MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin issued the following statement regarding a vehicle being struck this morning by a metal manhole cover on I-93 southbound near the exit of the O Neill Tunnel in Boston:
Our sympathy goes out to the family of the victim involved in this horrific incident this morning. This tragedy is leading us to take several steps immediately out of an abundance of caution. This afternoon MassDOT crews, including welders, will be joined by Massachusetts State Police to examine all travel lane highway infrastructure on the metropolitan highway system in Boston to make sure the hardware is seated properly. This hardware includes manhole covers, grates, and covers for electrical panels. Lane closures will be required during this process.
If crews discover hardware which is not determined to be secure, the hardware will be tacked and welded immediately. What is found today during the inspection of more than 500 pieces of hardware on the roadway, will dictate whether the inspection should be broadened of hardware outside the Boston area on state roadways. What caused the manhole to become dislodged is part of the ongoing investigation being conducted by Troop E of the Massachusetts State Police with the assistance of the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, the State Police Crime Scene Services Section, and the State Police Detective Unit for Suffolk County.
Manhole covers, such as that involved in today s incident, weigh in excess of 200 pounds. The equipment involved in the incident covers a storm drainage system and was last inspected June 12, 2014, and there is no indication the manhole has been removed recently for any necessary work. MassDOT conducts tunnel inspections of overhead hardware such as lighting fixtures and exhaust fans every six months in the tunnel system and inspections of hardware on the road surface in the tunnel system every two years.
MassDOT prides itself in putting the safety of drivers as its first priority and if steps are needed to be taken following inspections this afternoon to further ensure the safety of the public then steps will be taken.