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Governor seeks to take control of Big Dig inspections

BOSTON --Gov. Mitt Romney on Thursday said he is filing emergency legislation that would give him control of inspections in the Big Dig tunnel where cement ceiling panels collapsed, killing a motorist, and the ultimate decision on reopening the tunnel.

Romney has started legal proceedings to remove the chairman and chief executive of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the massive $14.6 billion highway project.

"There should no longer be any doubt that the Turnpike Authority has failed to do its job effectively," Romney said.

The legislation would give the executive branch the authority to oversee the inspection of the failed ceiling system in the tunnel, which has been closed since the accident Monday night.

The legislation also directs the executive branch to carry out a "stem to stern" safety audit of the Big Dig project. Romney is asking for $20 million for that.

The bill contains an emergency clause for it to take effect immediately upon passage. Romney said he met with Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi earlier in the day, but would not say how they reacted to his idea.

"I'm looking for a decision on this today," Romney said.

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