East Boston residents are still recovering from the traffic nightmares caused by the ill conceived reconfiguration of the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza when MassDOT switched to All Electronic Tolling (AET).
Now, MassDOT is planning an ambitious restoration project for the decaying Sumner Tunnel.
According to MassDOT, beginning in 2022 the tunnel that leads from Eastie to the North End will undergo a full restoration.
It’s no secret the tunnel has seen its better days. Crumbling concrete, missing wall and ceiling panels, broken lights and pot holes make for an interesting trip into Downtown to say the least.
However, MassDOT will host two community meetings next week to discuss the upcoming project. The meetings will be held on Tuesday, April 27 at 6 p.m. and Thursday, April 29 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held on Zoom. The first meeting’s Zoom ID will be 889 2113 5782 and the passcode will be 860159. The second meeting’s Zoom ID will be 862 2389 6416 and the passcode will be 765313.
“The purpose of these upcoming meetings is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the project,” said MassDOT in a statement. “All views and comments made at the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.”
MassDOT has already warned that the “Sumner Tunnel Centennial Project” will create significant impacts to the community and commuters during construction.
“During the meetings, MassDOT will review the construction activities and schedule, tunnel closures, traffic detours, and community impacts,” continued the statement. “Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments.”
Eastie’s traffic nightmare began nearly five years ago after the Sumner Tunnel tolls were taken down and replaced with AET.
Apparently MassDOT, when designing the new entrance into the mouth of the tunnel used outdated traffic projections that predicted traffic going into the tunnel would grow by half a percent each year. Going on those projections traffic into the Sumner should have only grown by 2.5 percent from 2013 to 2018. However, MassDOT said that traffic has exploded and there was a whopping 47 percent increase in tunnel traffic since 2013. That was nearly 45 percent more than MassDOT predicted over the same time period.
Residents are eager to see if the latest MassDOT project to improve the Sumner Tunnel will have the same dire effects on traffic in the neighborhood as the last project.