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A new type of Cape escape, and a Zakim unveiling

Posted by Nichole Davis  December 14, 2012 07:17 PM

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Okay, last time for putting this off, I swear.

On Monday, I will have that discussion ready re: the T staying open too late / not late enough. Still trying to throw together some facts and wait for some answers, etc.

Today, though, I've got the results of today's lighting ceremony at the Zakim bridge, some great news for Cape travelers, and your usual construction - along with some not so great news for Orange Line riders.

Remember, if you want to weigh in on that discussion about the T, email me at commuting dot boston at gmail.com. Would love to hear your thoughts.

The next best thing to a green light?

You know the drill.

Anyone who even dares to head to the Cape on any summer weekend will inevitably be stuck in gridlocked traffic for who knows how long - sometimes hours! - trying to cross the Sagamore and Bourne bridges. It's just as bad trying to head home on Sunday, too. I remember at one point this summer I saw delays of almost four hours to cross the bridges. There has to be a better way...

Many reference the Cape Cod bus lines for a good way to put your feet up and let someone else do the maneuvering. That's all well fine and good - but, now, another group is stepping up to try to calm the traveling masses.

The Barnstable Patriot reported earlier this week that weekend rail service between Boston and Cape Cod will start running again this coming summer for the first time in just about 25 years. Service will begin on Memorial Day weekend and run into the Labor Day stretch. Pretty cool news, especially for those of us that prefer the rails over the roads.

It won't exactly be as frequent - or as fast - as commuter rail, though. Tom Cahir is the administrator of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. He told the Patriot that the trains will run once per day from Boston to Hyannis (Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday morning). There will be once per day return trips, too, so it's not like you'll be stuck. Those will run on Saturday and Sunday evenings. They're also considering starting up a Monday morning train, too, but there's nothing positive decided yet.

How's it going to work? Don't expect the Acela or anything like that. Cahir says that three cars will attach onto outgoing Middleborough/Lakeville trains out of South Station. At the end of the line, those cars would then break off and continue to the Cape. The trains will make stops in Wareham, Buzzards Bay and one other stop (either Sandwich or Barnstable) before making it to Hyannis. Cahir says the train will not even move at commuter rail speeds, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to make the trip. (Then again, it's not exactly like traffic's going to be going all that fast either - sometimes you're almost better off walking.)

(Don't actually do that.)

Wendy Norcross is the CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. She says that they're not expecting the service to go crazy right out of the gate, but that they have some big plans involving local businesses.

“I think we’ll have a modest start,” Northcross said. “It’s going to be weekends only, so there will be some restrictions there.” Day-tripping, she believes, will eventually build toward overnight stays. “Some of our hoteliers want to do packages with the train,” she said.

The ride won't be without tasty food, according to Cahir. He's hoping that local businesses will pitch in to help sell concessions as the train makes its way from the end of the Middleborough line to Hyannis.

And, the best part?

“This will not cost the MBTA anything,” said Cahir, who as a former state transportation planner is sensitive to the budget woes of the agency.

Sounds good to me.

Do you intend on using the new Cape train service? Do you think there's enough service to make it a reliable weekend form of transportation? Let me know in the comments.
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Oooh, shiny

The Zakim bridge is a very unique bridge, if not only in design. Add some shiny, pretty lights on it, and it's surely something to behold.

Today, those lights took a leap into the future. A $150 thousand investment by the DOT into a more environmentally friendly system is also going to give them a bit more, shall we say, artistic freedom. The DOT said in a press release today that the new LED lighting technology from Phillips Color Kinetics (out of Burlington) uses "high-bandwidth, bi-directional, Ethernet speed data transmission to enable the full range of dynamic, color-changing effects". Translation: it's got a high-speed internet connection set up. Sweet.

Speaking of those effects - and this is the fun stuff - apparently the DOT is now able to put together a custom color motif for the bridge and turn it on remotely! Before now, they had to send crews out to the bridge to finagle with filters. No longer!

More good news along with this is that the agency didn't really have to do any extra wiring to get the system working. The DOT says workers were able to just plug into the system already in place. Even better news? The new lights will be 80 percent more energy efficient than the previous setup.

Officials at the lighting ceremony said they were excited for the new possibilities.

“Since construction, this bridge has served as a symbol for the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Davey. “Today, we renew our belief that a bridge can be more than a symbol. It can help build community. This new color technology will allow us to promote, engage and inform our community in a sustainable way.”

I, for one, would love to see how many colors they could squeeze onto the bridge at once. That, or a nice nautical theme. Wouldn't navy and grey be nice?

MBTA Matters

Of course, dear Orange Line riders, you're putting up with that busing in place for the Assembly Square project. Service is being shuttled between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square 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 make all stops.

That diversion is spreading over into this weekend, too. Expect busing in the same stretch between the start of service Saturday and the end of service Sunday. Looks like they're trying to get a little extra work in before the diversion picks up later this month.

The T has released their holiday schedule - I'll talk about that more in length next week.

You'll find slowdowns here...

24 northbound between Route 139, Stoughton (Exit 20) and 128, Randolph: expect lane closures and a rough road surface due to ongoing paving work in place until mid-January 2013.

Dartmouth Street at Beacon Street, downtown Boston: watch for restrictions due to ongoing water main work.

Harrison Avenue near Taber Street, Roxbury: watch for restrictions due to ongoing water main work.

Mass Pike eastbound over 391, Chicopee: the median and shoulder will be closed for ongoing bridge work until further notice.

Route 9 eastbound at the Hammond Pond Parkway, Newton: expect heavy delays due to ongoing paving work Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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.

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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