At last, the chaos is over.
About 2½ months after it was closed for repairs, the Callahan Tunnel is scheduled to reopen for the Monday morning commute, two days ahead of schedule.
At a press conference Friday, Frank DePaola, administrator of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s highway division, said that the work was proceeding quicker than state officials had anticipated and that the tunnel underneath Boston Harbor would be ready before the March 12 deadline.
An overhaul of the tunnel deck and the concrete curbs lining the tunnel walls began Dec. 27 and cost $25 million. Last year, transportation officials decided they needed to bump up plans to renovate the tunnel, which opened in 1961, after they realized the roadway had begun to deteriorate. Last April, a broken manhole cover delayed travel and was blamed on crumbling pavement.
Early completion of the project is a success for the department, which has increasingly opted for a rip-off-the-Band-Aid approach when it comes to major infrastructure projects, completely closing bridges and roadways to finish more quickly and cheaply.
By reopening the tunnel two days early, the contractor, McCourt Construction, will receive a $143,000 bonus: $71,500
for each day, a stipulation of the contract. If the project had run behind schedule, the company would have had to pay a penalty
for each day past the missed deadline.
To finish the Callahan ahead of schedule, the project was staffed around the clock. Still, there are more closures to come: In coming months, there will be some overnight closures and weekend lane restrictions so workers can install new wall panels.Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.