Rusted support system found in Callahan Tunnel
BOSTON (WHDH) -- After an overnight inspection of 2,800 panels in the Callahan Tunnel, 117 of them were removed - their support system had rusted through.
“They physically grabbed on to the top and both and bottom of each panel and if any panel exhibited any degree of weakness, it was removed,” said Frank DePaola, Massachusetts Highway administrator said in a press conference Monday morning.
On Friday one of the panels weighing more than 100 pounds came crashing down in the left lane --but no one was hurt.
The tunnel is 60 years old. The panels were put in 20 years ago. Officials had done visual inspections in the past but that didn’t reveal the extent of the corrosion issue.
“We found panels that visually looked like they were not coming loose, that once you put some force on them, or physical test…so going forward, we’re going to add that step of physical load test,” said DePaola.
The four-by-9 foot panels cover up the concrete sides of the tunnel and their color helps reflect light from the light fixtures inside.
Highway officials said after this scare and emergency inspection -- the tunnel is safe.
“We are confident that the remaining wall panels are firmly secure and we feel that no one should have any concerns about the safety of those panels going forward. To insure that, we plan to do quarterly inspections similar to what we did last night,” said DePaola.
Next Sunday, the Sumner Tunnel will undergo the exact same inspections of the 2,800 metal panels in that tunnel.
The Callahan Tunnel is set to undergo a major renovation that is set for 2014.