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Traffic technology

Behind the screens of the VMS, and downtown detours

Posted by Nichole Davis August 7, 2013 01:10 AM

There's more and more of those VMS boards popping up on area highways - VMS meaning "Variable Message Signs":


Image credit: Rhode Island Department of Transportation

My pal Emil wrote to me recently with an inquiry about the content on these boards:

"I remember a while ago, there was a big stink about "GO SOX" and "GO PATS" showing up on VMS boards on the Pike, and how the boards should only be used to motorist info. Now, I'm seeing them with messages reminding me to renew my registration, and more recently, telling me that fireworks are illegal, and I'm subject to arrest or a fine. A couple of years ago, when they were having that beetle problem in Worcester, they said we shouldn't move firewood. If they're going to put these things up, then I'm OK with "GO BRUINS!" or other such messages.

I kind of question ones like "OUI: Over the limit, under arrest/Use designated driver". I don't think I know anyone who *doesn't* know that driving under the influence is a crime, and I honestly don't think that seeing that message on the highway will make someone think "I should get Charlie to drive, so I can get plastered!" The same goes for the warnings about texting and driving. Most reasonable people know they shouldn't be doing that, regardless of whether they still do it anyway.

Anyway, would you be interested in quizzing your contacts at MassDOT about what is and isn't appropriate for messages on VMS boards, and why I'm seeing more messages that aren't related to motorist info?"


A guide to getting around for a fantastic Fourth

Posted by Nichole Davis July 3, 2013 02:00 PM

Ah, welcome to one of the busiest travel days of the year - the day before July 4th.

Many would think, "Why is the day before the holiday busiest?" Lots of people are taking off and they want to beat the traffic - but, of course, they're going to be the traffic themselves, as everyone is going at the same time. There won't be as many people this year, however. The International Business Times reports that, according to AAA, only 40.8 million people will be hopping in their cars and heading out of town (to a destination at least 50 miles away). Now, you might wonder, why is that an "only"? That number's down at least one percent from this past year for a variety of reasons - money and time, namely.

Either way, it's going to feel like all 40 million are on the road with you at once for the next few days at times. Expect gridlock through this afternoon on all of your major highways heading out of the city to the usual vacation spots.


Chelsea Street bridge setbacks explained, and another bus bites the dust

Posted by Nichole Davis June 8, 2013 12:14 PM

Stephen, a reader of the blog, wrote in to me recently. He said, in part:

"... I saw that the Mass DOT said the Chelsea Street bridge will be closed weeknights until July 1st. While this may not seem to be a big thing it is for the thousand of us that work at Logan Airport. The employee garage sits just across from this bridge and when the bridge is closed it takes a 10 minute bus ride and turns it into a 20 to 30 minute bus ride and that’s each way.

The bridge was completed (supposedly) last May at I believe the cost of over $200 million dollars to the taxpayers and there has hardly been a week in this past year that it hasn’t been closed at night for something. Do you think you could find out why this bridge never seems to be working properly and when it will finally be open and functioning as designed and paid for with our money?"


The Cape escape kickoff, and a furtherance of the Fitchburg line

Posted by Nichole Davis May 26, 2013 10:26 AM

While those who care more about the weather for Memorial Day weekend wrung their hands and were worried about busted forecasts, we on the traffic side of things were sure of one thing: traffic was going to be a mess. And it was.


Lagging through Leverett Circle, and an addendum of apps

Posted by Nichole Davis February 18, 2013 03:57 PM

If you're a frequent commuter through Leverett Circle downtown, you might have noticed that the ride has been a bit more gridlocked lately -- and not just during the rush hour. What's holding everyone up is a problem in the tunnel that carries the ramp from Leverett Circle to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound.


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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