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For Immediate Release: 06/30/2011
CONTACT: Adam Hurtubise

MassDOT Orders Development of Comprehensive Plan to Address Boston Tunnels Maintenance
Five-Year Program to Coordinate, Enhance Existing Tunnels Maintenance Efforts

BOSTON - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mullan today ordered development of a comprehensive, five-year Capital Maintenance Program (CMP) to coordinate and enhance current ongoing maintenance procedures involving the tunnels of the Metropolitan Highway System in Boston.

MassDOT has secured the services of infrastructure firm HNTB Corporation to develop the CMP by fall 2011, which will identify existing and future expected maintenance needs and estimate the costs necessary to implement solutions that ensure the tunnels remain safe.

"The tunnel system is proven safe, thanks to the professional maintenance crews working under comprehensive protocols every day to address the ongoing maintenance needs of the tunnels," said Secretary Mullan. "Today we are taking the next step to develop a comprehensive five-year plan in order to better coordinate these efforts to ensure the tunnels remain safe for generations to come."

"MassDOT's Highway Division will focus on the Capital Maintenance of the Metropolitan Highway system, including the CA/T, Ted Williams Tunnel, Sumner and Callahan tunnels, the Zakim and Tobin Bridges and all related ramps and roadways," said MassDOT Acting Highway Division Administrator Frank DePaola. "It is our charge to keep all of these facilities in safe, good working order."

The CMP will address coordination of response to recent tunnel issues, including securing and the ultimate replacement of light fixtures, recommendations for the maintenance safety/emergency egress railing, and the ongoing water infiltration mitigation efforts. The plan will also incorporate remaining long-term maintenance items identified in the 2008 Stem-to-Stern Safety Review. To date, over 80 % of the recommendations of the Stem-to-Stern report have been implemented, including all issues identified as of immediate concern. The vast majority of the remaining long-term items do not involve the Central Artery Tunnels. Those items will be incorporated into the CMP.

Following the February 2011 light fixture incident, MassDOT electricians performed hands-on inspections of all tunnel light fixtures while seeking an interim solution to secure the fixtures. A system of straps was identified as an interim solution, and MassDOT maintenance crews have begun installation. Strapping material has been used to secure 350 fixtures to date, with work continuing in all areas of the tunnel system representing 25,000 fixtures under MassDOT control. Installation of the straps is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. The interim system will be subject to ongoing inspection and will secure the light fixtures until a long-term solution is implemented.

The CMP will also include implementation of recommendations regarding the tunnel maintenance safety/emergency egress railing. The April 2011 recommendations, made in cooperation with the State Police and other safety professionals, included a plan to remove the railing at locations where they are not required to meet emergency egress requirements and to retrofit the existing railing with chain link fence mesh fabric along outside curves and other high risk locations determined based on crash data analysis.

MassDOT is committed to keeping the public informed about the CMP plan and all ongoing tunnel maintenance efforts on the Tunnel Safety web page, http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Highway/TunnelSafety.aspx

HNTB Corporation is an engineering, architectural, planning, and construction management company offering design, engineering, and planning services to federal, state, and local public and private clients. Its services include aviation, bridges and tunnels, construction management, design-build, environmental planning and engineering, freight rail, highways, intelligent transportation systems, management consulting, program management, public transit, public-private partnership, security, technology, tolls, and urban design projects.

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot