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Big Dig Tunnel Lights To Be Replaced For $54 Million

BOSTON (CBS) - The state highway administrator says it will cost $54 million to replace all the defective light fixtures in the Big Dig tunnels.

Design and manufacturing defects have created a dangerous corrosion that could cause the 8-foot long lights to fall onto traffic below.

Frank DePaola told WBZ NewsRadio Thursday the best solution is a complete replacement.

"There's 25,000 individual light fixtures. Every one of them will be replaced with a new, sealed plastic, LED fixture. We anticipate the total replacement cost would be $54 million," he said.

"We anticipate being able to use the money that was in the Central Artery Trust Fund, which was recovered as a settlement for defects on the original construction."

One light fixture fell onto the road in the Tip O'Neill Tunnel in February 2011.

Since then, engineers have temporarily reinforced the light fixtures with plastic ties.

The state hired an independent consultant to look at the lights in the entire 7.5 mile tunnel system and explore alternative technologies. That report was finished last month and with it came the recommendation on what to do with the lights.

DePaola said the work will likely begin sometime next year and will probably take a full year to complete.

Officials believe the new energy-efficient LED lights could save $2.5 million a year in electricity costs.

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