MassDOT reactivated the Sumner Tunnel ‘swing lane’ on Monday morning and State Police have already confirmed that one vehicle has crashed into the swing lane gates.
The swing lane is a traffic calming measure that closes the center lane into the Sumner Tunnel during the weekday rush. Traffic heading into the tunnel from Route 1A and Logan Airport will have to merge into the far left lane between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
State Police are urging drivers to use caution due to an accident occurring on opening day just hours after the gates were reactivated by MassDOT. The swing lane was deactivated during the pandemic due to the low volume of traffic into the Sumner this past year. MassDOT said they were reactivated to accommodate returning traffic volumes on Route 1A.
While traffic is still low, the swing gate can be a hazard for fast traveling vehicles that are not aware of their presence.
State Trooper Jonathan Cooper Harris reported that on Monday just after 8 a.m. a pick up truck traveling southbound into the tunnel smashed into the swing late gates and damaged several of the gates as well as his truck.
“The (truck) was stopped by a Trooper on Nashua Street and the Trooper observed minor damage to his vehicle and windshield,” said Harris. “The (swing lane’s) arrow boards and signs were also damaged. The operator stated he saw the gates at the last minute and tried to move out of the way but couldn’t.”
The swing lanes are usually avoidable when slow moving traffic is crawling into the tunnel during the morning commute. With traffic traveling slowly the orange swing gates gradually jet out to move traffic into the far left lane.
However, like the incident Monday morning, a vehicle traveling down the incline of Route 1A into the Sumner–coupled with a sharp turn before the swing gates–a driver has little time to react and maneuver out of the way when the gates are blocking the center lane.
MassDOT suspended the use of the swing lane due to reduced traffic volumes at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. MassDOT will now resume the regularly scheduled deployment of the swing lane to support traffic levels that are slowly rebounding and in conjunction with the input from the community.
Signage and messaging will be in place to notify drivers. MassDOT encourages the public to be mindful of this traffic adjustment.