Sumner Tunnel Restoration: Project history

After nearly a century of service, the Sumner Tunnel will undergo a restoration starting in 2022. Learn about the restoration plan here.

Table of Contents

Why a restoration?

What we need to do

Corrosion and wear-and-tear have deeply impacted wall panels and gutters. There's exposed rebar on the ceiling, and even after resurfacing, pavement conditions are poor – a fact that should be obvious to anyone who drives the length of the tunnel. Ventilation, drainage, security, and fire suppression systems all must be brought up to modern code. At this point, we're well beyond patches and repairs: the only way to keep the Sumner Tunnel in service is with a top-to-bottom restoration.

Tunnel arch
Ceiling and wall deterioration inside the Sumner Tunnel.

Current conditions

MassDOT conducts routine tunnel inspections. Over time, the inspections have identified structural and safety issues that include:

  • Chipped and crumbling concrete
  • Rusted reinforcements
  • Cracked wall panels
  • Broken light fixtures
  • Deteriorating roadway surface
tunnel roof deterioration
Example of exposed rebar and missing concrete sections in tunnel ceiling.
exposed rebar
Example of rusted reinforcements and chipping concrete, as well as damaged light fixtures.


Restoration plan

The restoration plan for the tunnel includes repairs and improvements to the walls, deck, and ceiling inside the Sumner Tunnel.

This project will include overnight and weekend road closures. There will be a complete closure of the Sumner Tunnel in the Summer of 2023 to:

  • Restore the overhead arch and ceiling
  • Paint interior tunnel walls and add fireproof boards
  • Install new lights inside the tunnel
  • Install new utility conduits and cables

Once completed, the Sumner Tunnel will be in compliance with the majority of current design and safety standards. The project will provide a new roadway surface for vehicles traveling through the tunnel, and extend the lifetime of the tunnel overall.

On a fast track The Sumner Tunnel Project is incorporating accelerated construction techniques to complete the work as quickly and as safely as possible. This will help shorten the timeline of construction and the duration of impacts felt by the public. The following will help to put our project on a fast track:

  • Accelerated techniques and materials such as off-site prefabrication and high-performance concrete will be used when possible to accelerate construction.
  • The original length of the full tunnel closure was 7 months. The current construction plan entails accelerated construction techniques and work taking place 24/7 inside the tunnel. This allowed us to shorten the full tunnel closure to 4 months (2 months in Summer 2023 and 2 months in Summer 2024).
  • By coordinating the full tunnel shutdowns, we are avoiding 40 individual weekend shutdowns. This helped us to shorten the construction timeline by 10 months.
  • The Design-Build approach provides financial incentives for the construction team to finish the work on time or sooner, and penalizes them for delayed timelines.

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Construction hotline (508) 510-2920



Project hotline (508) 510-2920


10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

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