Group predicts Boston traffic will get much worse by 2030

As Boston’s population increases, the city’s roads and highways will be put to the test.
As Boston’s population increases, the city’s roads and highways will be put to the test. –CJ GUNTHER / EPA

Commuting during Boston’s rush hour is a well-documented headache for many. But according to a new report, rush hour in the Greater Boston region is poised to get much worse as the population grows.

In a report released Tuesday, the business group A Better City anticipates Greater Boston will experience a population boom over the next decade and a half that will put additional strain on the region’s infrastructure, including its roadways.

A Better City predicts the Greater Boston population will increase by 430,000 people, or 10.5 percent, by 2030.

The added population will mean about 80,000 more cars, trucks and tractor-trailers on Greater Boston’s roadways by 2030, an increase of 5 percent.

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The traffic situation is already grim, according to the report.

As commuters already know, traffic speeds are significantly slower during morning and evening rush hours. According to A Better City’s findings, traffic on the Mass. Pike currently slows to an average speed of 20.5 mph in the eastbound lanes and 18.3 mph in the westbound lanes during morning commutes. In the evenings, average speeds are reduced to 15.6 mph for eastbound travelers and 23.1 mph in the westbound lanes.

The slowest speeds reported during heavy commuting times were on Route US-3 northbound, where commuters travel at an estimated 10.3 mph during morning commutes.

The fastest average speeds of 23.1 mph reported were on the Mass. Pike westbound lane and on I-93 northbound during evening commutes.

As the population grows and more people commute on Greater Boston roadways, these commute times are expected to get worse.

From The Boston Globe:

“It was kind of like a surgeon coming in, saying ‘I’m sorry, you thought your arteries were clogged. They’re actually nonfunctioning,’’’ said Richard Dimino, chief executive of A Better City. “If we’re not successful in moving these people to transit, the implications are nightmarish.’’

But the added population boost will also impact Greater Boston’s public transportation system. The report anticipates the MBTA will have to accommodate an additional 14,000 subway riders, 11,000 bus and streetcar riders, and 1,100 commuter rail riders by 2030.

In addition to the strain placed on Greater Boston roadways and public transit networks, the report also predicts the added population will tax the region’s electrical, gas and waste management systems.

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