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An Allstonian Aerosmith avoidance, and Tobin toll woes

Posted by Nichole Davis  November 6, 2012 09:01 AM

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Things I never thought I'd be able to do: go see Aerosmith for free. (Well, I still can't - but you can!) Today Steven Tyler and the gang are in Allston for a show in their old apartment and it's going to cause some traffic bedlam. All the info on that is behind the cut.

Also, believe it or not, a nor'easter is heading our way! At least, so they tell me. That, of course, may be the first encounter with the s-word* for some for this season. Traffic Wednesday into Thursday will be a doozy, but they're saying the incoming storm isn't going to be nearly as strong as That Pesky Hurricane Who Shall Not Be Named On This Blog, so that will help things a bit.

Anyway, also behind the cut, I've got your downtown construction. We also have a question from a reader in Peabody who has noticed a change in toll collection on the Tobin - the last place that anyone needs extra delays.

Later this week I'll talk about a new parking discount in place at Logan, among other things. Enjoy your week and stay safe!

* "snow"... I know, I didn't want to say it either.

Walk this way - you won't be able to drive

You may have heard about this over the past couple days, but if you haven't, grab your Aqua Net and scarf-covered microphone stands. Aerosmith is coming back to the city Monday afternoon for a free show in their old apartment in Allston. Pretty sweet, right?

Except for that whole shutting-down-half-the-neighborhood-thing while it happens.

The show is going to start up around noon on Monday at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue. reports that not only will the band pack the house with the show, they'll also be dedicating a plaque for the building. You can imagine that this will be a Very Busy Event.

So, keep this in mind if you have to head through Allston:

  • The Green Line's "B" branch will be suspended between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM between Washington Street and Packard's Corner. Consider walking down Washington or Harvard Streets to access the "C" line through Brookline for trolley access.
  • A stretch of Commonwealth Avenue will be shut down in both directions between Allston Street and Harvard Avenue from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Expect heavy vehicular and foot traffic delays through the area.

The long and the short of it - if you live in Allston, Steven Tyler and the gang are going to make your commute hell. (But that's okay, because, I mean, come on, it's Aerosmith...)

Troublesome Tobin tolls

I live in south Peabody and commute to the southern edges of Boston for work. Thus, I have been enduring the lane closures on the Tobin since April. As you have previously discussed, there is no real "op-out" of the Tobin for folks like me. Public transit could take me over two hours one way (without unforeseen MBTA delays) and going up to 129/95 to connect to 93 is not reasonable- I live too far down 128 to have that make sense.

In any case, my main question is why in the world did they decide to change the toll collection configuration? Now, E-ZPass commuters can now only go through the E-ZPass lanes, instead of how it was previously- we could go through any lane. I would be fine with this, except that of the six lanes open during the morning commute, only two lanes are for E-ZPass users. There causes quite the backup. Reading on the MassDOT website, they stated that 63% of Tobin commuters use E-ZPass. Wouldn't it make more sense, then, to have more dedicated E-ZPass lanes than cash only lanes?

For a north shore commuter, this is really rubbing salt in the wound. I sit in traffic because of lane closures every day that double (or more than double) my commute and then have to pay a toll, unlike South Shore or 93 southbound commuters. Now, the wait to pay that toll is even longer. Any word on why MassDOT is employing this seemingly hair-brained idea? It seems like they are trying to discourage E-ZPass use. Thank you!
Angela, Peabody

I definitely see where you are coming from, Angela. Keeping the traffic flow moving should be a high priority, especially on those hectic Monday mornings and Friday afternoons where the bridge is much more jammed than usual.

I talked with Sara Lavoie, the press secretary for MassDOT, about the issue. Sara says that it's not so much a traffic issue, but more about safety:

By restricting Cash customers to dedicated lanes, E-Z Pass customers are less likely to stop short and have an accident. With central E-ZPass lanes the hope is that we are also reducing the need for lane changes. Both E-ZPass and Cash customers can now predict the behavior of the motorist in front of them.

With the heavy congestion on the bridge along with all the construction, there's been a bit of an uptick of incidents involving minor crashes. Just one of those by those toll booths can make an already awful commute ten times worse. Sara says that the redistribution of traffic, along with the new signs, will be able to help the DOT and authorities manage heavy delays when one of these incidents do take place.

She did, however, say that there is some good news with this -- the signs can easily be changed back to the "ALL VEHICLES" option if the DOT and toll officials deem it necessary. So, it looks like this is going to be a relatively permanent change, at least for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, with the first flakes of snow, we're going to start to see that painting wrap up on the bridge... at least, that's according to the schedule we've been given. I'll be sure to check in with the DOT in the next few weeks to make sure we are still on track, as November was originally the given month for things to wrap up.

Obviously Angela doesn't think this is a good idea, and I can see why ... but what do you think? Is the effort to prevent crashes on the bridge and better manage traffic worth the extra delays? Let me know in the comments.

You'll find slowdowns here... (downtown Boston edition)

Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Southbound

The Dewey Square Tunnel section will close Tuesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Essex Street to 93 southbound will close Tuesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from the Surface Artery southbound at New Chardon St. to 93 southbound and the Callahan Tunnel will close Tuesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Leverett Circle to 93 southbound will close Monday and Friday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The Purchase Street exit ramp (Exit 23) will close Monday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel Northbound

The ramps from Essex Street and Atlantic Avenue to 93 northbound will close Monday and Tuesday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

The Leverett Connector ramp, which carries traffic to the Tobin Bridge northbound, will close on Monday and Tuesday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

3 left lanes will close through the O’Neill Tunnel northbound over the Zakim Bridge on Tuesday from 10 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from Leverett Circle to 93 northbound, and the Sumner Tunnel to Storrow Drive, will close on Tuesday from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from Rutherford Avenue to the Tobin Bridge will close on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Westbound

The ramp from Congress Street to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will close Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from the Airport arrival level to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will close on Wednesday from 11:45 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will close on Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

Access from Route 1A (at Logan Airport) to the Pike westbound will be closed on Wednesday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Eastbound

The ramp from Exit 20 in the O'Neill Tunnel southbound to the Pike eastbound will close Monday from 11:59 PM to 5 AM.

++ COMPLETE CLOSURE ++ of the Pike Eastbound at Exit 22 (Prudential Center / Copley Square) Tuesday through Friday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

Leverett Circle Connector Tunnels

The Leverett Circle Connector Tunnel westbound will close Monday through Thursday from 10:30 PM to 5 AM.

This blog is not written or edited by 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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