Sumner Tunnel opens June 30, 1934
Sumner Tunnel opens June 30, 1934
In the East Boston tunnel, a conveyor carries the clay and other material from the shield on Jan. 14, 1932. The shield was a round device of steel about 15 feet long and a little more than 31 feet in diameter. In the front part of the shield the actual work of excavation was done. The shield advanced as clay was removed. This conveyor consisted of a wide belt running over rollers. Along the conveyor ran a steady stream of clay, which workers burrowed out. The conveyor belt dropped the clay into a huge elevator consisting of a chain of wide buckets. The elevator then carried the clay to the surface where it dropped into waiting trucks and was taken to fill the space around the then East Boston Airport, currently Logan International Airport.
In the East Boston tunnel, a worker on April 10, 1932 ties in the reinforcing rods of the curved ceiling that will be buried in the concrete. Reports at the time said that the level of safety was such that if the outside coating of cement between the steel and the mud were to wear away and if the steel itself were to corrode to nothing, this inside 18-inch wall of concrete would continue to stand and make a safe tunnel.
The new Sumner Tunnel ventilation plant at Liverpool and Maverick streets in East Boston takes a delivery of $34,000 worth of fans purchased from Buffalo on June 28, 1933. There would be a corresponding ventilating plant at Fleet and North streets on the Boston side. These fans on either end of the mile-long tunnel could shoot a volume of 1 million cubic feet of fresh air per minute into the newly constructed tunnel.
On Sept. 30, 1933, an open-air market lined up along the East Boston portion of what would become the approach to the Sumner Tunnel. On the Boston end, transformation was also taking place as construction crews tore down buildings and widened streets around Haymarket Square.
This $5,000 tractor, photographed on July 2, 1934, was purchased by the city to keep the tunnel cleared of broken-down vehicles. To pay for this machine, motorists were charged a 50 cent tax for towing and a dollar a gallon for gas should they run out. Gas at this time was selling at 19 cents per gallon. John F. Lane, an official with the Public Works Department, noted that although the money was needed to pay for the tractor, the tunnel would still turn away any rickety automobiles that could break down and delay traffic.
Joseph J. O'Brien, the cashier in charge of toll collection at the Sumner Tunnel, examines the toll recorder on Dec. 23, 1940. Toll costs ranged from 15 cents for a pleasure car to a dollar for a truck 10 tons or more, with a variety of amounts in between. Lights would flash on the indicator pictured here when a toll was paid, indicating to the driver that the toll worker had recorded the amount paid. When the tunnel opened the toll was 25 cents for cars but was lowered to 15 cents when the Chelsea North Bridge was closed in January 1935.
Automobiles entered the Sumner Tunnel on April 24, 1958. Almost exactly a year after this picture was taken, on April 30 1959, more than 1,000 people attended a ground-breaking ceremony for construction of a second tunnel to run parallel to the then 25-year-old Sumner Tunnel. The Lieutenant William F. Callahan Tunnel opened on Nov. 11, 1961.