Another tunnel closed, Big Dig investigation continues

| Friday, July 21, 2006

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ordered a shutdown of the eastbound lanes of the Ted Williams Tunnel on Thursday, July 20, as the criminal investigation into the July 10 collapse of a Big Dig tunnel continued.

The Associated Press reported that no immediate reason was given for the closure. This marks the third section of the Interstate 90 tunnel to be closed following the collapse that crushed a car and left one woman dead.

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.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said that his office is still investigating whether criminal charges would be filed in relation to the accident.

The Associated Press reported that investigators from Reilly’s office were busy reconstructing pieces of the three-ton concrete slabs that fell from a section of the tunnel along Interstate 90 and crushed a car below. Their findings could determine whether involuntary manslaughter charges are warranted.

The investigation is focusing on bolts, epoxy glue, anchors, concrete and other materials from the scene, which have are being stored and catalogued at an offsite facility, according to The AP.

Engineers and construction crews are still working on reinforcing the area of the tunnel where the collapse occurred. 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 http://www.masspike.com/bigdig.

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