Community Real Estate Transportation

MassDOT Preps North Enders for Callahan Tunnel Vent Building Overhaul Project

Callahan Tunnel Vent Building (MassDOT image)

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is planning a $6.5 million overhaul project for the Callahan Tunnel Vent Building. The brick structure is located in the North End on North Street, near the corner of Richmond St. The work is in response to the deteriorating condition of the facade, notably falling bricks.

MassDOT Municipal Liaison John Romano led a community meeting this week at the Nazzaro Center attended by about ten residents and business owners. Peter J. Cavicchi, a MassDOT engineering director and consultant Leo Marino were also present.

The entire 4-sided facade will be demolished and reconstructed. Recently, netting was installed on one corner due to falling materials from the building. This is the first of seven Callahan Tunnel vent buildings that will be overhauled over the coming years.

Callahan Tunnel Vent Building – Post Overhaul Image as Viewed from North St. (MassDOT image)

At previous meetings, MassDOT had proposed some exterior changes to improve the appearance of the building. However, the Landmark Commission denied any material changes, so the reconstructed building will look almost the same as the original 1959 building that exists today. Other options, including those offered by local artist Nathan Swain were also disallowed. (See Local Artist Has Ideas For Callahan Tunnel Vent Building.) One notable change will be the use of brick sheets, instead of individual bricks. Victor Brogna questioned this choice based on other buildings where the facing does not look right.

MassDOT expects to go out to bid shortly and start construction in November 2011. The project is estimated to take 12 months. Construction will be allowed Monday-Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. Saturday work will require MassDOT approval. No Sunday or holiday work is expected. The brick will be cut out, not removed by a wrecking ball.

No street closures are expected, however, 6-7 residential parking spaces will be unavailable during the day due to the construction.

After reconstruction, the tot lot playground will also be open again. The area has been fenced and locked for safety concerns due to the potential of falling materials.

Business owner and resident Jeff Cirace suggested the use of incentives to protect against long construction delays. MassDOT personnel said they would consider that request but were non-committal. Cirace cited a project as part of the Big Dig that resulted in an extended street closure hurting neighboring businesses and residents.

MassDOT will hold another community meeting once a contractor is selected. For more information, please contact MassDOT Municipal Liaison, John Romano at (617) 973-7028 or

The video clip below shows John Romano presenting the latest status of the project.