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Big Dig Tunnels Need $54M Light Fix

BOSTON — State officials announced Thursday that they plan to replace all corroding light fixtures in the Big Dig tunnels. The effort will cost $54 million, an expense that transportation officials say they’ll cover with money in a Central Artery trust fund.

The work will require lane closures that are likely to cause traffic backups, but MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola says they plan to conduct the work overnight and avoid disrupting daytime commuters.

“We constrain ourselves to do major work like this at night. We start the shutdowns at around 11 p.m. and we re-open the tunnel by 6 a.m. in the morning,” DePaola said. “So because of that limited work window it will take us probably an entire calendar year.”

DePaola says there are 25,000 lights lining the tunnel system, and they plan to replace all of them.

Problems with the tunnel light fixtures gained attention after a fixture fell from the O’Neill Tunnel ceiling in February 2011.

Patrick administration officials indicated Thursday they hope to realize $2.5 million in long-term savings by installing energy efficient lighting.

With reporting from the State House News Service and the WBUR newsroom. 

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