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A breakdown of horrendous holiday traffic, and a brewing bridge closure

Posted by Nichole Davis  July 10, 2013 06:00 PM

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A quick note re: Cape Cod traffic this past weekend... honestly, in the past three years that I've been working as a traffic reporter here in the Boston area, I've never seen it quite this bad over the July 4th weekend. Of course, I've had plenty of people ask why it was so...

The major thing to remember is that the July 4th weekend is always tough for travel. It ranks up there as one of the top five worst travel times of the year. No matter what time you leave, which direction you're going, it's still going to be tough.

This year, the holiday being a Thursday didn't help, because many just took it upon themselves to take off for a four day vacation. While that's always fun to do, you not only had the extra traffic on-Cape (and in Maine along the coast, and in New Hampshire's Lakes Region), but combine that with vacationers that have been deciding to get away since the kids have left school for the summer... it's a recipe for traffic disaster.

A fatal hit and run accident took place at the westbound base of the Sagamore on July 4th, adding to the horrendous backups already in place. Also, Saturday was incredibly tough because many week-long rentals on-Cape run Saturday to Saturday, so not only did you have people heading on-Cape to get to their rentals, but a whole week's worth of people were heading home ... Sunday, well, that was a mess because everyone who had crammed on-Cape for the past five days all decided to leave at once - and everyone who didn't tried to on Monday morning, only to find it still a mess. Throw in a few crashes, some disabled vehicles due to the excessive heat, and... there you go.

Getting to the Cape doesn't have to be this tough. Check out this post of mine from earlier this year that outlines alternate forms of transport to get on-Cape, including buses, ferries, and trains.

Did you sit in the Cape mess? Have you considered modifying your plans if you intend to do this next year? Do you think you'll find an alternate form of transportation?
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We've talked about this before on the blog, but now it's time to start making your plans for your commute if it takes you over the Longfellow Bridge...

Starting on Saturday, July 20th, DOT crews are going to start an approximately one year and two months-long construction project on that bridge. During this construction period, you're going to be significantly put out if you're a commuter. Not only will the bridge be shut down Cambridge-bound to all vehicle traffic, but the Red Line will be using shuttle buses in both directions between Kendall and Park Street at least 25 times (generally on weekends) until the work wraps up in September of 2014. Oof. If you normally bike or walk over the bridge, though, you shouldn't have any problems.

You may have already seen crews out there doing work to prepare for the traffic shifts - re-paving, working on traffic signals, and modifying sidewalks - they've been doing that since April. You'll start to see signs going up on the Pike and 93, as well as around the downtown area, informing you of the detour in place.

So how are you supposed to get between the cities while this is going on? Well, Boston-bound traffic coming in from Cambridge will still be using the bridge, but it'll be down to one lane using the now-Cambridge-bound lanes. If you're planning on driving to Cambridge, you'll be directed to Leverett Circle from Charles Circle, then put on the O'Brien Highway to Land Boulevard, where you can then access Memorial Drive and other areas of Cambridge.

This whole project is being funded by the Accelerated Bridge Program that's been responsible for repair of other major bridges across the state, such as the Whittier Bridge in Amesbury, Western Avenue and North Harvard Street Bridges in Cambridge, and the General Edwards Drawbridge that carries 1A through Lynn and Revere. The DOT says the upgrade to the bridge will not only secure it structurally and bring it up to code, but it'll also make it safer and easier to navigate.

Do you normally use the Longfellow Bridge? How do you plan to change your commute, or will you just sit through the detours?
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Should your plans take you into and out of Attleboro tomorrow night, consider this: the DOT is going to put a detour in place from 295 north to 95 north. (That's the Exit 2A ramp, by the way.) They're doing some paving work on the ramp, and in order to make sure it's done as quickly as possible, crews will just be shutting the whole thing down. Expect the closure to be in place from 8:00 PM Friday to 8:00 AM Saturday.

How are you going to get around this? Take the ramp to 95 southbound to Exit 3A (Route 123). Get on the eastbound side and then just take the ramp to 95 northbound from there. It's not exactly direct but it'll do the job. If you're not exactly sure how to get around there, officers will be out in place to direct you.

If storms are moving through or if there's downpours, the DOT says the work will be cancelled - so keep an eye on the sky.
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If you're a Providence line rider on the commuter rail, listen up - each Friday you'll be seeing some changes in the schedule due to a new construction project by Amtrak. This will be the case for all Fridays between this Friday, the 12th, and August 9th.

The rail company is replacing railroad ties throughout New England - and some of those routes they're working on are also shared by MBCR, the commuter rail system for the MBTA. Now, the only stations that are affected by this are Providence, Wickford Junction and the TF Green Airport. Here's what the schedule changes will look like for those Fridays:

The 5:45 am train from Providence to Wickford Junction (#8803) won't stop at TF Green. The 4:08 pm train from Boston to Wickford Junction (#813) will end service at TF Green, but you can catch a bus to Wickford Junction. This will also be the case with the 5:00 pm (#817) out of Boston, along with the 5:40 pm train (#819). The 6:55 pm and 7:45 pm inbound trains from Wickford Junction won't be running but there will be shuttle buses.
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In case you missed it:
Any subway rider knows that there's "those people" who you inevitably will eventually come across on the train. Gawker, while based in New York and is writing this based on their subway system, has put together a list of the "Ten Worst People on the Subway". I, for one, think this carries across all systems. Some examples include "The people standing in front of the door who don't move when the doors open" and "The people who act like they're the only ones who are going to get off at a major stop", among others. I'm glad "The people who eat cooked food" made it, as it's just not fair to be stuck on a packed train during afternoon rush with someone who decides to eat fish tacos... (NSFW: language.)

Have you ever wondered what actually resides under the Zakim Bridge and Leverett Connector? Maybe where those paths that run near Rutherford Avenue go to? UniversalHub's Adam Gaffin took a look-see and came up with a pretty cool photo essay about a burgeoning place many residents may not even know exists. Be sure to check out the comments, too, for more photos.
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MBTA Matters

Red Line riders are going to be stuck on buses again this weekend - but it's not for the usual reasons! This time, crews are working on another detail called the Clayton Street Bridge Project. If you're planning on travelling between the JFK/UMass station and Ashmont, you'll be on a shuttle bus from the start of service Saturday until the end of service Sunday.

Also, tonight on the Orange Line - you'll be back on buses between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square for, you guessed it - Assembly Square station work. This will start up around 9:00 and last until the end of service.

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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