Last Monday’s gridlock due to an accident in the Sumner Tunnel and subsequent traffic due to a truck rollover south of the Tobin Bridge last Friday has elected officials and residents agreeing that something needs to be done soon because the traffic is causing a public safety hazard.
“Last week Eastie experienced two major traffic backups during the morning commute,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “A traffic accident in the Sumner Tunnel last Monday and an overturned truck on the Tobin Bridge Friday led to hours of gridlock and delays. Frequent incidents like these have left me extremely frustrated, but also determined to find a solution.”
Madaro said these issues are evidence of the fragility of the region’s transportation infrastructure.
“One accident cripples an entire system for hours, affecting thousands of commuters and residents and creating a public safety hazard,” said Madaro. “MassDOT must work to address these problems. We need a stronger system designed to handle current commuter levels, and one that seeks to decrease congestion by emphasizing multiple modes of transportation, such as bus lanes, improved Blue Line service, and water transportation.”
Madaro said he has introduced legislation with Sen. Joe Boncore to provide more transportation funding, reduce the recent surge of ride-hailing congestion, and encourage alternative means of transportation.
“I am committed to continuing to work on this until East Boston and our neighbors have the solutions we need,” he said.
However, longtime Eastie residents like Nicole DaSilva, who went live on Facebook documenting the traffic on her street, said the thought of an emergency and the inability for emergency vehicles to get around makes her very scared.
DaSilva video taped the traffic on Saratoga Street that stretched block after block. Her street was basically a parking lot. She mentioned how right across the street from her home in the 1980s three houses went up in flames and wondered how the fire department would get to a similar emergency during the morning commute.
During her Facebook live feed DaSilva showed how it would be virtually impossible for cars that were stuck in the traffic to move over for emergency vehicles. Given the state of traffic in Eastie during the morning commute and the fact Saratoga Street is one lane with resident parking on both sides DaSilva argued that a fire on any stretch of her street would be a disaster.
“Residents can’t get off of streets like Saratoga, Brooks, and London in the event of an emergency,” said DaSilva. “We’ve seen how quickly fires can destroy homes and lives. How do we expect Boston Fire to get where they need to be if they cannot get down a street? If someone is sick and in need of immediate emergency services, how does an ambulance get to where they need to be? These aren’t highways. These are narrow streets, with houses that are connected. Our seniors, babies, and people with disabilities are at even greater risk.”
DaSilva added, “Streets like Saratoga from Prescott down to Marion are not wide enough for cars to pull over to let first responders go by and have been at a complete standstill far too many times recently.”
DaSilva said traffic like the kind the neighborhood experienced last Monday and Friday put Eastie families and neighbors at great risk in the event that a fire, illness, or other dangerous event happen to occur at the same time as the gridlock.
“We often discuss what we should do to slow drivers down from speeding, to increase the number of crosswalks, and to keep pedestrians and bikers safe,” she said. “We need a plan in place to protect us when our streets become a standstill before something devastating happens.
Boston Police use their resources to help as much as they can and I truly appreciate them, but they can only do so much.”