BOSTON - One of Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld's closest advisers said last week that he will no longer be a consultant for the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project.
Peter J. Berlandi, Weld's chief fund raiser and a close friend, said he will no longer be employed as a consultant for the Bechtel Corp., one of the two firms that is overseeing all phases of the large Central Artery project in Boston.
Berlandi said that the decision to end the relationship between himself and Bechtel was a mutual one, now that his role in the project has ended.
Weld's opponent in this year's race for governor, Mark Roosevelt, said that it was a conflict of interest for Berlandi to be raising funds for the governor's campaign from some of the same construction firms involved with the project. But the criticism didn't keep Weld from winning about 70% of the vote.
Part of the problem with Berlandi's role with the Central Artery project, sources in Boston say, was the lack of a public definition of his position. In a release, Bechtel said that Berlandi helped improve the relationship between the construction industry and the politicians.
It is also believed that Berlandi provided the firm with information about community and small business outreach projects.
Neither Beriandi nor Bechtel ever disclosed how much Beriandi was paid for his services.
But several sources in Boston said that part of the reason for the timing of Berlandi's announcement was that a new state campaign finance law goes into effect at the beginning of 1995 that requires consultants to disclose all the companies they represent and all expenses over $35.
Earlier this fall, the Boston Globe reported that Berlandi used his influence in the Weld Administration to slow the release of a report on the progress of the Central Artery construction.
The report said that a problem with soil strength may add two years to the construction of an entrance ramp and another $2 billion in costs.
It also states that Bechtel may have been able to avoid the problem by doing more extensive soil samples in the FOrt Point Channel near South Station in Boston.
Berlandi has denied the allegations and said he never exerted any improper influence on the Weld Administration.
The cost estimates for the Central Artery project have grown from $2.5 billion in the mid-1980s to $8 billion.
Although the federal government has vowed to pay 85% of the project costs, the state may still have to sell bonds to finance its share of the bill.