Callahan Tunnel Rehab Project Scheduled

MassDOT has scheduled a meeting to discuss the proposed rehabilitation project to the Lieutenant William F. Callahan Tunnel that connects East Boston to the North End.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the East Boston High School, 86 White St.

The project includes rehabilitation to the tunnel’s deck, curb line, gutters and replacement of the tunnel’s wall panels.

MassDOT project staff will present details including preliminary work schedule information and expected traffic impacts.

After removing 117 wall panels from the Callahan Tunnel in December 2013 and an additional two-dozen panels from the adjoining Sumner Tunnel last week, MassDOT decided to remove all 2,400 panels from the Callahan.

The removal of the panels came after a 100 lb. wall panel in the tunnel fell off the wall of the tunnel and landed in the road. The panels, which date back to the 1990s, are 9 ft. by 4 ft. and replaced older panels in order to give the tunnel a better look and reflect light for improved visibility in the tunnel for motorists.

After the panel fell, MassDOT was forced to shut down the Callahan so inspectors could perform a ‘pull test’ on the panels that line the tunnel.

After the inspections it was found that 117 panels did not pass the pull test and had to be removed. MassDOT officials said the framing holding the panels in place had corroded.

Inspectors took down every panel that showed some degree of looseness. The rest where firmly secured and MassDOT was confident they would not fall onto the road in the Callahan.

However, a week after performing the pull test in the Callahan, MassDOT inspectors moved over to the Sumner Tunnel where they performed the same testing.

They found that 26 panels needed to come down due to corrosion. MassDOT officials said any panel that moved even slightly was taken down in the Sumner.

Because the Callahan was up for an overhaul beginning this summer, MassDOT decided to take all panels down.

The overhaul of the tunnel will cost between $10 million and $12 million.

The Callahan Tunnel is one of three tunnels that connect East Boston to Boston via routes under the Boston Harbor, the others being the Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels.  The tunnel was opened in 1961. It was named for the son of Turnpike chairman William F. Callahan, who was killed in Italy just days before the end of World War II.

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