Big Dig tunnel lights ordered to be replaced due to design/manufacturing flaw

Move will cost $54 million, but should prevent future corrosion

Tunnels News The Boston Globe April 05, 2012
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There will be better lights at the end of the Big Dig tunnels, and at the beginning, and everywhere else.


Massachusetts State Highway Administrator Frank DePaola is ordering that all the lights be replaced, which will cost $54 million and take up to two years to execute. Since a light fixture fell in the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel in February 2011, workers have been busy strengthening the installations with plastic ties. However, a recent study has revealed that design or manufacturing defects in the lights have caused dangerous corrosion. Replacing all of the fixtures was the most expensive option, but a necessary one according to DePaola.


“The existing fixtures continue to corrode,” he said. “We could have more incidents. For that reason, I think it is best for all of us that we remove the fixtures.”


More energy-efficient LED lights will be installed in all the tunnels, a move that is expected to save $2.5 million a year in electricity costs compared to the fluorescent lights. DePaola also said the new light casings will be sealed plastic fixtures, which will make them more resistant to moisture.


Money for the overhaul will be pulled from a maintenance fund that was created in 2008 as a result of the nearly $500 million settlement with Big Dig contractors Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and other for subpar construction on the $15 billion project.

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