TRAFFIC SAFETY: Mass DOT buttoning up its safety protocols after tragic accident

April 18, 2016

A loose manhole cover on I-93 killed a motorist this past February

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced Friday that it will be doing more rigorous testing of highway infrastructure and installing bolted-down manhole covers in high speed travel lanes after a cover dislodged and smashed through a Milton teacher’s windshield, killing her in February.

Art teacher Caitlin Clavette, 35, of Winchester, died when the 200-lb. cover became loose on I-93 and flew into the air before striking her windshield during the morning commute. The cover was for a storm drain inside the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel.

Thomas J. Tinlin, highway administrator for MassDOT, said Friday in a statement that the stepped-up inspections will “include more rigorous physical testing that exceeds federal requirements” and that the department will put in the bolted-down covers throughout the Commonwealth.

The bolted-down manhole covers will be installed gradually during regularly scheduled maintenance and construction, according to MassDOT, but a spokeswoman for the department declined to comment on how long the process would take and whether all manhole covers would be bolted. since the accident, the transportation department has performed cautionary maintenance at 69 sites and conducted a review of 1,143 manhole covers throughout the Boston area.