By Nichole Davis
The 52 year old Callahan Tunnel, which takes you out of Downtown Boston to Logan Airport and points on the North Shore via 1A, is going to be shutting down completely for several weeks. That's starting tonight at 11:00 PM. Now, we're not expecting it to be that big of a deal during the holiday week, but when volume picks up after the New Year, commute times (especially during the afternoon) could get really difficult.
As you also may have noticed, there's not just a few, but many detours being set up. The DOT's also been pushing this message pretty hard. I met recently with representatives from the DOT, including spokeswoman Sara Lavoie and State Traffic Engineer Neil Boudreau. They told me they're really trying to plan ahead for this closure, and that's why they've taken the time to set up so many detours -- including ones people might not have originally thought about. The DOT's been reaching out across the media, but the pair also told me they're utilizing different outlets, such as tearoffs on Logan Express buses and at the airport car rental centers.
Let's have a look at what your detour options are for the duration of the closure.
Keep in mind that you do have another tunnel option to get out to East Boston - the Ted Williams, of course, which isn't going to be shut down during this work. However, we've found that it's getting consistently busier, especially in afternoon drive -- sometimes it'll be jammed up end to end for hours. The thousands of cars that utilize the Callahan per day need to go somewhere, and we can absolutely determine that many of them will use the Ted Williams, which will just add to the gridlock already in place.
If you're coming from the downtown of Boston and want to take the Ted Williams, there's not exactly a direct route. You'll want to take the Expressway southbound to Exit 18 (Mass Ave), and then turn left at the end of the ramp onto the Bypass Road. Follow that road for just over a mile to the Mass Pike east on-ramp.
There's another way to get to the Ted Williams, too, if you're coming from the Theater District or South Station (near Kneeland Street). Get on the Kneeland Street ramp to 93 South and 90 West. Stay in the far left lane and follow the signs for the Express lane to the Airport. That will merge you in with the Ted Williams after just about half a mile.
The HOV lane to the airport will be open during the Callahan's closure -- and everyone will be able to use it. To access it from downtown or the South End, make your way to Albany Street and then enter Frontage Road northbound. Turn left under the highway and stay on Frontage Road north. Follow signs to the HOV Lane.
Coming in from western areas of Greater Boston (Brighton, Watertown, Newton, etc), you might be considering avoiding the Ted Williams, simply because of all the extra traffic. You can jump on Storrow Drive inbound to the Expressway southbound, get off at Mass Ave and take the aforementioned Bypass Road detour. The DOT also recommends taking Storrow to Leverett Circle, getting on Route 1 northbound and then getting off at Route 16 east. You can follow that for just over a mile to Bell Circle. Take 1A south to the airport -- you'll see it after just about 3 miles. Get off 1A at Curtis Street for access to East Boston. (By the way -- the DOT has informed me they've widened the ramp at Curtis Street, so it will be better able to handle the heavy traffic they've been expecting.)
Now, there's been detours published for as far out as Routes 2 and 3, as well as the 128 belt. Chances are that, if you're trying to get to the airport or East Boston from that far out, the Callahan wouldn't be your first choice anyway. But, in case it is, here's what the DOT recommends...
Coming from north of town on 3, 93 or 128, the DOT says you should get off 93 south at Route 16 east (Exit 31). Follow that for just about 6 miles to the Bell Circle Rotary, where you can then continue with the detour above. If you are planning to come in from Route 2, pick up Route 16 east at the Alewife rotary and just follow that straight to Bell Circle, where you'll then follow that prior detour that takes you down 1A. From west of 128, the DOT recommends you just take the Mass Pike and stick with it out to the Airport.
If you're thinking about taking public transit to try to avoid the ballyhoo that these detours and delays will cause, there's some good news for Blue Line riders. The MBTA will be keeping Bowdoin Station open later than normal -- in fact, it will be open seven days a week now during normal operating hours, as opposed to only staying open five days a week like it does now. An extra Blue Line train will also be added to normal service during the evening rush. Also, the Silver Line will be running service to and from the airport at peak consistently through the day.
For the curious: The DOT has published the schedule of what they'll be working on. The first week of work will consist of demolishing the curb near each approach of the tunnel, and they'll also be milling pavement. The next week crews will start to demolish the concrete deck and continue working on taking apart the concrete curb inside the tunnel. I'll keep on top of what they're working on and try to pass it along as I can.
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