Special to the Times-Free Press
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) today announced a comprehensive mitigation plan to address travel impacts and provide cost effective alternative transportation options for residents and visitors ahead of the scheduled closure of the Sumner Tunnel from Wednesday, July 5, through Thursday, August 31, 2023. The tunnel will be fully closed for approximately two months to facilitate work on the Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project.
The Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project will offer a variety of mitigation options for individuals coming from all travel points, including free trips on the MBTA Blue Line for the during the tunnel’s closure; free and reduced cost water ferry options; reduced Commuter Rail fares for riders; reduced parking costs at MBTA and Commuter Rail parking lots and garages; discounted tolls for residents; and additional options for travelers to and from Logan Airport.
In addition to providing the East Boston Ferry as a free transit option, the MBTA has added a new ferry service between Lynn and Central Wharf in Boston to provide an additional transit option during the Sumner Tunnel closure.
These are preliminary measures and MassDOT and the MBTA will continue to consider additional mitigation options as well as new and innovative approaches to modes of transportation.
“We know the closure of the Sumner Tunnel will be a daily impact to those living, working, and traveling in this region,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca. “The Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project is a crucial investment in transportation infrastructure in the Commonwealth, and we are working hard to provide as many mitigation measures as possible to those impacted. I want to thank our partners for their efforts in creating mitigation options while this work is ongoing, and our residents and travelers for their willingness to explore alternative travel options over the next two months.”
“Since launching the Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project last year, we have been working closely with our partners to identify any and all mitigation measures we can put in place,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our message to residents and those traveling is when moving through this area, if possible, leave your car at home and explore the MBTA’s transit options, including the Blue Line, Commuter Rail, and ferry service options available to you.”
“I’m pleased that together with MassDOT, the MBTA is able to offer free Blue Line service to those impacted by the Sumner Tunnel closure this summer,” said MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng. “The MBTA has been working hard to reduce travel times on the Blue Line in anticipation of this project. We have the capacity needed on the Blue Line to serve our existing and new customers on this line, and I encourage those who can to take advantage of this free service in July and August.”
Additional details on mitigation options are below:
Travel To/From East Boston And North End MBTA Blue Line and Parking
The entire Blue Line in both directions will be free to riders. Gates will be open at all Blue Line stations from Wonderland to Bowdoin.
An additional train will be added to the Blue Line in the midday period to help support more riders riding the line.
All MBTA parking lots and garages on the Blue Line will be reduced to $2/day. Additional free parking is available near Wood Island Station.
Visit mbta.com/Sumner for additional information.
Discounted tolls will be provided for the Tobin Bridge and Ted Williams Tunnel for those registered in the Resident Discount Program.
Real Time Traffic monitoring will be available at 13 local intersections.
East Boston Ferry
The East Boston ferry will be free during the tunnel’s closure.
The East Boston ferry service project operates between East Boston at Lewis Mall and the downtown Boston area at Long Wharf. East Boston ferry service schedules are available online with all ferry service schedules available at mbta.com/ferry.
Travel To/From The North Shore Commuter Rail and Parking
Zone 1A ($2.40) fares from Salem and Swampscott Commuter Rail. Parking at Salem and Swampscott is just $2 per day.
Free parking at lots north of Salem, including Beverly, Gloucester, Hamilton/Wenham, Newburyport, North Beverly, Monserrat, Rowley, and West Gloucester.
Blue Line benefits also apply. Travelers are encouraged to utilize the Wonderland Station parking lot if coming from the North Shore.
The Lynn Ferry will operate between the Blossom St. dock in Lynn to Central Wharf in Boston (near Aquarium).
Free parking at the City of Lynn-owned lot will be available near the Blossom St. dock. Bicycles are allowed on the ferry.
Riders may use a Zone 1A fare ($2.40).
The Lynn Ferry will operate five days/week on weekdays only, with 10 trips per day. Schedules are being finalized and will be released as soon as they’re available.
Travel To/From Logan Airport Logan Express
There will be a 25% discount when you buy tickets online, and children under 17 ride free.
Adding additional parking capacity at Braintree Logan Express.
MBTA Silver Line (SL1 & SL3) buses can use the I-90 EB Emergency Ramp.
“Skip the Security Line” at Logan will be available for all water transportation users (must show ticket).
Added stop at Logan Airport by the Winthrop Ferry.
MassDOT also has a working partnership with public safety agencies and Boston EMS to support public safety during the Sumner Tunnel closure. There will be two dedicated ambulances for East Boston, two rotating ambulances to support the day shift, two rotating ambulances to support the evening shift, and one rotating ambulance to support the overnight shift.
As part of the public outreach process, over the last five years MassDOT has engaged with a wide range of community stakeholders, large employers, advocates, trade organizations, and community groups. A hands-on approach has been undertaken to inform as many people as possible about the Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project – including pop-up information sessions at various little league fields, community events, food pantries, and neighborhood associations. For a list of upcoming public information events this month, click here.
Built in the 1930s, the Sumner Tunnel is the first traffic tunnel in Massachusetts and one of the oldest in the nation. The Sumner Tunnel is one of four ways into the City of Boston and processes over 39,000 vehicles per day and is the main connection for East Boston, Logan Airport, and a main entry point for the North Shore.
The Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project is a $160 million investment in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. The project’s scope includes removing and replacing the tunnel ceiling and repairing the overhead arch; demolishing and replacing the tunnel deck and roadway surface; repairing tunnel walls and installing fireproof panels; installing new LED lights inside the tunnel; upgrading CCTV and fire alarm systems; installing new utility conduits and cables under the bridge deck; and focusing on environmental resiliency with new equipment that will reduce air pollution and improve storm readiness.
This period between July 5 and Labor Day historically has the lowest traffic volumes of the year and is outside of the school year making it much more manageable for traffic management. A second full closure of the Sumner Tunnel will then occur in the summer of 2024, for approximately two months during a similar period between July and August.
For additional details on the Sumner Tunnel, please visit mass.gov/sumner-tunnel and sign up for email updates at MassDOT.