Aug 23, 2007

Boston Tunnel In Need of Repairs on 500 Leaks

The Big Dig highway tunnels in Boston have about 500 leaks that need to repair, which does not include those currently being handled by the project's contractors. Additionally, state officials warn that future leaks will occur.

According to The Washington Post leaks have always been a problem for the $14.8 billion Big Dig, the most expensive public works construction in U.S. history. One of the leaks in 2004 affected traffic for miles.

Project manager Michael Lewis recent was successful in lobbying the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board to add another $2.3 million to an existing $5 million contract for repairs.

Lewis explained that the program is effective for repairing leaks, and that inspectors found 2,000 to 3,000 leaks in roof-wall joints after the September 2004 incident.

The current leaks are not noticeable to motorists, because they drain into holding areas below the surface and into pumps that discharge the water. Lewis also reported to The Washington Post that the water volume from the roof-wall joints is almost immeasurable.

The repairs to the existing leaks likely will continue until spring.

According to The Washington Post the engineering firm of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., found that 8 million gallons of water were discharged from the O'Neill tunnel pump stations in the first half of 2005, compared with 6.5 million gallons discharged in the first half of 2006 and 7.5 million gallons in the first half of this year.

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