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Mother nature thwarts construction again, and good news for Fairmount line riders

Posted by Nichole Davis  June 28, 2013 02:33 PM

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There's been word all week about the DOT closing down two popular ramps to the O'Neill Tunnel and Zakim Bridge northbound for work over the weekend. However, the wet weather has foiled the plans, and it looks like that won't be happening.

Michael Verseckes of the DOT says the work was going to be taking place on the ramps from Haymarket Square and the Sumner Tunnel. They were set to be closed at 8:00 PM tonight and 10:00 PM tomorrow night. There's been no word as to when the work will be rescheduled for, but of course, when I find out, I'll pass it on.

Keep in mind, though - there's more in the way of closures coming up in the next few days...

The southbound side of 93 is going to be completely closed through the city of Boston through the overnight hours on Tuesday, July 2. We've seen these closures in place before - it generally gives crews the time to access areas they might not normally be able to with active traffic.

The closure will stretch from Mystic Avenue in Somerville to Albany Street from just before midnight on Wednesday until 5:00 that morning. This will give the crews free reign on the Lower Deck, Zakim Bridge and O'Neill Tunnel. There's going to be detours set up along the surface streets, so if you were planning on accessing Storrow Drive, Leverett Circle, the Pike westbound, Airport tunnels and more, you'll have to follow those. Mass Ave will be the first accessible exit back on 93 southbound, as you'll be re-entering the highway at Albany Street.

Why are they closing the highway this time? Crews are repainting lanes (always a good thing to know where the lanes are, and probably hard to do with cars all over the place).
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Last weekend I posted about a reader's concerns about the seemingly-everlasting construction of the Alford Street Bridge. I've now received a notice from the DOT that you're not only going to have to deal with the usual delays getting through there - but southbound drivers won't be able to get through the area at all for the entire weekend.

Starting tonight at 7:00 (that's Friday), the underpass carrying Route 99 under Sullivan Square is going to be closed until 5:00 AM on Monday. Crews need this closure time in order to start putting the approaches in to the new bridge. As we talked about last week, the DOT is hoping to have southbound traffic using the new span by the beginning of next month (or, well, really, next week).

Northbound traffic's not going to be affected by this but there will be detours set up on surface streets through Sullivan Square if you're trying to get over to Rutherford Ave. The DOT says there's also going to be police directing traffic through the weekend, so with any luck, that will help ... but expect to be sitting for some time if you have to go through that area.
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Sinkholes are not exactly something that's common here, but apparently Somerville residents have one to brag about now.

I was perusing my Facebook feed today when I noticed a very disconcerting shared post by a friend that originated from the Facebook group Union Square Main Streets. It was this video that, I'm assuming, will make you utter "What the...?" as I did while watching. A trash truck met an unfortunate fate inside a sinkhole outside a Dunkin Donuts off of Prospect Street. Sources say the truck possibly fell onto a gas line when the road gave way - it looks like it has since been plucked out, but I would hate to be whoever was behind the wheel when that happened.

Oh, and my favorite tidbit from the Facebook comments comes from a Eric Bailey from Medford, who writes: "It breaks my heart that this didn't happen in front of a 7-11, robbing us all of the perfect opportunity to make Big Gulp jokes."
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In case you missed it...

Mattapan and Dorchester residents are about to get another option for transportation into and out of the downtown. Starting next week, two stations on the revamped 9-mile-long Fairmount commuter rail line will be opening up - one near the South Bay shopping center (that's the Newmarket station) and another at Four Corners / Geneva Avenue.

The Fairmount line has been neglected for many years - and the T has now invested $200 million to spruce up worn-out stations, add four new stops, upgrade tracks and equipment, as well as provide more frequent service. Pretty cool deal.

While there's all these new improvements in place, another problem exists: residents along the line often can't afford to pay the hefty commuter rail prices just to go a few miles. Check out this example from a new WBUR report:

"But affordability has been a big issue for many, including Ana Rodriguez who lives in Dorchester and commutes to Hyde Park. Currently, passengers have to pay commuter rail fares, which, depending how far you travel, can cost as much as $6 on the line.

“If I take the Fairmount line to work it would only take me four minutes, but it would cost me $5.50,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no way that I can afford to do this on a regular basis. Therefore, I’m forced to commute for like an hour by taking two buses. And I only have to pay $1.50.”"

So, the MBTA has decided to change that by reducing fares for residents - that is, depending on where you get on. If you decide to ride the line end to end, you'll have to fork over the usual $6 fare - but if you get on from Fairmount to South Station, the fare will only be $2 for one way. Riders will have to purchase a LinkPass to take advantage of the new program, because even though the pricing will be that of subway standards, the commuter rail line is not programmed to read CharlieCards. Much more from the Dorchester Reporter on the new fare layout here.

If you'd like a copy of the new schedule for the Fairmount Line, click here. For the rest of the WBUR report by Delores Handy click here.

Do you think it's fair to adjust the fares on the Fairmount commuter rail line so they meet subway standards, when the rest of the commuter rail lines don't get that luxury? Will you use the Fairmount line more often now that the repairs and new stations are in place? Let me know in the comments.

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MBTA Matters

Red Line riders: there's more busing in place for the weekend the weekend - but this time, it's in a stretch that affects everyone getting to both Ashmont and Braintree. You'll find yourself stuck on buses from Broadway to JFK/UMass from the start of service Saturday until the end of service Sunday. This is, once again, due to the Columbia Junction Project. Expect significant delays in both directions.

Remember that Red Line riders will be stuck with busing in Cambridge and Downtown Boston in August due to the Longfellow Bridge project. Busing will run from Park Street to Kendall Square on Saturday August 10th and Sunday the 11th, as well as the 24th and 25th. Normal weekday service will remain in place for now.

Blue Line riders - we've seen busing in place between Wonderland and Beachmont several days this week due to the State Road project. That's going to be the case again from 9:00 PM this Sunday until the end of service. Don't forget that busing is also in place for those trying to access the Orient Heights station. You can exit at Suffolk Downs and catch the shuttle bus that's running to and from Orient Heights.

Orange Line riders: remember that busing will start back up again on August 4th between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square due to the Assembly Square project.

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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