Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Tunnel or No Tunnel?

Today's Boston Globe brings us two pieces of tunnel-related news. The first is that the Storrow Drive Tunnel may be beyond repair and need to be replaced. The Globe notes that it was not waterproofed when it was constructed over fifty years ago and it has, perhaps unsurprisingly, suffered extensive water damage over the past half-century. This means, of course, that the planned rehabilitation of Storrow Drive will be neither cheap nor quick.

In addition, a local activist has shown that there are more accidents in the I-93 tunnel than in other tunnels in the area. This news, in my opinion is less important given that I would expect the O'Neill tunnel to have more accidents than the Sumner or Callahan tunnels given that it's longer, wider, less straight, and more heavily traveled than the two older East Boston tunnels and that area residents are still not used to the traffic patterns on the relatively new road. Frankly, I would have been astonished if there were not more accidents on I-93.

The Globe also presents two alternatives for replacing the Storrow tunnel. One would put the westbound as well as the eastbound traffic underground, allowing the city to expand the nearby Esplanade. The other would get rid of the tunnel altogether, and bring the eastbound traffic above ground. Here's my question: After all we've gone through with other area tunnels in not just the past year, but the past 15, does anyone in the Greater Boston area really have an appetite for more? Sure, it would be nice to connect the Esplanade with the rest of the city by burying that portion of Storrow, but what assurances do we have that such a project would not just turn into a Mini-Dig?