The Tobin Bridge is set to receive surface and structural improvements starting April 1 and continuing through 2021. At the same time, work is planned on the “Chelsea Curves” section of Route 1.
Cue the traffic.
Lane closures are thought to cause “significant traffic impacts” during the work, according to Department of Transportation officials. During “afternoon peak travel times,” this could mean traffic backed up onto I-93 ramps on Leverett Connector and to Rutherford Avenue on the northbound side of Route 1, traffic models from DOT show, according to a news release. On Route 1’s southbound side, this could mean traffic back to Salem’s Route 60 rotary and could at times be backed up to Salem Street.
“If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years,” the release said. “This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.”
— Mass. Transportation (@MassDOT) March 14, 2019
When work begins on April 1, two of the three lanes will be open during the day on the northbound side of the bridge, officials said. Overnight, one of the three lanes will be open.
On May 1, lane closures will begin for the Chelsea Curves section of the highway — two of the three northbound and southbound lanes are planned to be open during the day; this will drop to one lane on each side overnight.
The bridge was originally built in the mid-20th century and there hasn’t been rehabilitative work since the 1970s, according to Jonathan Gulliver, the department’s highway administrator. He noted that the work is being done to “ensure [the bridge’s] continued use and reliability.” He urged commuters to consider public transportation and to plan for extra travel time.
“During construction, free fares are being offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and additional Blue Line train capacity is being added,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a prepared statement. These include Chelsea, Eastern Avenue, Box District, and Bellingham Square, according to the release. “In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail.” He added that some buses could be delayed and stressed that riders should consider these alternative options.
Other options include using the Haverhill and Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail lines. The Haverhill line usually has parking at the Haverhill and Bradford stations while Salem, Lynn, and Newburyport stations usually have parking along that line.