The constellation of freeway tunnels beneath Boston, some dating back more than half a century, is in line for more than $15 million worth of repairs to plug leaks and mend worn surfaces.
State transportation officials on Wednesday approved a $15.3 million contract with SPS New England Inc. to maintain a quartet of tunnels that collectively carry hundreds of thousands of motorists each week.
These tunnels — the Thomas O’Neill Tunnel, which takes Interstate 93 under downtown Boston, the Ted Williams Tunnel, which takes motorists east and west along Interstate 90 across the harbor, and the westbound ones The Sumner and eastbound Callahan Tunnels, which connect Boston and East Boston — have “a multitude of areas of degradation,” said Michael O’Dowd, the Department of Transportation’s director of major projects, the agency’s board of directors.
“This contract gives us the ability to continue to repair cracks in the ceiling and plug leaks – any location that shows health deficiencies or deterioration in general conditions, this contract gives us the ability to go ahead and perform those repairs as needed at various locations.” through the tunnel system,” said O’Dowd.
Workers will seal leaks in the tunnels to prevent water ingress, which in turn will help prevent ice patches from forming during the winter months and putting drivers at risk. Crews also plan to repair concrete, replace fireproofing where it has deteriorated, replace manhole covers and drainage inlets, clean drains and more.
Most repairs will take place during nighttime hours when traffic is lighter and will require temporary lane closures, O’Dowd said.
“This is really a great opportunity to keep the tunnels in good working condition and safe conditions,” he said.
MassDOT board members unanimously approved the contract, which also includes $2.3 million for contingencies and an additional $600,000 to cover various expenses such as traffic policing.
The age of the four tunnels varies between 19 and 88 years. Both the Ted Williams Tunnel, opened in 1995, and the Thomas O’Neill Tunnel, opened in 2003, were part of the historic Big Dig project.
The other two tunnels predate this transformation of the city’s road infrastructure: the Callahan Tunnel opened in 1961, the year a young outfielder named Carl Yastrzemski played his first game for the Red Sox, while the Sumner Tunnel 1934 during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term as President.
State officials are also in the early stages of one extensive repair project worth around US$160 million for the Sumner Tunnel, triggered by a “dilapidated” condition of the first-ever traffic tunnel to open in Massachusetts.
MassDOT is halfway through the first phase of this effort, which will see the tunnel closed for a total of 36 weekends of maintenance. Over the next year, the tunnel will be closed for four consecutive months for the second phase of the project, followed by another series of weekend-only closures in late 2023.
Highway Master Jonathan Gulliver said last month that after some initial traffic hiccups, the Sumner project is “doing very well” as drivers have mostly “adjusted” to the required diversions and changed travel patterns.
(Copyright (c) 2022 State House News Service.
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