Route 5 Tunnel repair costs to double

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP)– Road repairs to the Route 5 Tunnel are going to take longer than expected, and cost a lot more than state officials initially thought.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Versekes told 22News pot hole repair work was initially expected to cost about $400,000, but that this project falls under the category of emergency repairs and now it’s now going to cost as much as $800,000.

Versekes said major projects usually have a development phase for design and engineering, but in this case, the MassDOT closed the road because more potholes continued to form.

The tunnel, which carries the highway under the North End Bridge Rotary in West Springfield, first closed for pothole repairs five weeks ago and was expected to be re-opened by the end of March.

Versekes said that crews have been removing the existing road surface and replacing the concrete, but that the project will take longer because they found more deterioration, and damage to the road was deeper and wider, than originally expected.

Versekes also said that MassDOT is also making repairs and upgrades to the tunnel’s drainage system.

“We never know the true cost for emergency repairs like this until they are complete,” Verseckes said in an e-mail to 22News.

Drivers in the area told 22News they are frustrated with both the cost and the delay.

“You know you’ve got to wait two or three more minutes just to get through and you’ve got to find a different way.  The traffic is really busy,” Roger Goodhind, from Springfield, said.

“It impacts my schedule and I end up calling customers and telling them I’m going to be late, which I don’t like to do.  I like to be on time,” Dave Wolff, from Feeding Hills, told 22News.

Due to this additional work, the Route 5 Tunnel will now remain closed until at least April 25.

In the meantime, drivers should give themselves some extra time.  Route 5 traffic will be detoured to exit off the highway and onto the Rotary, then on to the offramps to pick-up Route 5 again.

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