BOSTON (AP) - The Callahan Tunnel, which carries traffic from downtown Boston to Logan International Airport, will close for about three months early next year so engineers can overhaul the deteriorating 52-year-old structure, state transportation officials said Thursday.
The $34.9 million project will include rehabilitation of the tunnel's deck, curb line and gutters, along with installation of new wall panels.
The tunnel's 2,800 wall panels were removed in January due to corrosion after one of them fell during the evening rush on Dec. 21. No one was injured and no vehicles were damaged, and engineers said at the time that the tunnel was structurally sound.
"The Callahan has served motorists well since the day it opened in 1961 and was paired with the Sumner Tunnel," Frank DePaola, highway administrator for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said in a statement.
"However, every aspect of the tunnel is in fair to poor condition, and the time has come to put the Callahan in shape to last another 50 years," DePaola said.
Officials planned to reach out to motorists prior to and during the closure of the tunnel - scheduled to begin in January - with information about detours, alternate routes and public transportation options.
After the tunnel reopens to traffic, overnight closures from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. will continue for several more months until all of the repairs are completed, MassDOT said.
The two-lane Sumner Tunnel, which runs parallel to the Callahan and carries traffic from the airport and Route 1A in East Boston back into the city, will remain open during the work on its companion Boston Harbor tunnel. Officials chose not to try to make the Sumner into a temporary two-way tunnel during the Callahan closure.
The Callahan, which begins in the city's North End neighborhood and is accessible from Interstate 93, carries a weekday average of 30,000 cars, according to MassDOT. For years, it was the only direct route from downtown Boston to the airport and East Boston, but the opening of the Ted Williams Tunnel in 1995 - part of the Big Dig project - alleviated some of the traffic crunch by providing access to and from Logan for east-west traffic on Interstate 90.