State: ‘The Tunnels Are Safe’ After Big Dig Light Falls

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — State transportation officials say they have discovered some corrosion in the lighting system for the Big Dig tunnels in Boston.

They realized the problem February 8, after an eight-foot, 110-pound light came crashing down in the tunnel on I93 North.  It fell in the center lane during the morning rush hour. No one was hit.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports.

Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullen was briefing reporters Wednesday on the problem, which said to affect less than 2 percent of the lights in the tunnel.  Mullen says the powder coating on lights is corroding due to weather and salt.

The state says it is launching a full review of the lighting system in the tunnels and does plan to go after the manufacturer over the problem.

There are 23,000 light fixtures in tunnels. To this point, 95 percent have been inspected.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

“The tunnels are safe,” said Mullen.

The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in U.S. history and was plagued by cost overruns and design problems.

In 2008, contractors who worked on the project agreed to pay more than $450 million to settle a lawsuit over a fatal tunnel ceiling collapse and to cover the costs of leaks and design flaws.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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