City of Springfield to receive final details of the Gerena Tunnel Project in the next few days

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Gerena Tunnel project in Springfield is set to begin once the city of Springfield receives the final scope from the project designer and gets approval from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, School Superintendent Daniel Warwick, School Committeewoman Maria Perez, Department of Public Works Director Chris Cignoli, and Parks, Buildings and Recreational Management Director Patrick Sullivan are pleased to provide an update on the Gerena Tunnel project Monday in a news release sent to 22News.

According to DPW Director Chris Cignoli, the improvements to the tunnel and to Birnie Avenue itself will have a transformative impact on the neighborhood and will create a safer roadway for vehicles and pedestrians.

“This is yet another positive step forward in moving along this important project for our North End community,” Mayor Sarno stated.

The City of Springfield was notified last December that MassDOT would fund a large portion of the construction cost for the repairs/reconstruction of the Gerena Tunnel project.  Immediately upon notification from the state, the DPW advertised for designs per MassDOT standards, and the selection panel shortlisted firms in mid-March, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city was unable to hold in-person interviews until mid-August. 

Following the interviews, the city selected Alfred Benesch & Co. from Glastonbury, CT as the designer. 

According to the news release, the city is expecting to receive the final scope/fee from the firm for the project in the next few days. Once received the city will review and submit it to MassDOT for their review and approval and once approved the project can begin.

The city and the Massachusetts School Building Authority have spent over $15 million for school improvements at Gerena over the past seven years. These improvements have included a new roof, upgraded boiler, floor remediation in tunnels A & C, new tunnel pumps and motors, a new indoor playground, and upgrades to safety entrances from the tunnels to the school.

“I think the key thing was identifying the water that was coming in there was not bubbling from the bottom but coming from the top on the membrane, where Route-91, the bridge. So I’m very appreciative of the state and MassDOT,” said Sarno.

The new North End pedestrian underpass tunnel is scheduled to be fully completed in
the spring of 2021. The $6.5 million projects will create a new safe and fully accessible crossing
for pedestrians. It will provide passage and help connect the two sections of the North End and Brightwood neighborhoods (Birnie Avenue and Plainfield Street) that are separated by the railroad tracks.

“Again, these two projects have been debated for many decades. I am so proud that my administration has been able to deliver once again to benefit our neighborhoods,” Mayor Sarno said.

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