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Orange Line shutdown expected to cause ‘significant’ traffic delays in and around Boston

"It is evident that significant congestion will be felt throughout the region."

Gov. Charlie Baker and MBTA officials warned Monday that the upcoming 30-day Orange Line shutdown is likely to cause severe traffic congestion all throughout the city of Boston due to an influx of shuttle buses.

Whether you drive, bike, or even walk, MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said during a press conference, your commute will almost certainly be longer.

“To be clear, the shutdown will have substantial regional travel impacts,” Gulliver said. “It is evident that significant congestion will be felt throughout the region.”

Gulliver went as far as suggesting that drivers should avoid driving anywhere near downtown Boston during the shutdown.

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MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak similarly encouraged people to work from home during the shutdown, and for employers to be flexible about work-from-home policies.

On some stretches of road Gulliver said, roadway capacity will be reduced by half to prioritize shuttle bus service.

“We expect to see more traffic congestion on various highways, intersections, and routes…for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians as MassDOT and especially the city of Boston make roadway changes to accommodate these buses,” Baker said.

Additionally, Gulliver said, bicyclists and walkers should be aware that the shuttle buses are bigger than normal MBTA buses and have different blind spots and different turning curves.

About 100,000 people take the Orange Line every day post-pandemic, according to NBC 10 Boston.

MassDot modeled Boston highway congestion during the Orange Line shutdown. – MassDOT

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Last Friday, the MBTA released a 16-page guide for riders to help them plan for the Orange Line shutdown. Earlier this month, boston.com put out its own guide to the shutdown with information about alternative routes.

In addition to using the Orange Line replacement shuttle buses during the shutdown, commuters can also utilize free service with a Charlie Card in Commuter Rail Zones 1, 1A, and 2, or get a free 30-day Blue Bikes pass. Officials encouraged adopting both of these alternative commuting strategies Monday.

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During the shutdown, the shuttle buses will run from Oak Grove to Government Center and from Copley to Forest Hills. The State Street, Downtown Crossing, Chinatown, and Tufts Medical Center Orange Line stops will be closed.

Orange Line riders who use the shuttle buses will need to utilize the Green Line between Government Center and Copley stations.

The MBTA created a diagram of what service will look like on the Orange Line during the shutdown. – MassDOT

The Orange Line shutdown will begin Friday evening and continue until Sept. 19. Baker has said repeatedly that five years of maintenance work is expected to be completed during the shutdown.

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