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Mayor Sarno to Advance City Portion of Gerena Tunnel Project

Springfield, MA – Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced today that he has directed Chief Administrative and Financial Officer (CAFO) TJ Plante, Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (PBRM) Executive Director Patrick Sullivan and Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Chris Cignoli to move forward on the city portion of the Gerena tunnel project.


As part of the city’s ongoing efforts on moving the Gerena tunnel project forward, the city will utilize a $2 million municipal bond for scheduled improvements and repairs of the Gerena tunnel.  $1.6 million will come from the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (PBRM) for design and improvements to the Main Street entrance area roof, as well as to renovate the community rooms attached to the tunnel that have been inaccessible due to the deteriorating conditions.  $400,000 will support the Department of Public Works (DPW) portion of the project for roadway and drainage improvements and repairs.


The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is anticipated to be posted immediately on the City’s Office of Procurement website at:


Mayor Sarno states, “This long overdue project has gone on for far too long with coordination of who is responsible for what?  Simply put, I cannot wait any longer on behalf of the students, teachers and residents of the North End.  We’ll now become the catalyst to get this project done.  We will continue to work with MassDOT on their end of this project.  In the meantime, I have directed CAFO TJ Plante, PBRM Director Patrick Sullivan and DPW Director Chris Cignoli to move forward with our city portion on this project.  I want to acknowledge and thank the New North Citizens Council, especially Executive Director Maria Ligus, and Chief Operating Officer Jose Claudio for their continued and ongoing efforts in support of this project.  I want to also acknowledge School Committeewoman Maria Perez for her unyielding leadership and advocacy on behalf of the residents of the North End.  I now want to encourage and appreciate State Representative Carlos Gonzalez and State Senator Adam Gomez to advocate to MassDOT to expedite their end of the project.”


PBRM Director Patrick Sullivan stated, “Thanks to Mayor Sarno’s leadership, the Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management will allocate $1.6 million of this $2 million municipal bond to put out to bid the design of the Main Street entrance roof area of the tunnel work that is not going to be covered by MassDOT.  In addition, the balance of these funds will also fund the design and renovation of the community rooms associated with the tunnel.  I anticipate that the RFQ’s will be ready for posting by the end of business today.  We are proud of the work completed to date and look forward to continuing to move this project along for the betterment of our residents, students, families and school staff.”


DPW Director Chris Cignoli stated, “The DPW is excited to get this project formally off the ground.  We will continue to coordinate with MassDOT on advancing this project along so that all the problems that have plagued this tunnel will be addressed and resolved once and for all.  The improvements to the Tunnel and to Birnie Ave itself will have a transformative impact to the neighborhood and will create a safer roadway for vehicles and pedestrians.  The coordination with the Springfield School Department, Facilities Department, and the neighborhood has been fantastic and will continue through the entire project.”


In January of 2020, the City of Springfield was notified that MassDOT had approved construction funding repairs to the Gerena School tunnel that is under Birnie Avenue that allows access from Main Street to the Gerena School.  The approved project also includes improvements to Birnie Avenue in the area of the school that will better control and slow traffic in the area of the school making the area safer for students, pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicular traffic.


The planned repairs to the tunnel by MassDOT and DPW will include adding new drainage systems on either side of the tunnel in Birnie Avenue to intercept groundwater as well as installing a new watertight membrane system around the tunnel to ensure that groundwater does not penetrate into the useable spaces in the building.   Necessary structural repairs will also be made to the tunnel roof system as part of the waterproofing work.


The total project costs for the roadway and membrane system is approximately $2 million with MassDOT paying for 70-75% of the project, with the remainder covered by the City.


The project design is currently undergoing a pre-25% design review with MassDOT.  In the spring of 2022, MassDOT will be providing a target construction date through the regional Transportation Improvement Plan which prioritizes all of the regional roadway, highway, and bridge construction projects.


In total, the Gerena tunnel project will cost $4 million.  $1.6 will be utilized by the City to repair and renovate the Main Street tunnel entrance roof and community rooms, $400,000 will support DPW efforts to improve drainage and roadway improvements.  MassDOT will cover 70-75% of the $2 million costs for improvements and repairs for the roadway and membrane system with the city covering the remainder of the project.