It would be difficult to argue that traffic here in Boston, at times, is anything but mind-numbingly horrible. Think about it - especially in the summer, on a Friday evening ... a commute that normally takes you half an hour can jam up to easily two or three hours.
Every so often, a survey comes out comparing our traffic to other cities - and, this time, a survey by INRIX, a traffic information group, has put us in the top ten (but just barely!).
Cities all over the United States made the top ten list, and Boston is number ten in the most recent survey. The 2012 Traffic Scorecard determines how significant a commute is affected by congestion in any given city, and then assigns each of these cities a "Congestion Score". How's that calculated? According to USA Today:
The scorecard assigns an index score for the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, and individual road segments within those areas. Scores are functions of the percentage difference between road segments' uncongested (or "free flow") travel time and the calculated travel time on the roads during peak hours (6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday). 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed population density from the 2010 Census, as well as travel time and commuting methods for each metro area from the Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey.
We can claim the ninth highest population density in the country, with just over 1300 people per square mile. It takes about half an hour for the average commute, which is tied for the tenth highest average commute time nationwide. However, one highway is pinpointed in the study as causing most of the trouble - and that's 93. Between the stretch through downtown, the Southeast Expressway, and north of the city, it's one of the 50 most congested highways in the country - and the study says that Big Dig efforts to relieve congestion weren't helpful, really, at all.
Some good news, though, from the study - commuters in Boston are big fans of public transportation. 76 percent of commuters came into the city using cars, which might seem like quite a bit. However, the INRIX study shows that number is the eighth lowest out of all cities surveyed. It doesn't matter much, though, in some places that there's a big push for public transport. Take New York City, for example - the survey says that while over 31% of commuters utilize public transit to get into and out of the city for work (which is over double any other metro area surveyed), it's still not putting much of a dent into the congestion issue. New York's congestion ranked number five in the country with an average 35 minute commute (the highest nationwide).
Rounding out the top five: Los Angeles tops the list, followed by Honolulu, San Francisco, and Austin. Read more about the study here.
Ah, the Silver Line. It's the only rapid bus transit line that the T utilizes, operating on four different paths throughout the city - and some officials say it might be just what the city of Chelsea is looking for to solve some significant transportation woes.
Proponents of the project say an extension of the Silver Line would significantly ease major overcrowding on the 111 bus line that runs from Haymarket into and out of Chelsea. Commuter rail is said to not provide frequent enough service to and from the city, and the Blue Line is the only subway line that services the area. The project would also include an extension of the Silver Line into East Boston.
Where the exact route would go isn't quite clear yet. Officials say it would start at South Station, follow the normal Silver Line route through the Ted Williams Tunnel, and make a stop at the Airport. However, where the stops would be placed in Chelsea and East Boston is still under significant debate. It looks likely that the route could utilize the Chelsea Street Bridge and could possibly ride over a stretch of railroad tracks recently acquired by the T.
There's a nine month study being conducted by the MBTA to determine not just feasibility of the project, but what the benefits would be and what the cost is looking like to implement such a thing. Public meetings have already been held, too, for the opinions of locals - the most recent on May 1st at Chelsea City Hall. Officials say the project will cost in the tens of millions of dollars, but according to Chelsea city manager Jay Ash, it's a "modest expenditure". Check out the details on the MBTA study here.
Some pushback on the project is starting to emerge. Complete funding for Governor Patrick's ambitious transportation plan is looking less and less likely. Some legislators and officials at the MBTA say that's a perfect reason to start implementing these lower-scale transportation reforms, but others say now is simply not the time for new projects, even if they would be beneficial and low-cost, all things considered.
One issue that would have to be tackled, were the idea to take off - the Silver Line would need a major boost when it comes to infrastructure. There's simply not enough buses in the fleet to service any sort of extension. Something to consider, also, would be if the T would think about just replacing the entire fleet with new electric buses or if they would continue to implement the diesel-electric ones they have in place now.
Martine Powers of the Globe wrote an in-depth take on the story. You can read it here. Are you a resident of Chelsea or East Boston? Would you utilize this new project were it to go into place? Where do you think would be a good place for a stop?
Some portions of the VFW Parkway and Providence Highway to and from Dedham are getting a facelift. There will be nightly closures for milling and paving starting Wednesday around 9:00 PM. The project will continue each night Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM until sometime during the week of May 19th. If there's bad weather, there could be an extension of the project. There could also be occasional midday work on the same stretch, so expect slight delays getting through.
Also, if you're in the Groveland area, MassDOT says construction crews are re-doing the approach roadways near the new drawbridge spanning the Merrimack River. Work crews will be doing all of their work during the overnight hours, between 8:00 PM and 5:30 AM each Sunday through Thursday until the middle of June. One-way alternating lanes may be put into place from time to time to expedite the work, so expect some backups in the area. Police will be on hand to direct traffic. Daytime work is already taking place during the middays Monday through Friday in the same spot.
You'll find slowdowns here...
Expressway/O'Neill Tunnel northbound
The right lane on the off-ramp to the Mass Pike / Airport (Exit 20) will be closed Thursday and Friday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Essex Street to the O'Neill Tunnel northbound will close Monday through Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Congress Street to the O'Neill Tunnel will close Monday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The off-ramp to Storrow Drive/North Station (Exit 26) will close Monday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. The off-ramp from the Sumner Tunnel to Storrow Drive will also close during the same time period.
The Cross Street ramp to the O'Neill Tunnel will close on Tuesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Atlantic Avenue to the O'Neill Tunnel will close Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Expressway/O'Neill Tunnel southbound
The ramp from Rutherford Avenue to the Lower Deck / Storrow Drive will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The right lane on the ramp from the Tobin Bridge inbound to the O'Neill Tunnel will be closed Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 Am.
The southbound carpool lane from Somerville to the Zakim Bridge will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Three left lanes will be closed from the start of the Lower Deck through the O'Neill Tunnel to the South Station / Mass Pike (Exit 20) ramps Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM. The two right lanes will be closed in the same time frame on Tuesday.
The Essex Street ramp to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will be closed Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from the Leverett Connector outbound to the Tobin Bridge will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike eastbound
The ramp from the South Boston Bypass Road to the Pike eastbound will close on Monday from 11:50 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from the Pike eastbound to 128 northbound at the Weston Tolls will close on Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The off-ramp to Copley Square and the Prudential Center will close on Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The HOV tunnel will be closed on Wednesday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike westbound
++ CLOSURE ++ at the Logan Airport access ramp on Wednesday from 11:50 PM to 5:00 AM. All traffic will be detoured through the airport to rejoin into the Ted Williams.
The off-ramp from the Ted Williams Tunnel to the Expressway will be closed Monday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The off-ramp from Purchase Street to the Pike west will be closed on Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The on-ramp from the Seaport District (Exit 25) will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Storrow Drive westbound: the Storrow Tunnel will be closed Monday through Friday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. Expect heavy delays and police detours.
Outside Greater Boston
Route 3 in both directions at Route 133, Tyngsboro: watch for bridge inspection crews on Thursday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 3 in both directions at the Lowell Connector: watch for bridge inspection crews on Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 3 in both directions between Route 129 and Treble Cove Road, Billerica: watch for bridge inspection crews on Thursday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 3 in both directions at Treble Cove Road, Billerica: watch for bridge inspection crews on Tuesday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 62 eastbound at Crosby Drive, Burlington: utility work takes up lanes Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
495 in both directions at 110/River Street, Haverhill: watch for bridge inspection crews on Saturday from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
495 in both directions at Route 125, Haverhill: watch for bridge inspection crews on Saturday from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Route 114 in both directions at Andover Street, Danvers: utility work closes lanes Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Route 133 at Magnolia Avenue, Gloucester: utility work closes lanes Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
128 northbound after Route 38, Woburn: road work will close lanes Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
128 in both directions from Route 20 to Winter Street, Waltham: watch for utility crews closing lanes Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
128 in both directions between Winn Street and Route 3, Burlington: watch for a lane shift in place due to ongoing work - expect delays.
128 southbound at Route 138 south, Canton: the off-ramp will close on Wednesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
128 southbound at the Braintree Split: the ramp to Route 3 will be closed Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
95 northbound at 128, Canton: the off-ramp to 128 south will close Tuesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
93 in both directions from Montvale Avenue to Route 129, Wilmington: road work closes lanes on Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
93 in both directions at the Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford: bridge inspection closes lanes on Saturday from 4:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
93 in both directions at Route 28 / Fellsway West, Medford: watch for bridge inspection crews Saturday from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
Route 24 northbound at 128, Randolph: the off-ramp to 128 north will be closed Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Route 24 in both directions south of 495, Taunton: bridge work closes lanes Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
The author is solely responsible for the content.