BOSTON (CBS) — The Callahan Tunnel is scheduled to reopen March 12 after more than two months of renovation work but authorities say it may actually open ahead of schedule.

The tunnel is now just weeks away from re-opening according to state highway administrator Frank DePaola.

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“Progress is going very well. We hope to be done on time if not a little ahead of schedule,” DePaola told WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton.

That would be good news for Boston area commuters and the tunnel contractor, who would get a $71,500 bonus for every day the work is completed before the March 12 deadline.

DePaola pointed out that if the contractor finishes late, however, it would pay a penalty in the same amount for every day past the deadline.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

The Callahan is a primary route to Logan International Airport and carries on average 30,000 cars a day.

The 52-year-old tunnel was shut down for renovations in December. One year earlier on Christmas Eve 2012, one of the tunnel’s wall panels fell onto the road.

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In the next few days MassDOT found hundreds of defective panels.

DePaola said the biggest challenge for this $25 million project has been the demolition.

“The contractor actually used water pressure to demolish the deck,” he explained. “He actually washed away the top 6 inches of the old deck.”

Stainless steel clips used in the new prefabricated wall panels will not corrode the way the old panels did.

Highway officials said the panel replacement portion of the project will not be complete before the tunnel opens.

“The wall panels are going to go in over a series of overnight shutdowns once all the clips are installed,” DePaola said.

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