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117 Wall Panels Removed From Callahan Tunnel After Safety Inspection

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Callahan Tunnel reopened Monday morning after crews inspected the panels overnight and removed 117 wall panels.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Karen Twomey reports

“We are confident that the remaining panels are secured,” said Highway Supervisor Frank DePaola. “We feel that no one should have any concerns about the safety of those panels going forward.”

At a news conference Monday, Department of Transportation officials said prior visual inspections did not easily identify loose panels. The latest inspection is the first time 30 people were in the tunnel pulling on the panels, Mass DOT said.

At Mass DOT press conference, they showed an example of a rotted wall panel support (top) and a good one (bottom). (Photo: WBZ's Bree Sison)

At Mass DOT press conference, they showed an example of a rotted wall panel support (top) and a good one (bottom). (Photo: WBZ’s Bree Sison)

“They physically grabbed on to the top and bottom of each panel and if any panel exhibited any degree of looseness, it was removed,” said DePaola.

MassDOT crews took action after one of the 2,800 wall panel inside the Callahan Tunnel came loose and fell onto the highway Friday night.

It did not hit any cars that were traveling through the tunnel.

Officials say a new system for attaching the wall panels needs to be devised eventually, to prevent the problem from happening again.

The tunnel, originally built in the 1950′s, is scheduled for renovation next winter. In the meantime, DOT plans to divert its maintenance crews to the physical inspections once every quarter.

Mass DOT says the issue of corrosion and aging infrastructure is a problem statewide but they’re doing what they can to keep the public safe.

Next Sunday there will be a similar inspection of the more recently renovated Sumner tunnel.

Mass DOT said they want to be certain there are no issues there.

Expect the Sumner to be closed from 9 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m. Monday.

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