WASHINGTON - The US House approved a national highway tunnel inspection program yesterday aimed at preventing tragedies such as the Big Dig's fatal ceiling collapse.
In its report last year on the 2006 Big Dig ceiling collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a mandatory federal tunnel inspection program similar to the one used for the nation's bridges. There are no national standards for tunnel inspections.
US Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat who is on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led the effort on Capitol Hill for the measure, which passed the House on a voice vote.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to get something done without another tragedy happening," Capuano said in a telephone interview yesterday. "It will standardize what the rules are so that every tunnel you pass through, in theory, should be held to the same standard."
The NTSB's report said the use of the wrong glue to secure concrete ceiling slabs probably caused the July 10, 2006, collapse that killed Milena Del Valle.
The collapse caused 26 tons of concrete ceiling panels to crash down on her car as the 39-year-old mother of three and her husband drove through an Interstate 90 connector tunnel.
One of the major findings in the report was that the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority failed to implement a timely tunnel inspection program.