SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s been a chronic issue with water leaking into a tunnel that leads to one of Springfield’s public schools for over a decade now.
Wednesday, community members and city officials met to discuss how to put a final fix on the problem. Water still leaks into the tunnel that connects the German Gerena Community School to Springfield’s North End.
Maria Perez, a Springfield resident, told 22News, “It’s affecting our students, because this is a community school as our neighborhood as well.”
The school was opened in 1975 and the city started combatting leaks in the 90s. While improvements have been made to sections, the tunnel off of Main Street, which holds several community rooms, remains a problem.
Students have been walking through puddles on their way to the Gerena School for the past several years. Mostly after it rains, because the rainwater is coming off of Birnie Avenue and Interstate 91, and it’s up to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to solve the issue. The Springfield Department of Public Works says that, in the long term, it could come down to installing larger pumps to pump out the water at both ends of the tunnel.
Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of Springfield Parks and Recreation, told 22News, “Realistically we have got to stop doing the facelift, and really get into the infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, community members and leaders are anxiously awaiting. It was estimated to take $3 million to make repairs, and while it has been approved, the Governor needs to sign off.
Sullivan told 22News, “Birnie Avenue acts as the roof of the tunnel, and that membrane has been damaged, and once they make those repairs to that membrane, then the water infiltration will stop in the building, and therefore we can fix the community rooms in the tunnel.
MassDOT deemed the tunnel is structurally sound, and are starting the review process.