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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  • Johntslom

    There is a dangerous spot in the tunnel system. I am a chauffeur using the Ted Wiiliams Tuinnel 6 or 7 times every day As you enter the Ted Williams Tunnel Eastbound in South Boston, the tunnel quickly goes from 3 lanes to 2. There is just one sign marking this lane squeeze. I have seen hundreds of near accidents in this spot. More signs are needed to avoid a catastophe here.

    • Grifdog08

      Go to the MA State site that controls the Tunnels …I had issue with signage over at Logan Terminal B and I used their website to note the issue…I got a call from them the next day…

      I was very surprised but pleased they paid attention

  • Jeff in Belmont, Mass.

    So the company that installed these lights is going to pay for this, right? Yeah, right.

    • J Power

      Not for nothing, but the installer has nothing to do with it.  It would be the engineer who selected the light fixture to be installed.

  • jo

    I have always found it a bit shocking – for lack of a better term – why the Boston media has never done a complete investigation on this whole mess.
    This isn’t called “America’s Greatest Highway Robbery” for nothing. It cost less to build the panama canal!
    One can only assume the Boston journalists are too gutless to step on someones toes or are covering up for their political party.

    • Dave

       Of course the Panama Canal was built 100 years ago, when money was worth a lot more and you could kill a few workers without pesky lawsuits.

      Your main point is totally valid but just to keep a little perspective….

      • marysims

        In current dollars, the Big Dig cost three times that of building
        the Panama Canal. Instead of killing workers, it just kills drivers.

  • Yourmom

    and the home of the lowest bidder

  • Dave

    I sure hope the new “energy efficient” lighting will be all LED – it has incredible savings and is truly zero maintenance.

    And that could explain some of why this is a $54M retrofit: LED lighting is very expensive to purchase but more than recoups the savings in reduced maintenance and energy costs.

    (I work in energy conservation and spec LED lighting to replace all exterior security lighting and some interior lighting.  LED lights are a revolutionary change that are just reaching the marketplace).

  • MBTA Rider

    I’m curious as to why $54 million for fixing lights for the Big Dig is no big deal, when apparently any money going to the MBTA is out of the question.  Since part of the MBTA’s problem is paying off Big Dig debt, why not put a toll on the Big Dig to pay off the MBTA?  If only …

  • X-Ray

    That’s over $2,200 for each of the approx 25,000 lights. Seems awfully high, even assuming the installation is included. Say each requires a hour for installation, that would be about $200 labor. And they are all in a row, in a exposed area. Someone is getting another creme puff (again) in the MA construction business!

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