The Central Artery/Tunnel Project ultimately completed the work of adding three major highway tunnels and unique river crossings at the Charles River and created more than 45 parks and open plazas in conjunction with shoreline restoration.
The Underground Tunnels
The Ted Williams Tunnel
The Ted Williams Tunnel (named after the legendary Boston Red Sox baseball player Ted Williams) was the first completed component of the Big Dig. Construction on the tunnel began in 1991 and it opened in late 1995. It connects South Boston with Logan International Airport by way of the Massachusetts Turnpike(I-90) and allows access to Route 1A in East Boston. The 1.6-mile(8,448 ft./2,575 m.) tunnel is three lanes at both ends and two lanes in its .75-mile (3,960 ft./1,210 m.) underwater portion, constructed under the Boston Harbor.
The Massachusetts Turnpike I-90 Extension
The Massachusetts Turnpike (also known as the Mass Pike) is the eastern most 138-mile (222 km) segment of I-90. Interstate 90 (the longest Interstate in the U.S. at 3,099mi/4,987 km)) runs across the United States from Seattle, Wash., to Logan International Airport in East Boston where the road meets Route1A. Previously, I-90 ended at I-93 before connecting to the Ted Williams Tunnel. Its completion enabled motorists traveling from south or west of Boston to now access Logan International Airport directly via eastbound I-90. This extension, considered to include some of the most complicated engineering of the Central Artery/TunnelProject, opened in early 2003.
The Thomas P. O'Neil, Jr. Tunnel
The Thomas P. O'Neil, Jr. Tunnel (I-93, U.S. Route 1 and Route 3) is an underground roadway (a 1.5mile/2.4 km tunnel.) The highway tunnel loosely follows the route of the Old Central Artery and starts at South Boston and ends at the Leonard P. Zakim - Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. When I-93 opened, the elevated Old Central Artery was dismantled.
The River Crossings
The Leverett Circle ConnectorBridge
In 1998, construction got fully underway on two bridges to cross the Charles River. The first to open, in 1999, was the Leverett Circle Connector Bridge built to supplement the second bridge, the Leonard P. Zakim - Bunker Hill Bridge. The two parallel bridges provide a total of 14 lanes of river-crossing capability. The Leverett Circle Connector Bridge is a four lane, steel box-girder span bridge that is 830 ft. (253 m.) long, and 76 ft. (23 m.) wide. Dubbed “the Baby Bridge,” it won an award in 2001 from the National Steel Bridge Alliance.
The Leonard P. Zakim - Bunker Memorial Bridge
The Leonard P. Zakim - Bunker HillMemorial Bridge is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The1,432 ft. (437 m.) long, 10-lane bridge is also the United States' the first asymmetrical, hybrid cable-stayed bridge using both steel and concrete in its frame. It was completed in 2002, but opened intwo phases in 2003 – I-93 northbound in March and I-93 southbound in December. In 2005 the last part of the bridge, two cantilevered lanes, were completed. The bridge was named in tribute to civil rights activist Leonard P. Zakim and additionally, honors the colonists who lost their lives in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The bridge provides a striking landmark to the Boston skyline.
The Parks and Open Spaces
Major shoreline restoration was a planned component of the overall construction project. Parks, pathways, water features and open spaces were constructed where the elevated Central Artery once stood. Now known as the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) long greenway is the restored area that completes the final chapter of “The Big Dig”construction project. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Conservancy, a nonprofit organization formed by the former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, oversees the maintenance and management of the greenway named in honor of the Kennedy family matriarch. Additionally, the 100-acre park land of Spectacle Island, whose visitor center and docks were opened to the public in 2006 and is managed by Boston's Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Completion Brings Closure
Boston has gained substantial traffic-flow improvements, measurably reduced traffic delays and currently estimates that travelers have saved millions of dollars annually in time and travel costs. Greenhouse gas emissions have been lowered in the city and travel times to and from Logan International Airport have greatly decreased. In addition to improving the accessibility and mobility in and around downtown Boston, the CentralArtery/Tunnel Project has rejoined the neighborhoods that were separated by the Old Central Artery expressway. The improvements to the freeway system of the area have enhanced the quality of life of Boston's residents, businesses and visitors.
“Recognized as the largest, most complex, and technologically challenging highway project in the history of the United States, the Central Artery/Tunnel Project significantly reduced traffic congestion and improved mobility in one of America's oldest and most congested major cities. In addition, it helped improve the environment, and established the groundwork for continued economic growth for Massachusetts and all of New England.”
- From the official website ofthe Massachusetts Department of Transportation – Highway Division
The Central Artery/Tunnel Project
The Leonard P. Zakim-Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
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