part series looks for clues in the story of the Big Dig – one of the most notoriously troubled infrastructure projects in American history. The nine episode series, produced by GBH News and hosted by Ian Coss, will be released weekly, beginning September 27th.

Producers: Ian Coss and Isabel Hibbard
Editor: Lacy Roberts
Editorial Supervisor: Stephanie Leydon
Fact-checking Review: Lisa Wardle, Elena Eberwein, Sam Dieringer and Jeb Sharp
Music, mixing and sound design: Ian Coss
Project Manager: Mei Lei
Archival Support: Peter Higgins
Executive Producer: Devin Maverick Robins

More about the Big Dig