BOSTON —State transportation officials are gearing up for a lengthy closing of the Callahan Tunnel in Boston for major renovations.
The 52-year-old tunnel carries 30,000 vehicles per day in one direction from the North End to Logan International Airport and Route 1A in East Boston.
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“This is a significant closure, no doubt about it,” said MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey. “We did not make this decision lightly.”
Watch: State officials discuss closing
It is scheduled to close at 11 p.m. on Dec. 27 and reopen on March 12, but then will shut down overnight for several additional months to finish the replacement of wall panels.
Engineers say the Callahan Tunnel needs a full rehabilitation of its deck and curb, including replacement of air exchange vents.
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It is the first major rehabilitation in the tunnel’s history.
“The tunnel is in desperate need of a significant overhaul,” said Davey.
“There are several advantages for performing the overhaul of the Callahan Tunnel now,” said Highway Administrator Frank DePaola. “The Tobin Bridge painting project is shut down for the winter and that means all lanes are open and we generally see lower traffic volumes through the tunnel during these months.”
Three main detour routes have been established to handle traffic to East Boston: Through the Ted Williams Tunnel/Massachusetts Turnpike Eastbound, over the Tobin Bridge, or for motorists coming from points north — along Route 16 East to 1A South.
“People will learn the detour routes and find those that have the least congestion,” said DePaola.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is urging motorists to plan ahead, allow extra time and use other routes to get to the airport.
The $19.3 million construction project includes the replacement of the deck, curbing and wall panels. There are incentives for the contractor to finish ahead of schedule and penalties if the deadline is not met.
The Sumner Tunnel, which carries traffic back from the airport, will remain open.