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State Plans to Dig a Third Tunnel to Repair Heroes Tunnel in New Haven

The extra tunnel might continue use after repairs are made.

The state announced transportation improvements on Tuesday, including changes to Heroes Tunnel in New Haven. The state plans to dig a third tunnel to do necessary repair work so it doesn’t tie up traffic.

The twin-tube tunnel carries Route 15, Wilbur Cross Parkway, through New Haven. 

Governor Dannel Malloy said it’s in bad shape, requiring repeated maintenance to fix falling concrete, ice, and bad lighting. But he said it’s also used by as many as 75,000 cars a day.

"If we were to close a lane in a tunnel for the entire 24-hour period, traffic would be tied up for 24 hours," Malloy said. "We can’t do what we have to do, and that’s, quite frankly, why no one’s ever done it before. This thing’s been a mess for many, many years, and we had to come up with an innovative way to fix it without this kind of band-aid approach. …This thing needs total rehabilitation. It’s been used  since 1949."

The preliminary design will cost $2 million. 

DOT Commissioner James Redeker said the extra tunnel might even be useful after the improvements are done.

"In the end, a third tunnel could be used either as an emergency tunnel or could be used permanently for traffic," Redeker said. "That is still part of the work that is under design. We’re just beginning the project with the $2 million design cost, and we will consider whether a full system of three tunnels will be used permanently. Two tunnels and a third and part of that will be the cost of the total project. It’s because we cannot close a tunnel, and have that kind of economic impact on the commuters of Connecticut."

Construction is expected to begin within the next five years.

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