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Traffic was slow but not as bad as feared on first morning commute of Comm Ave Bridge project

The project is going according to schedule, Acting Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.
A view of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project
A view of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge Project where crews are replacing the deficient bridge with accelerated methods. Photo: Patrick Marvin/ Twitter

The first Monday morning rush hour since the start of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge project did see some congestion, but it was less less traffic than expected, MassDOT Acting Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.

On Monday morning, the capacity of the Massachusetts Turnpike was essentially cut in half, Gulliver said, and it did cause some delays. On the eastbound side of the Mass Pike, traffic was backed up to West Newton and on the westbound side, drivers hit delays starting at Logan Airport.

Still, traffic could have been worse. Officials are hoping that they don’t see an increase in delays on Tuesday, though they said they won’t be sure of the traffic toll until tomorrow.

“I want to reiterate that if you have to come in, plan your trip ahead of time, give yourself plenty of extra time and use whatever tools are available to you: Waze, Mass511,” Gulliver said at a press conference near the bridge Monday morning. “Make sure you understand well in advance what you could be up against.”

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If commuters do not reroute their trip or take heed to avoid the area, the construction could add 90 minutes to a driver’s commute, Gulliver said, according to WBZ.

As of Monday morning, it seemed that at least some drivers were taking his advice to find an alternate way to work. Or, Gulliver hopes, changing their schedules so that they don’t need to go to work this week.

“I hope that a lot of people chose to take this as a vacation week,” he said at the press conference. “It’s a great week to do it, there’s great weather.”

Gulliver noted again that this project is using accelerated construction techniques, which enables workers to complete the repairs on the bridge in about a six week period, with three weeks of construction this summer and another three weeks next year.

“It’s going to cause a lot of agony on the everyday commuter, but it allows us to get out of here quickly,” he said.

For commuters using other types of transportation, buses have replaced the Green Line B branch between Blandford Street and Babcock Street stations. Cyclists are still allowed to travel over the bridge, which, now free of cars, seems to be a better commute experience for those on two wheels.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed Aug. 14. So far, Gulliver said, everything is going according to schedule.