Portion of Big Dig tunnel reopened

| Friday, July 21, 2006

A portion of the Big Dig tunnel that had been ordered closed on Thursday, July 20, was reopened to buses traveling to Logan Airport on Friday, July 21.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney closed the eastbound lanes of the Ted Williams Tunnel on Thursday to allow workers to reinforce ceiling panels that were coming loose. Though the work was still underway, The Associated Press reported that enough had been done to leave one lane open to allow buses through.

Two other sections of the Big Dig tunnel along Interstate 90 remained closed on Friday as an investigation into a July 10 collapse that left one woman dead continued.

Milena Del Valle was crushed to death when several three-ton concrete panels fell from the ceiling of the tunnel and landed on the car in which she was traveling. Her husband, who was driving the car, survived the incident with minor injuries.

The section of Interstate 90 where the collapse occurred, which connects Interstate 93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel, is still closed indefinitely.

A second part of the tunnel, a mile-long ramp that connects Interstate 90 west with Interstate 93 north and south was shut down on July 17 after tests on the bolts used to secure concrete panels to the ceiling showed numerous potential problems including problems with the epoxy used to hold the bolts in place, according to The AP.

Engineers and construction crews are still working on reinforcing the area of the tunnel where the collapse occurred, as well as more than 1,400 bolt fixtures throughout the tunnels. The AP reported that Romney said he wanted the tunnel re-opened as early as next week.

The tunnel closures have brought more traffic to the surface on Boston’s streets. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has posted information on alternate routes and closures on the Big Dig Web site at masspike.com/bigdig.

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