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Callahan Tunnel's closure slows NH's ride to Logan

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 28. 2013 10:25PM
Boston's Callahan Tunnel is closed for repairs. (Courtesy/WBZ-TV, Boston)

Andrew Robel and his staff have plotted out alternate routes to Logan Airport now that the Callahan Tunnel, a major access point for many New Hampshire motorists and transportation providers, will be closed until mid-March.

"When you take away a main vein of transportation, it has got to go somewhere," said Robel, co-owner and manager of North Country Auto Rental and Shuttle Services, based in Lebanon.

Bus lines and shuttles with regular trips to Logan have to contend with the same detour maps. In Robel's assessment, a detour around the tunnel will add 15 minutes, on average, to a trip from New Hampshire's Upper Valley to Logan. And that is not to mention the traffic congestion on the alternate routes, he said.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation does not know exactly how many New Hampshire vehicles use the Callahan Tunnel, but it has a rough idea of the traffic volumes coming from various areas. "For instance, 14 percent of vehicles headed to Logan and/or East Boston were counted on I-93 southbound, just north of I-95 in Woburn/Stoneham," according to Mike Verseckes, spokesman for Massachusetts DOT.

In a 2013 "ground-access survey" conducted by the Massachusetts Port Authority, or Massport, an estimated 5.6 percent of air travelers at Logan Airport came from New Hampshire, which is about 2,089 average daily ground-access air passengers, Verseckes said in an email.

Recommended routes

Massachusetts has suggested detour routes. For most motorists from New Hampshire or "points north via I-93 southbound," the recommended route is to take Exit 31 to Route 16 east, then turn onto Route 1A south and drive another 2.7 miles to Logan Airport.

Motorists from the Seacoast region would also follow this route.

Another option for Interstate 93 travelers would be to proceed south until Exit 18, then stay straight at the Massachusetts Avenue ramp and proceed to the Interstate 90 bypass road and then I-90 eastbound. Motorists would then drive another 1.8 miles to Logan Airport.

Manchester's airport

What might the temporary tunnel closure mean for New Hampshire air travelers and possibly residents considering flying out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport instead?

J. Brian O'Neill, deputy airport director, responded via email: "Manchester-Boston Regional Airport believes the additional challenges created by the Callahan Tunnel closure this winter is an excellent opportunity to showcase the overall convenience and ease of flying MHT.

The airport has been utilizing social media and other communication tools to encourage air travelers to strongly consider the benefits of booking flights into or out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport during the construction period."

Callahan Tunnel, which opened in 1961, serves 30,000 vehicles a day on average, according to Massachusetts DOT.

The $19.3 million rehabilitation project involves replacing the deck, curbing and wall panels. The target completion date is March 12.

The contractor, McCourt Construction, may earn $71,000 a day for each day the project is finished early, up to $2 million, and the company would pay $71,000 a day for each day beyond March 12.

Mass DOT has more information on transit options at:

Callahan Tunnel detour map

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