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Surprising no one, traffic woes plague drivers navigating the Sumner Tunnel closure

"Engineers collected data and observations of traffic conditions while the tunnel was closed, and we will be making some minor adjustments."

The inbound entrance of the Sumner Tunnel in East Boston on June 10, 2022. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe
Tunnel Closures:

The Sumner Tunnel was closed this weekend, the first closure in a series of 36 scheduled as crews restore the nearly century-old tunnel.

Not unexpectedly, the closure resulted in hardship for travelers and for delivery businesses in the surrounding area.

Many taxi and rideshare drivers, like Lyft and Uber, decided to avoid the airport completely, leading to a shortage, according to Boston 25.

When there aren’t enough available, Massport institutes “double loading” in taxis or cars for people going to the same area. To help with this issue, riders can take the Blue Line, ferry or free Silver Line to the airport. There’s also Logan Express or private bus services.

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The tunnel work has also wreaked havoc on nearby food delivery businesses, such as Spinelli’s Ravioli and Pastry, according to WHDH

“Most of our customers are within 45 minutes from here, and so those travel times tripled. You know, doubled and tripled in terms of going out and coming back,” Celeste Ribeiro Hewit, the business’s operations specialist, told the news station. “We service all of Eastern Massachusetts and New England. And so, naturally, Sumner Tunnel is a big amenity for us.”

Work on the tunnel wrapped up just before 4 a.m. Monday morning, according to Kristen Pennucci, a spokesperson for MassDOT.

“Engineers collected data and observations of traffic conditions while the tunnel was closed, and we will be making some minor adjustments to our traffic management plan going forward,” she said in a statement.

“Although our evaluation is not complete, it is expected that the timing on a number of signals will be adjusted, and signage added to help keep traffic flowing as efficiently as possible,” the statement read.

Plans to close the tunnel included input from municipal leaders, first responders and hospitals, and neighborhood organizations, as well as the MBTA and Massport, Pennucci said.

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“MassDOT will monitor the effects of the closure as well as the resultant mitigating measures and ensure issues such as noise, vibrations, and impacts to mobility are minimized to the best extent possible,” she said in her statement.

Of course, things could be worse; the tunnel could be closed seven days a week — which is exactly what will happen when the restoration moves into its next phase, scheduled for May of 2023.

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