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The 128 question, and your weekend slowdowns

Posted by Nichole Davis  September 14, 2012 12:28 AM

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Happy Friday to you!

I'm out of town this weekend, but I hope that you're able to take advantage of the lovely weather and really get out there and enjoy one of the last kind-of-summery weekends before my favorite season, fall, rolls in.

Today's entry has a mishmash of subjects, as I like to do. We, of course, have your MBTA diversions and your construction for the week ahead. I also sat and chatted with my traffic reporter cohorts about the ever-confusing 128/95/93 situation. Plus, a jog in the wrong spot... that's all behind the cut.

Back on Monday - enjoy!

"Regarding... the problem with traffic reporters and other media referring to 128 South and North between Canton and Braintree when its actually I-93 (and US 1) North and South. Wouldn't it be less confusing for these reporters and other news sources to refer to this highway as to what it is today, not nearly 40 years ago? I know its in the local nomenclature, but as you indicate its not helpful for people unfamiliar with the area and locals who have to explain this repeatedly to friends visiting the region. The media could then play a role in educating the traveling public, instead of continuing to confuse a proportion of it."
Bob, Hingham

All good points, Bob. As one of those traffic reporters, I struggle with this sometimes, because I can see both sides of the situation. I sat down with a few of my cohorts in the business and discussed this with them for a few minutes to get their say on things.

When it comes to the 128 between Braintree and Peabody naming issue, the fact is, local nomenclature DOES play a huge part of why we continue to name roads the way we do. Stations that we provide reports for prefer us to use terminology that will make the listener feel more at home, while giving out correct information at the same time. Technically, 128 is the correct local designation of the route between Braintree and Peabody, and continuing into Gloucester (otherwise known as the Yankee Division Highway), so we're not incorrect in saying so.

There's actually been a couple times where officials were considering removing the 128 designation from the road altogether... this was back in the late 90's and early 2000's. Since most residents and commuters still regard the road as 128, they backed away from that idea.

So why, if so many people call the road one name, would the city and state change it in such a dramatic fashion? Back in the 70's, the original plan of construction for Interstate 95 was to lead it directly through the city of Boston, but those plans were scrapped. In order to keep the Interstate System funds flowing into the state, and on the direction of the Boston City Planning Board, the interstates were then designated as they are today.

Again -- would it make more sense just to start calling them 95 and 93? Maybe, yes. Do we get confused calls from tourists and people not familiar with the area asking what we're talking about? Sure. But, as long as our media outlets want to keep it local, we're going to stick with calling it 128.

Another thing my cohorts wanted me to point out: oftentimes we get calls asking where places such as the Jughandle, Roosevelt Circle, and the Cloverleaf are. Trust me - even as a lifelong New England resident, I didn't know where many of those were until I started working in traffic. The reason those places are used as landmarks, and many others, all stems back to the helicopter traffic reporters who we, in a way, descended from... such as Joe Green, Joe Morgan, Trooper Grant Mollison, Eli Sherer, Officer Bill Connell, and even my good pal Malcolm Alter. They would determine the traffic conditions from what they saw high in the sky - and they started using those landmarks which have now just stuck.

(FYI: Roosevelt Circle is off 93's Exit 33 in Medford ... the "Jughandle" are the lights on Route 1 in Peabody where northbound traffic can turn and head south on Route 1 or 128 ... and the Cloverleaf is where 93 and 128 -- sorry, 95! -- intersect.)

Enough of my talk -- what do you think about the issue? Do you want 128 banished from your traffic reports? Do you think tourists just have to put up and shut up? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Kudos for exercise, but...

A friend of mine posted on Twitter today about being stuck on the Red Line due to a jogger. Huh? In the tunnels?

Believe it or not - a man did, indeed, disrupt inbound service between Broadway and Andrew this morning by taking a somewhat leisurely jaunt down the tracks. Adam over at UniversalHub has the video up here. Check it out - you can see the man arrive on scene about :20 in ... he ponders and saunters and eventually just jumps right into the pit and starts to go for it. I also am curious as to the lack of reaction from the two bystanders (bysitters?) watching the whole thing go down.

I'm a fan of people getting their exercise, but trying to outrun a train just won't do you any favors. (Didn't we discuss how you shouldn't be in the pit all of two weeks ago?!)

Paving problems

A heads up to those who normally take the Hancock Street Bridge in Quincy - they're doing some paving work and this is from a release they sent me this week:

On Friday, September 14, 2012, traffic will be moved to the opposite side of the bridge in order to pave the southbound side. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained at all times. During the final phase of the paving work, the ramp to Sagamore Street will close temporarily and traffic will be directed to follow Kendall Street detour.

MBTA Matters

Busing will be in place between JFK/UMass and North Quincy from the start of service Saturday until the end of service Sunday on the Red Line. Buses will make all stops. Track work on the Braintree span is the reason given by the MBTA for the cessation of rail service... they'll be doing this again for a few more weekends this fall.

You guessed it... Quincy Center garage is still closed due to structural concerns. Still no ETA on reopening. Consider the Quincy Adams, Braintree and North Quincy stations as alternates.

Orange Line busing is still in place between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square. You'll find that happening each Sunday through Thursday night until December 28. Diversions start up at 9:00 each evening and last until the end of service that night. The shuttle buses will make all stops. The T says the diversion is necessary as track, signal, and power work are all being done in that stretch to continue the Assembly Square Project.

You'll find slowdowns here... (outside-of-Boston edition)

Neponset River Bridge, Quincy: ongoing paving and expansion joint work closes lanes and has been causing heavier-than-usual delays during rush hour. Seek alternate.

Route 3 southbound from the Braintree Split past the Burgin Parkway (Exit 19), Quincy: watch for lane shifts and ongoing paving work through most weekday middays and overnights. Expect heavy delays.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 109 (Exit 16) and Route 135 (Exit 17), Dedham: ongoing road widening project blocks the left lane through most weekday middays and overnights. Expect significant delays and possible blockages of the active breakdown lane.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 38, Woburn (Exit 35) and Route 3, Burlington (Exits 32 A/B): left lane is closed for ongoing median work. Lane restrictions are in place. Expect heavy delays.

Route 1 Northbound between Main Street and Noah's Motors, Saugus: right lanes are closed weekday nights between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. for water main installation.

North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.

Tobin Bridge in both directions: Watch for continual lane closures as DOT crews continue to paint the bridge. These will be in effect until November.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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