Project Narrative: The City of Springfield, MA (City) Department of Public Works (DPW), in association with the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (PBRM), and the Springfield School Department, will be initiating the desing of a MassDOT funded construction project that includes reconstruction of a section of Birnie Avenue along with repairs to the tunnel / bridge under Birnie Avenue that connects Gerena School, located on Birnie Avenue, to an entrance located off of Main Street, on the east side of Route 91. The tunnel underneath the section of Birnie Avenue has been classified by MassDOT as a bridge structure.
Gerena School was originally constructed in the 1974 +/-, and as part of the construction an underground tunnel system was included in the project that connects Plainfield Avenue with Main Street, allowing students and residents to by-pass the railroad, Birnie Ave, and Route 91, providing a needed connections path for the neighborhood. This tunnel system was included in the lowest levels of the school. Over the last 20 years, certain areas of the school have become susceptible to the penetration of groundwater based upon the type of building construction, age of the facility, and the fluctuating ground water levels in that area of the City, as well as typical decay of some of the original building components. This penetration has resulted to damage to certain areas within the school and has also resulted in certain rooms within the school, to be closed for use.
Over the last 10 – 15 years numerous improvements to the school have resulted in significantly improved air quality and virtually eliminating any groundwater penetration into the school building, with the exception of the bridge / tunnel underneath Birnie Avenue. Over that same time period, the City of Springfield has completed a number of small studies on Birnie Avenue and the tunnel / bridge system, ultimately resulting in approval from MassDOT to fund a large portion of the project.
In 2017 and 2018, MassDOT reconstructed a section of Main Street in the North End of the City, as well as performing some paving improvements along Birnie Avenue. A section of Birnie Aveue in front of Gerena School, was not addressed, as it was intended to be improved as part of this project.
In the summer of 2019, the City of Springfield Department of Public Works retained Alfred Benesch & Company to complete a study within the project area to determine the magnitude, scope and construction cost of the proposed reconstruction / repair of the roadway and bridge / tunnel. A Project Initiation Form and Project Notification Form was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in the Fall of 2019 on behalf of the City of Springfield, and MassDOT has approved the project and assigned a project number. It is the City of Springfield’s responsibility to procure the needed engineering services to initiate the necessary design process. The study completed by Alfred Benesch & Company in 2019 can be found by following the links below.