It may have been April Fool’s Day on Monday, but it was no joke when it comes to what was going on with the traffic and the Tobin Bridge Reconstruction Project! Commuters need to know what to expect each morning and evening as they head to and from work. Here is what you need to know.
Why is the Tobin Under Construction?
The iconic Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge on U.S. Route 1 has been in need of repair work for some time now. The bridge was deemed structurally deficient and needs: resurfacing, steel repairs, an extension of a parking area, and repaving. Major repair work has not been completed on this bridge since the 1970s, so it is long overdue.
MassDOT has carefully planned the repairs and informed businesses and commuters of how the repair work could impact their drive times as well as business traffic for the local companies. Specific dates and hours of expected completion of each step of the project can be found on the Mass.gov page. The two-year project is expected to be completed by 2021 and will be an active work area 24/7 until completion.
What to Expect if you Commute
First and foremost, expect that in the first few days of the project (while drivers adjust to the lane closures), traffic will be heaviest and travel times will be greatly increased. The first stage of the project will begin on the northbound section of the Tobin Bridge. Lane restrictions will be in place. In the overnight hours, lanes will be reduced from three lanes down to one. During the morning and afternoon commutes, lane closures will be only on one of the three lanes of the lower deck. By May, the Route 1 travel lanes in the area of the Chelsea curve will also be restricted. Two of the three lanes will be closed both northbound and southbound during the overnight hours and one of the three lanes will be open during highest daytime traffic.
What Can I Do to Avoid Backups?
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has offered some suggestions to avoid these potential traffic jams over the next two years. Commuters will be offered free fares in the inbound direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. Additional MBTA Blue Lines will be put on and will be filled to capacity for the duration of the project as well.
For individual commuters, the DOT recommends making some adjustments of their own. For example, if you are able to work remotely or shift your office hours, please do so in order to avoid the highest congestion hours. In addition, make use of traffic apps like Google Maps or Waze that can help you find the fastest route to and from work on a daily basis. Regularly check the mass.gov page to find out what stage the construction is at and how it will impact your commute.
How are you handling the changes in traffic? Let us know in the comments. Remember, as always, stay safe out there.