For all the frustrations that come with driving in the winter months, many commuters who use the Tobin Bridge were actually looking forward to this winter. After all, construction on the bridge over the summer and fall of this past year kept traffic completely gridlocked during both morning and afternoon rush hour -- and those backups snarled traffic all through the city of Boston and beyond.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but winter's on it's way out -- and the construction's coming back.
Our friends at the DOT have announced that lane closures will start to pop up sometime next week, but those will only be temporary. Long-term lane restrictions will be installed during the second week of April.
Here's the breakdown of how they're going to roll out said lane closures:
- March 25 - April 7: Temporary lane closures will show up from time to time. Platforms and rigging for the work will be installed on the bridge. Touch-up work will be done on the work from last year.
- April 8 - April 15: Barrels will be placed in the road where the permanent lane closures will eventually show up.
- April 15 - 22: Barriers and side shielding will be installed on both sides of the bridge to block traffic from the construction. A "containment system" (not unlike the one seen last year) will also be installed to keep paint fumes, chips and spray from getting onto the bridge (and possibly onto your car).
- April 22: permanent lane closures will be in place and construction will begin.
As a refresher as to what exactly they need to shut down the lanes for -- this is all part of a three-year-long construction project. This past summer and fall, they were sandblasting, painting and repairing much of the center span of the 63 year old bridge. They'll continue to do that this spring. The lane closures will be in place until sometime in November, so we're going to be stuck with these heavy delays for a while.
Some good news -- "open road tolling" is set to be showing up soon on the Tobin. Granted, it won't be in place until the fall, so this spring and summer will be jammed up at the toll booth coming into the city. However, once the system is in place, it'll allow traffic to move much more freely over the bridge, which could help to ease the hefty construction backups -- at least sort of.
The DOT is considering the set-up on the Tobin to be a test subject, in a way, to see if the electronic tolling would also work well for the Pike. What is "open road tolling", exactly? Instead of cash changing hands, you'll simply receive a bill at the address linked to your license plate. E-Z Pass customers will just go through the tolls with their transponders as they normally would.
Anyway, if you want to learn more about the construction project, or speak your mind to members of MassDOT who will be there, a public meeting will be taking place on Monday, April 8 at Chelsea City Hall. It's set to start at 6:00 PM.
If you're heading to Maine (or happen to be a Mainer reading -- in which case, hello!), keep in mind that a major construction project in the Falmouth area is about to begin and cause a doozy of a delay.
The project is going to be on what's called the "Falmouth Spur" - that 3.7 mile stretch of road connects 295 and 95 for easy access in both directions. MaineDOT reports that crews have to start on a $3.5 million bridge rehabilitation project next week -- which will last until November. The project includes raising the bridge to give drivers on 95 (a.k.a. the Maine Turnpike) some more clearance, as well as replacing bridge railings and a bridge deck.
The ramp from 95 southbound onto the spur is going to close for three weeks starting on Monday. It will also close again for a week sometime around the end of May or early June, and then once again from early June straight through until November.
The ramp from the spur to 95 southbound will also be closed - but just for one week near the end of the month of May. Of course, this is all subject to weather, etc.
You'll find slowdowns here...
Mass Pike westbound inside the Prudential Tunnel: two left lanes will be closed Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Route 9 in both directions at the Hammond Pond Parkway, Newton: alternate lane closures will be in place for road work Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Tobin Bridge outbound between the old toll booth and Beacon Street, Chelsea: the right lane will be closed for electrical maintenance work Wednesday through Saturday from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
Tobin Bridge inbound: the right lane will be closed Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
O'Neill Tunnel northbound, Boston: watch for the two left lanes to be closed for road work on Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
93 southbound carpool (HOV) lane, Somerville: will be closed for work on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
93 northbound at Sullivan Square, Somerville (Exit 28): the right lane will be closed for bridge inspection work on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Expressway southbound at Southampton Street/Andrew Square, Boston: the right lane will be closed for road work Wednesday from 9:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
Expressway northbound at Mass. Ave (Exit 18), Boston: ++ CLOSED ++ from 11:50 PM to 5:00 AM on Wednesday. Traffic will be detoured onto Frontage Road and Atlantic Avenue to rejoin 93 northbound after a short time.
Expressway southbound between the O'Neill Tunnel and South Bay Center, Boston: two left lanes will be closed for work on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Mass Pike westbound, approaching the Weston Tolls (Exit 14), Weston: the left lane will be closed for bridge inspection Thursday for bridge inspection between 10:00 AM and noon. The left lane will be closed on the eastbound side in the same area from noon to 2:00 PM.
Mass Pike eastbound approaching the Expressway/South Station (Exit 24 A/B/C), Boston: watch for a left lane closure for road work on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. The exit ramps to 24B and 24C will be closed during this time.
Ted Williams Tunnel westbound, Boston: the right lane will be closed for road work from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM on Wednesday. The left lane will be closed in the same stretch on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Ted Williams Tunnel westbound, Boston: the ramp to the Expressway (Exit 24) will be closed on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM for work.
495 northbound at the 95 merge (Exit 56), Amesbury: watch for guardrail repair crews Wednesday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
495 in both directions at Route 4 (Exit 33), Chelmsford: bridge inspection will close lanes on Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 128 in both directions at Washington Street (Exit 36), Woburn: road work will close travel lanes Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Route 2 in both directions between Bedford Road, Lincoln and just past Crosby's Corner, Concord: road construction closes lanes Sunday through Friday from 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
Route 3 northbound between Route 4 (Exit 32) and Route 40, Chelmsford (Exit 33): construction work closes lanes each Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 5:30 AM.
Route 128 in both directions between Route 135, Dedham (Exit 17) and Highland Avenue, Needham (Exit 19): continuous lane closures are in effect until further notice as part of the 128 widening project. Expect extra slowdowns, especially during mid-days, for work. Lane split still in effect southbound between Great Plain Avenue and Route 135 - will be until at least the end of 2013.
North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge, Cambridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.
The author is solely responsible for the content.