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Callahan Tunnel Rehabilitation Project

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View of the south entrance to the Callahan Tunnel

Project Schedule and Detour Information

Callahan Tunnel On Track To Open For Am Commute on Monday, March 10, 2014

A second phase of work will take place between March 13, 2014 to late August 2014. The tunnel will be open and no work will be performed during the day, the tunnel will be closed overnight from 11 PM to 5 AM. From August to mid-November 2014, finish work will be performed during off-peak hours.

Purpose of the Project:

The purpose of this project is to completely rehabilitate the Callahan Tunnel, which carries traffic northbound from Boston’s North End to Logan International Airport and Route 1A in East Boston, safely, efficiently, and with the least possible impact to road users and the surrounding community.

Boston has several tunnels. The tunnel system of the Central Artery, which carries I-93 underneath Boston; The Ted Williams Tunnel, which carries I-90 in both directions between Boston’s Seaport District and East Boston/Logan Airport; and the Sumner Tunnel, which carries Route 1A southbound from East Boston/Logan Airport to downtown Boston.

 View a map of the area tunnels

Need for the Project:

The Callahan Tunnel, which opened in 1961, is 52 years old and in need of a full rehabilitation of its deck. Work on the deck will include grinding the deck down to its steel supports (called floorbeams) and pouring a new deck. The interconnected curb, which includes air exchange vents, has deteriorated through the years and will also be replaced. All the tunnel's wall panels will be replaced as well. View examples of Tunnel Deterioration

Project Impacts:

All involved in the project recognize that there is no truly convenient way or time to work on such a heavily-used and important piece of infrastructure, but, since the work must be done, MassDOT engineers and several stakeholders are working together to make sure the project is completed in a manner that has the shortest possible duration of impact on mobility and that has predictable work hours and consistent, well-marked detour routes. MassDOT project managers will ensure that noise and dust are kept to a minimum, by requiring and enforcing noise and dust mitigation plans.

Minimizing Impacts through the Construction Approach:

In order to ensure the least possible impact to mobility and the surrounding community, MassDOT is going to compress the project to a period of approximately fourteen months. The deck work and curb work, which are the most impactful to traffic, will be completed during a two-and-a-half-month-long full closure of the tunnel. Project engineers thoroughly considered keeping one lane of traffic open in the Callahan Tunnel during construction. Unfortunately, the dimensions of the tunnel severely restrict the ability to perform work while maintaining a single-lane of traffic. If a single lane of traffic were permitted during construction, fire suppression devices would have to be relocated (since they would need to be removed in order for work to occur). Temporarily moving these devices is not only extremely costly, it means that the lane of traffic would be so narrow that the tunnel would be functionally operating at 35% capacity, not 50% capacity. Also, with a one-lane traffic operation, there is no way to move in emergency response vehicles or equipment to respond to crashes and breakdowns. Providing one lane of traffic would greatly limit the size of the work area and drastically lengthen the duration of construction. It would also still require a complete closure for one-and-a-half-months to complete some important work. Completely closing the tunnel for two-and-a-half months significantly reduces the overall duration of the project.

Phases of Work:

This diagram depicts the tunnel’s elements, including: the exterior tube; the deck, which is the 21’3”-wide roadway area and supports; the wall panels; the curb system, which is integral to the deck, and the supply and exhaust plenums.

The tunnel rehabilitation work will be performed in three major phases. In Phase One, the tunnel will be closed for up to two-and-a-half months (from December 27, 2013 to March 12, 2014) to replace the deck and curb. The contract between MassDOT and the builder provides significant incentives if the tunnel is reopened early and major disincentives in the unlikely event that the tunnel is opened late. The second phase of work is primarily the wall panel replacement. During this phase (from March 13, 2014 to late August 2014) the tunnel will be open and no work will be performed during the day, but the tunnel will be closed overnight from 11 PM to 5 AM to allow the contractor to replace the wall panels. From August to mid-November, 2014, the Phase Three finish work will be performed during off-peak hours.




Minimizing Impacts through Scheduling:

The project team members have scheduled the bridge closure to occur when the Tobin Bridge painting project is completed for the winter, and when Prudential Tunnel rehabilitation and Alford Street Bridge project are not in active construction. The project avoids the spring vacation rush weeks for airport travelers.

MassDOT is also using incentive/disincentive contracting and schedule oversight to help ensure the project is completed on-time.

Contact Information:

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24 Hour Complaint Hotline - 617-908-2614. Any Callahan Tunnel work related complaint, like noise or vibration, should be called into this number. Someone from McCourt Construction will respond and will work with the on duty MassDOT Construction Inspector to review the issue.

To request additional information, please contact

Additional Information and Related Links:

Printable Fact Sheet - An easy-to-share, one-page, fully-accessible PDF with all the basic project information. Translated into Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.

Project Info - Additional information on this project can be found listed by town in our on-line project tracking system.

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