Mass. State Troopers May Want Big Dig Mulligan

Massachusetts State Police are investigating whether a group of golf-loving troopers who apparently set up a driving range inside a Big Dig facility were on the clock while practicing their golf swings.

Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, said that state police officials confirmed that a group of 12 to 14 troopers assigned to a motorcycle unit hung netting inside the third floor of a large ventilation building used for the infamous tunnel project near Logan International Airport.

"There was a golf net up there," Carlisle told ABC News. "It's not an acceptable use of space funded by taxpayers."

Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman John Cogliano, who was brought in by former Gov. Mitt Romney to rectify the embarrassing public works project -- the most expensive of its kind in the history of the United States -- contacted Col. Mark F. Delaney, the superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, about the net.

"Accountability is absolutely necessary when it comes to the Big Dig," Carlisle said. "That's why when [Cogliano] found out about the existence of a driving range, he reacted immediately."

Word of the golf range came to the attention of state officials after a local investigative reporter called Carlisle Wednesday night to ask about the range.

The state police responded that they had taken down the net a couple of weeks ago and that they would investigate further to see if any officers were golfing while on the clock, according to Carlisle.

The Turnpike Authority, a state-run department that does not keep any employees in the ventilation building but owns the facility and allows the state police to use it as a base, will conduct its own investigation to determine whether turnpike officials were also working on their golf game.

Multiple calls to the Massachusetts State Police by ABC News were not returned.

The driving range is just the latest in an embarrassing string of public relations black eyes for the Big Dig project.

In July part of a tunnel ceiling collapsed, killing a motorist and forcing the resignation of the Turnpike Authority's former head.

Meanwhile, the state's attorney general has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether charges should be filed in connection to the collapse.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the state agreed to a final price tag for the project: $14.798 billion. That number had risen from the previous total of $14.625 billion. The project, which replaced the city's aging Central Artery, was pitched in the mid-1980s for $2.6 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, the state will cover the additional $210 million, but after that's it's up to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority -- and therefore motorists paying tolls on the Mass Pike -- to generate revenues to pay for any additional overruns.

Less than two weeks ago, the Massachusetts attorney general announced a $58.5 million agreement with insurer American International Group to recoup $26 million plus interest in money owed to the state over the past 15 years.

On top of shoddy design and massive cost overruns, the Big Dig has steadily become a symbol for government waste -- plagued by allegations of favoritism and corruption.

"It's the imagery," said Barbara Anderson, head of Massachusetts Citizens for Limited Taxation and a longtime critic of the project. "A driving range? It's as if Massachusetts says, 'How outrageous can we be?' and then, 'Let's top that.'"

And while it's Massachusetts taxpayers who now bear the brunt of the Big Dig's malfeasance, it's the rest of the country who gets a laugh at the Bay State's expense.

"Other states don't even think about doing the things we do," Anderson said.

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