State of Massachusetts transportation workers are set to replace hundreds of flawed nuts on luminaires throughout the Big Dig’s tunnels after inspectors found a cracked one last month.
Safety within the Big Dig’s tunnels has long been a concern. Even in 2011, EC&M posted a news story that a 110-lb luminaire had crashed on Interstate 93 northbound at the entrance to the O’Neill Tunnel, part of Boston's Big Dig tunnel, setting off an investigation into corrosion that has been found on the fixtures.
Now the Boston Globe is reporting that the department will replace faulty nuts out of an abundance of caution, even though officials say no luminaires are in danger of falling. After an inspector found a single, cracked nut in the Ted Williams Tunnel in mid-September, MassDOT officials asked inspectors to pay more attention to the support nuts throughout the tunnel. At that point, inspectors discovered 41 other nuts that needed replacing. The department then had inspectors check every nut on every luminaire in the Williams Tunnel, the Interstate 90 Connector, and the Interstate 93 tunnels, the Globe reported.
Inspectors then embarked on a broader inspection of the roughly 5,000 luminaires in the Williams Tunnel. After reviewing about 70% of the fixtures, inspectors have identified 878 nuts for replacement.