Callahan re-opens Monday morning; Longfellow undergoes shakerectomies

Work on the Longfellow Bridge

MassDOT Longfellow Bridge Construction Animation

Workers prepare to take top off a Longfellow shaker. Photo by MassDOT

State officials say the Callahan Tunnel should open round about 5 a.m. Monday morning, which will begin to restore karma to Boston traffic and eventually end those mysterious clumps of state troopers along Rte. 16.

However, late-night drivers can expect some delays elsewhere along I-93 for the rest of the week as MassDOT gets the mighty highway back into fighting form:

Most notably, the effort requires the closure of Exit 24/Gov’t Center on I-93 Southbound on Sunday night into Monday morning and the complete closure of I-93 Southbound through Boston overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, the commercial-vehicle and HOV restrictions on the South Boston Bypass Haul Road and the HOV express lanes to the airport, respectively, go back into force.

Meanwhile, workers have started taking apart the Longfellow Bridge's salt and pepper shakers as they rehab the bridge:

The first step in dismantling the towers is to erect scaffolding around them. Concurrent with removing the stones, the old mortar is cut out from between the stones. Additionally, the concrete liner is demolished, and this work takes place inside the towers.

The original bridge plans and numbering system were used to create a series of stone coursing drawings. The coursing drawings, or two dimensional models, show the individual stones level by level, or course by course. These drawings are important as the current stone numbering system is based on this historic information. Also, these numbers and plans ensure that the proper stones are put in the correct locations during reassembly of the towers. Using this combination of historic and current information, each stone is documented, its condition noted, and then tracked throughout the removal, restoration and reassembly process. Prior to removal, the stones are coded with the corresponding stone coursing drawing number and photographs taken of their condition and location. A temporary marking number is attached to the stone using painter’s tape, which is non-marring. To mark the stones permanently after removal, a number is written on a non-exposed face of the stone, typically the top of the stone, and a photo taken to confirm the number. An arrow showing the direction of installation is also put on the non-exposed face.

Once the stones are documented, they are lifted via a barge-mounted crane on the Charles River using straps or pins and chains. Cracked or damaged stones are lifted onto the barge using additional support and protection. Any stones that are broken or in danger of breaking may be removed in parts, which will be carefully documented and marked to ensure that the pieces are kept together throughout the process.

The stones will be moved via barge to the contractor’s staging area where they will be cleaned, repaired and stored on wood pallets covered with tarp for protection until it’s time to reassemble them. The upstream towers are currently being dismantled and will be reassembled later this year. The downstream towers will be dismantled in fall 2015 during the final phase of construction.



Free tagging: 


Callahan Opening

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Wouldn't it have been a great idea to open the Callahan Tunnel for pedestrian traffic or a 10K race on Sunday?...Might even have been a fund raising possibility for the One Fund. Just saying.

Another option

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Show up, pay a $5 or $10 "toll" and take a walk or bike ride through it. They could even have some sandhogs on hand to chat about their work and what was fixed and cleaned.

Thank you!

If I had to hear "If I wanted to sit in traffic to get to the airport, I would have stayed in L.A." one more time I would have cracked some one!

Not if the Turkey Liberation Front has any say!

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I understand they are working on releasing Turkeys of Mass Destruction on Thanksgiving Day. The working concept is to bio-engineer and scale up turkeys to be relative in size to the Longfellow Bell's shaker as today's turkeys are to the lil cardboard Bells box. Turkeyzillas, in layman's terms.

You've been warned!

Oh the humanity!!

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No the first bridge to be targeted either, it seems.


Awesome, Indeed

One of the best days of my career. Very satisfying to be a part of the bridge project. Today, at least. :)

I was gonna say...

What are the odds that 100% of these stones will be found when it's time to reassemble the towers?

I know I'm probably gonna get

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I know I'm probably gonna get slapped for asking this, but is it absolutely necessary to take the towers apart? Seems like a huge, complex and expensive undertaking - unless they were critically deficient in some way...

I've been in those things

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...back when the doors just flapped open in the 70s.

I'd go and play saxophone on the parapet late on a summer night like some twerp wanna be Sonny Rollins.

They are basically hollow all the way up. Their role is mysterious.

They are built like military things circa US Imperial Era, (1890s to World War One) when United Fruit was launched. Maybe they had some 'just in case role for coastal defense?

Or a sturdy spot to repel Cambridge rabble marching on Beacon Hill.

The bridge also has a few odd doors on the Beacon Hill side where you could stow an artillery piece or two.

The coast has a bunch of these quaint military things from the days before missiles.

Interesting theory RE the towers being for actual defense

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I've just assumed they were decorative but now that you mention it the vertical windows are very similar to gun slots in armories and forts.

Reminds me of when I attended University of California, San Diego in 90's. Campus was a real hotbed of student protests in the 60's. There were urban legends about tunnels being built for ant-riot defense as well as that certain buildings and even campus layout were designed with this in mind.

I'd say your theory is much more likely to have some basis in fact but it's interesting nonetheless to wonder about structures' intended designs when you usually just take the completed work at face value.

I'm going to call urban legend on this one

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Right up there with the idea that the Park Square castle was built as a redoubt for Brahmins when the Irish rose up in rebellion.

The Longfellow was built in the early part of the 20th century (I think it opened for travel in 1907 or thereabouts). Too late to do anything about immigrants, too early for the Red Scare of 1919.

I suspect it was built that way because it looked cool - same as with the castle (originally an armory). Back then, people actually thought there was merit to making public structures look cool (also see the Chestnut Hill pumping stations) - look at all the Norsemen adorning the bridge.

Drawbridge, Red-Blue Connector and Lights for boats

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Some interesting information:

The Wikipedia article notes that the towers provided "stairway access to pedestrian passageways beneath the bridge." Another site, , noted that the if the bridge was built as a drawbridge, which was originally required by the War Department (having to do with navigation of ships) then there would have been towers. So perhaps the drawbridge idea was reflected in the use of towers which themselves wound up being both ornamental, utilitarian as entrances to passageways? The towers also provide a visual balance to the Viking sculpture underneath the roadbed of the bridge.

Another item that I learned is that there was a Red-Blue connection decades ago. This was very though from the connection discussed today.

I also wonder whether the little windows might have been intended to be some kind of light source? Perhaps a light source for boats sailing on the Charles at night?

The smaller pepper pot sets

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...on both sides of the river do that and may be what is referenced. I never saw any evidence of any stairwell in the 4 large ones, just a chamber.

The period was anxious about sea invasion as a planning contingency. Captain Thayer Mahan's essay on naval power was making the rounds among the influentials of the day such as Henry Lodge Version 1.

They really didn't abandon some belief in the need for coastal artillery until after the Second World War.

Maybe it was a way of getting building money from the fed by including defense potential.

It's a lot of rock to cut and move for an ornament.

old Red-Blue connector

I don't think this was ever used in revenue service. Its purpose was to tow Blue Line cars to the Red Line yard in Harvard Square for repairs. (This was back when the Blue Line ran only between Bowdoin and Maverick; Orient Heights yard did not exist until the 1950s)