Ted Williams Tunnel Plaque - Atlas Obscura

Ted Williams Tunnel Plaque

A dedication plaque on this Boston tunnel is a microcosm of a massive, controversy-laden construction project. 


When construction for the Ted Williams Tunnel began in 1991, it was the third in the city to travel underneath Boston Harbor, following the Sumner Tunnel in 1934 and the Callahan Tunnel in 1961. It was the first major link of the larger Central Artery/Tunnel Project, which became known as the Big Dig, and was plagued with controversy.

The Big Dig became the most expensive highway project in U.S. history. The project was beset with delays, cost overruns, leaks, faulty designs, substandard construction, criminal arrests, and the death of one motorist. It was finally completed nine years behind schedule in 2007 with the ultimate cost being approximately $22 billion, which is not expected to be paid off until around 2038. 

The Ted Williams Tunnel itself was finished in December 1995. The famed Boston Red Sox player and Marine aviator it is named for was present at the dedication. A commemorative plaque was placed at each of its entrances but, much like the Big Dig itself, its location leaves much to be desired for motorists who might be curious about the roadside curiosity.

Instead of being placed above the tunnel entrance among the sidewalks near Haul Road or other areas around Boston Harbor away from oncoming traffic, it is located right in the middle of Interstate 90 with drivers catching only a glimpse of the plaque before speeding past it. The only practical way of seeing and reading the information placed is either pulling over along the highway when there is little to no traffic present such as late at night or being stuck in Boston’s infamous traffic jams—ironically, those are what the Big Dig aimed to alleviate.

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