By John Lynds
Following pressure from East Boston elected officials and the Boston Transportation Department, MassDOT officials are returning to Eastie tonight (Wednesday, August 30) at East Boston High School at 6:30 p.m. to provide information on the design of the tunnel entrance.
“MassDOT will discuss the design and construction process as well as construction impacts such as traffic and other project related issues,” said MassDOT’s Zach Ramsfelder. “This meeting will ensure that users of the Sumner Tunnel and neighboring communities are fully informed about the project’s design and construction.”
Since MassDOT reopened the toll plaza in May after taking down the toll booths as part of the agency’s All Electronic Tolling (AET) project, Eastie resident have endured a traffic nightmare. The road reconfigurations have led to long queues entering the tunnel and backups that extend out onto neighborhood streets.
While traffic into the tunnel usually tappers off once school ends in the summer months, it seemed not to be the case this summer. Traffic into the tunnel and the traffic that spilled out onto neighborhood streets lingered throughout July and August.
“I just hope they come and provide the community with a concrete plan and solutions to the gridlock before we see an uptick in vehicular traffic when school starts on September 7,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “I want to see a plan. I don’t want excuses. I don’t want data. I want to know how they are going to solve the traffic that was created by this project.”
Madaro went on to add that he has been in regular contact with MassDOT and BTD officials throughout the project and has been briefed each time a tweak to the traffic configuration has been made.
“It’s obvious that since May MassDOT has tried different things and while they seem to work for a bit we are quickly back to square one a few days later in terms of gridlock,” said Madaro. “Officials have had four months to observe the traffic flow into the tunnel. I think that is plenty of time to see what is working and what is not working and adjustments that solve this traffic nightmare for East Boston residents should have already been finalized. As residents we are the ones that have to live with this on a daily basis and that is unacceptable. I will accept nothing short of a plan that gets traffic moving again on our neighborhood streets before the start of the school year.”