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Big Dig: Reshaping an American City

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In Boston Harbor, a barge maneuvers a huge floating section of steel tunnel into place, then sets it gently on the harbor floor. In downtown Boston, one hundred and twenty feet underground, construction workers build an underground expressway. High above the Charles River, workers place ten lanes of roadway on what will be the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Boston will never look the same. What is going on?

Since 1991, Boston has been the scene of the largest public ...

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Overview

In Boston Harbor, a barge maneuvers a huge floating section of steel tunnel into place, then sets it gently on the harbor floor. In downtown Boston, one hundred and twenty feet underground, construction workers build an underground expressway. High above the Charles River, workers place ten lanes of roadway on what will be the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Boston will never look the same. What is going on?

Since 1991, Boston has been the scene of the largest public construction project in United States history. The Central Artery/ Tunnel Project -- the "Big Dig" -- is the solution to problems that for decades have caused major headaches for people driving in and out of this major American city. Since the project began, engineers, architects, and construction workers have been laboring to fix these problems and make Boston a better, cleaner place. In the process, they are changing forever the face of the city.

In The Big Dig: Reshaping an American City, photographer Peter Vanderwarker takes us behind the scenes of this complex, awe-inspiring project. We discover how traffic in Boston got to be so bad in the first place, and how poor planning led to an elevated highway that divided the city and made traffic worse.

The author then brings us to the current construction sites, where we learn about the amazing technology that allows this project to take place as it corrects the mistakes of the past without unduly disturbing a crowded urban area. Have you ever heard of tunnel jacking? Slurry walls? Immersed tunnel tubes? The lively, informative text accompanied by remarkable photographs, illustrations, and maps explains these concepts and also introduces some of the people who have worked on the project. Readers of all ages will be fascinated by this tour of one of the largest and most complex construction projects of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
How complicated can it be to solve some traffic problems? Well, if you're building a new bridge, putting the main downtown expressway underground, and building an underwater tunnel for better airport access in a 370-year-old historic city like Boston, and you are charged with doing all of this while disrupting the normal traffic flow as little as possible, the answer is that it's incredibly complex. This ten-year-long—and still on-going—project involves not just construction, but also preserving historical landmarks and dealing with residents whose lives are disturbed by noise, dirt and other irritations during the process. Mr. Vanderwarker tries to simplify not only the project but also the process. Children with a fascination for science or engineering will find some meaty material here. What is a slurry wall and where would you use one? How do you build a new expressway in a tunnel directly under the existing one—and not disturb the traffic? How do you drop tunnel sections into a river and position them within just one inch of each other? The answers are in these 56 pages, which are loaded with numerous pictures and diagrams. A glossary is included. 2001, Little Brown, $17.95. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: Chris Gill
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The "Big Dig" is the largest and most complex (and some might add, disruptive) U.S. transportation reconstruction project to date. Officially known as the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, the "dig" began in 1991, with an estimated 14 billion dollar price tag and a 20-year time frame, as an effort to solve Boston's massive traffic problems. Separate chapters are devoted to the four major elements of the project: the staged construction of tunnels, bridges and viaducts, aboveground highways, and surface roads and rights-of-way. These nuts-and-bolts descriptions are framed by an informative introduction with pertinent Boston history and a Central Artery timeline and a concluding essay on the relationship between urban infrastructure and quality of life. Vibrant, full-color photographs appear throughout and numerous maps and diagrams are carefully deployed to further enhance understanding of the text. A glossary of 15 construction terms highlighted in the text is somewhat superfluous. Vanderwarker succeeds in reducing a highly complex endeavor to comprehensible parts in a straightforward, lucid narrative. An impressive true-life tale of American ingenuity.-Mary Ann Carcich, Mattituck-Laurel Public Library, Mattituck, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316605984
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 56
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.68 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Something big is happening in Boston ... 4
Under the Harbor: The Ted Williams Tunnel 18
Over a Subway and Under a Railroad 26
Under the City: Building the New Central Artery 36
Out of a Tunnel and Over the River: The Charles River Crossing 44
Conclusion: Maintaining and updating ... 54
Glossary 56
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