Commuting from the North Shore is a Joke

The Tobin Bridge during repair work in 2013. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo )
The Tobin Bridge during repair work in 2013. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo )

The planning gods have a cruel sense of humor, and for East Boston, Chelsea and Revere commuters, the joke’s on us.

Getting from downtown to the North Shore gets a little tougher Sunday night, when lane closures return to the Tobin Bridge. Combine those bridge restrictions to continuing night work on the Callahan Tunnel and a completely closed Government Center station, and all of a sudden it’s a major chore to get three miles south.

For the third year in a row, crews on the Tobin are repairing, sandblasting and repainting the 66-year-old structure. The Callahan was closed from late December to mid-March for a complete overhaul. Now it’s open during the day but closed nights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. as work continues. Government Center closed March 22 for a complete gut and rebuild. The station’s out of commission for two years.


We’re not ungrateful, mind you. Everyone wants the work done. In general, bridges do best when their support structures aren’t completely rusted out. The Callahan goes under Boston Harbor, so, yeah, please fix the air exchange system so we can breathe down there. And anyone’s who’s squeezed between the escalators and oncoming Green Line trolleys at Government Center will be glad once the reconfigured station opens.

When it’s all done, it’s going to be great. In the meantime, it’s pretty rough, especially for anyone with an early-morning or late-night work shift.

Imagine you’re a nurse living in Revere, finishing the evening shift at Mass General. To get home, you either walk further to State Street or change trains twice to take the Blue Line. There are buses, but they’ll have to slog through Tobin traffic.

You could drive, which adds parking expenses to your commute, but you still can’t take the Callahan home. So it’s either the choked Tobin or a trip across town to the Williams Tunnel.

It’s not impossible, but it’s a hassle. A better-coordinated time table for this work could have made things a little easier for folks living on the wrong side of the Mystic River.


If those same planning gods could just give us our casino as a reward for our patience, that’d be great. Although Mohegan Sun won’t solve our short-term commuting problems, either. If Suffolk Downs wins its casino bid, North Shore drivers can expect even more work along Routes 1, 1A and 16, all major thoroughfares leading to the city. At least we’d have booze in plastic cups and cheap buffet food as solace.

Scalese can be reached at and via Twitter @BertoScalese.

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