Preparing for closure of the Callahan Tunnel

Drivers emerging from the Ted Williams Tunnel on their way to Logan Airport must think fast to determine which lane to get into, the left for departures or right for arrivals.
Drivers emerging from the Ted Williams Tunnel on their way to Logan Airport must think fast to determine which lane to get into, the left for departures or right for arrivals.
The Boston Globe

Forget the number of days left in the holiday shopping season. This year, there’s only one countdown that matters: 27 days until the closure of the Callahan Tunnel.

In preparation for that apocalyptic event, transportation officials are already preparing the traffic relief valves. Starting Sunday, the Martin A. Coughlin Bypass Road in East Boston, a thoroughfare previously open to only to commercial vehicles, will be available to all traffic.

If you are not familiar with it, the Coughlin Bypass Road debuted last year as a means to reduce traffic congestion in Day Square. The two-lane road, which runs about a half-mile, starts on Chelsea Street, just south of the intersection with Curtis Street, and continues southwest, tracing a parallel corridor between Route 1A and Bremen Street. At its southern terminus, the road ducks underneath 1A and deposits drivers at the intersection of Lovell and Frankfort streets, an easy access point to Logan International Airport.

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This route — usually only used by taxis, airport vehicles, MBTA buses, and Massport employee shuttles — will be open to the public until March, when the Callahan is expected to be back open for business. It will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 27.

“With the impending closure of the Callahan Tunnel, opening this road gives everyone needing to get to the airport another optional route,” said Massport chief executive Thomas P. Glynn.

Looking for better guidance at Logan Airport entry road

In other airport-related news, Massport officials may be taking a second look at a confusing entrance into Logan.

I relay a message sent by a colleague who described a familiar phenomenon that comes up on the drive to Logan Airport via the Ted Williams Tunnel.

“You come around the bend,” he wrote, “and you are all of a sudden, without ANY advance warning signs, faced with getting into left lane for departures and right lane for arrivals. The result of which has been — for years now — lots of cars swerving left or right at the last second. I’ve never seen an accident, but some close calls. I’ll bet there have been plenty of fender-benders.

“The obvious solution to this,” my colleague wrote, “is a large sign a few hundred yards back that says ‘DEPARTURES, LEFT LANE’ and ‘ARRIVALS AND PARKING RIGHT LANE.’ I know the correct lane now because I memorized it.”

It’s a good point, airport entrances often elicit a wallop of frantic split-second decisions — and perhaps nowhere is worse than the Ted Williams Tunnel entrance.

There are, in fact, guideposts that precede the arrivals-departures sign. However, all those signs indicate which airline resides in which concourse. Though that information is important, the choice to move into the left lane for departures and the right lane for arrivals is the decision that comes first in the layout of the airport entrance.

And soon, the Callahan Tunnel renovations will funnel a heretofore unseen amount of traffic through the Ted Williams Tunnel. Many motorists who for years have depended on the Callahan Tunnel for their Logan Airport needs may encounter the Ted Williams Tunnel airport route for the first time in a long time — or ever.

Richard Walsh, spokesman for Massport, acknowledged that it was a bewildering point for drivers.

“Because of the amount of information and the relatively short roadway, drivers unfamiliar with the airport roadway can be confused,” Walsh said.

He promised that the sign issue will be an item for discussion at the next meeting between Massport and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.