If you're a frequent commuter through Leverett Circle downtown, you might have noticed that the ride has been a bit more gridlocked lately -- and not just during the rush hour. What's holding everyone up is a problem in the tunnel that carries the ramp from Leverett Circle to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound.
You may have noticed that, for the past few weeks, there's been a large steel plate sitting across the ramp inside that tunnel. As drivers come up on the steel plate, the road's not in very good shape and that causes them to drastically reduce their speed. Of course, that's going to cause everyone else behind that driver to slam on the brakes - ergo, causing massive backups. At one point last week we saw the O'Brien Highway, Leverett ramps, Storrow Drive and Leverett Circle essentially stopped during the middle of afternoon rush because of this.
Sara Lavoie from the DOT says that this won't be a problem for too much longer. She says that state police will be out assisting traffic during rush hours, but you'll also find crews out there working this week during the overnight hours to fix the "defect" in the road that's being covered with the steel plate. All should be well by next week. Until then, seek an alternate route or expect to sit.
I'm a big fan of commuting apps, and we've discussed them several times here on the blog. Mashable has come out with a new list of "excellent" apps to make your commute a little bit easier. I've already featured a few of them, including Waze and Hopstop, but a few more caught my eye.
(Keep in mind, I haven't used any of these apps yet, and I'm not being paid to review them, either!)
- Textecution is the only paid app on the list, checking in at a steep $29.99. It's also only for Android platforms, at least so far. However, it's created from an interesting concept: giving parents more control over their teenagers texting while behind the wheel. Dosomething.org reports that almost 30 teenagers die per year from accidents involving texting behind the wheel. This app disables texting capabilities if the phone is moving faster than fifteen miles per hour. The app reportedly determines this by using the phone's GPS. Parents can temporarily disable the service by responding to a request sent through the app by the teen. If you're trying to be sneaky and just take the app off your phone - sorry, kids, the app automatically sends your parents a message informing them of it. I can see, though, how this would make things frustrating for passengers, and I'm not sure it would be the best for those kids who commute to school on the T.
- Gasbuddy is a free app that, well, helps you find cheap gas. It's pretty straightforward, and I've heard mostly positive reviews from friends of mine who have it on their phones. One feature I really like about the app is that you can create a list of favorite stations in the area to have a one-stop list available to you whenever you're on your way to, say, work or school or home. According to Mashable, you can also earn points and rewards. Upon looking at their site as I write this, I see that one of the current prizes is $250 in free gas. Living in the city, that would easily get me through two months... but I'm curious to see how long it takes to rack up those rewards.
- Smartpark seems like it would be a really good idea for those of us that have to park in garages -- or are very forgetful with meters (guilty as charged). This app, which is also free, is also only available for Android. (It figures, as I just switched to iPhone.) You can set an alarm to go off at a predetermined time before your meters are supposed to run out, so you can go and jam them with quarters again and get back to whatever it is you're doing. Also, you can set the location of your car when you park, and the app uses GPS and altitude readings (!) to assist you back. Pretty cool. So far, I've only read a couple of reviews that complain about the alarm being disabled accidentally, but my biggest hangup with this so far is that I can't try it out.
Do you use any of these apps? If so, do you like them? Are there any other apps that you've been using lately that you think are worth a try? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
And to leave you with something from the wild side:
Normally we don't see these little ones much downtown, but one MBTA worker was quite surprised to see a raccoon on an escalator at Downtown Crossing. The video, which was posted to YouTube on the mbtagm account, shows the worker heading up the escalator, only to turn tail and run backwards down to the station. You have to squint a bit, but several times throughout (starting around :23), you can see the raccoon powering down the up escalator -- every time, though, he is thwarted and rides back to the top.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told Universal Hub that animal control were able to remove the rodent "before Transit Police could issue a citation for fare evasion".
I wouldn't say this is up there on the All-Time Best MBTA Animal Stories list, but it's good for a chuckle. Hopefully the animal control officers were able to deposit him in a place where he can get his exercise by breaking open trash cans...
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