UPDATE (4:10 PM, January 15): Sara Lavoie of MassDOT has just informed me that, due to the incoming snow, the scheduled closure for tonight on Interstate 93 has been cancelled. They'll be rescheduling soon. Good news for commuters - but be careful in that snow!
Big news tonight for late-night commuters on 93 northbound -- check that out behind the cut -- you'll need to give yourself some extra time to get through Boston, for sure. Also, I've got a question from a reader about a common problem that seems to affect T employees as much as the rest of us commuters.
Later this week, we'll take a look at Governor Patrick's transportation funding plan that was released earlier this week. State officials are calling it "ambitious", and there are some state legislators that say it doesn't do enough to tackle the problem of spending. I'll also have some information on a new traffic pattern going into place on 128 through Needham and Dedham.
Last week, commuters on 93 had to deal with a complete southbound shutdown of the highway for what MassDOT calls "enhanced maintenance". This week, it's northbound commuters who are going to have to re-think their approach.
Starting later on tonight, around 11:00 PM, state police will start to shut down lanes inside the O'Neill Tunnel on 93 northbound. All traffic will eventually be restricted between Government Center and Route 38 (Mystic Avenue) from midnight on Wednesday until 5:00 AM. Detours will be put in place by state police, but expect significant backups.
You may remember these types of closures from the Ted Williams and O'Neill Tunnel shutdowns late last year. Officials say the complete shutdowns are important for inspections and in-depth cleaning. Removing traffic completely also allows crews to access areas that might not be easy to take care of on a normal basis.
Here's a question, sent to me by Ryan, a reader who works downtown:
A very common sight on High St in Boston's Financial District, near the MBTA offices are T vehicles parked with City of Boston Parking tickets as they are in spots not designated for T vehicles. My question is, who is responsible for paying all these citations, which if memory serves, run about $40 a pop. Is it the driver the vehicle is issued to, or the MBTA (i.e. our ever escalating fares!) By my rough and casual guess, this week alone T vehicles have accrued over $1000 in citations. As we often hear of financial troubles for the T, I would hate to learn that the parking preferences of T employees is even a small part of the problem.
This question really piqued my curiosity, because, as someone who also works downtown, I see this sight quite often myself. I asked MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo if the T was, indeed, shouldering the costs of vehicles who happened to get caught by the meter maids. He reassured me that employees of the T, should they decide to get creative with their parking, will be the ones to pay those violations -- not the agency. Ryan had sent along a photo of a ticketed vehicle to me, and Joe said he would pass that on to the department in charge of that specific vehicle to make sure it was taken care of.
Speaking of Mr. Pesaturo, he also informed me earlier today that the new mTicketing app for commuter rail riders has become quite popular -- so much so, in fact, that a purchase this morning by a Lowell Line rider pushed sales using the app past the $1 million mark.
It's not even been three months since the app launched, but it seems to be quickly becoming a mainstay. Joshua Robin is the T's Director of Innovation. He told Jamaica Plain Patch that over 9.5% of all ticket sales on the entire MBTA system are purchased using the mTicketing app. Pretty impressive!
If you haven't given the app a try, download it here and let me know what you think. It's currently available for iPhone and Android platforms.
You'll find slowdowns here... (Downtown Boston edition)
O'Neill Tunnel / Expressway Southbound
The ramps from the Surface Artery at New Chardon Street to the O'Neill and Callahan Tunnels will close Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from the O'Neill Tunnel Southbound to Government Center and the Callahan Tunnel (Exit 24) will shut down Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The O'Neill Tunnel southbound portion from Exit 20 A/B to the tunnel exit will be shut down Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. All traffic will be diverted at that exit.
O'Neill Tunnel / Expressway Northbound
The ramp from Frontage Road to 93 northbound will be closed Tuesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. (Part of the overall shutdown)
The ramp from Route 1A southbound to the Sumner Tunnel will close on Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
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