Friday June 8, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- The latest flaw discovered in Boston’s $15 billion Big Dig highway project could cost up to $1 million to repair, transportation authorities said.

Concrete road surfaces in the Central Artery tunnels that were supposed to last 30 years are failing in less than a de cade, causing potholes and crumbling road surfaces that must be repaved, Frank De Paola, the state’s highway ad ministrator, told a state De part ment of Transportation board meeting Wednesday.

The most severe issue, De Paola said, is on the exit from the Thomas P. "Tip" O’Neil Tunnel to the Zakim Bridge.

"Highway maintenance staff have been repairing potholes as they appear but the number and frequency now justifies the complete removal of the concrete pavement and replacement with a Hot Mix Asphalt pavement," DePaola said.

De Paola told The Boston Globe the problem stems from a decision by the Bechtel/Par sons Brinckerhoff team that oversaw Big Dig design and construction to pave the project with concrete, more common in warmer climates, in stead of traditional New Eng land as phalt.

If it is determined that the pro blem resulted from defective work or specification, the state will ask the Federal High way Administration to fund re pairs from the Central Artery Trust Fund, which was established in 2008 as part of $450 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by the state against Big Dig contractors.


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"We need to make these repairs now to keep the roadways safe and in good repair. This maintenance work will provide a long-term solution to the pavement issue and prevent damage to vehicles from potholes and concrete debris," DePaola told the board.

The issue does not impact the structural integrity of the Big Dig tunnels, he added.

The work is tentatively scheduled to begin on June 16 and will require weekend lane closures. The schedule could be altered for special events, or if the Boston Celtics advance to the NBA Finals.