Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Started May 14

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began the closure of one of three southbound travel lanes on Route 1 in Chelsea and the Tobin Bridge the morning of Tuesday, May 14, snarling traffic in many parts of Everett as commuters looked for an alternative route.

The public was also reminded the one-lane northbound closure on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 was expanded the morning of Tuesday, May 14. MassDOT anticipates that these lane closures will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers for months to come.

These traffic impacts are associated with MassDOT’s Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project and lane closures will remain in place for approximately two years. Additional overnight lane closures will be necessary throughout the project meaning only one lane of travel may be open during certain evening hours.

In order to accommodate travelers during this necessary construction work, MassDOT is opening the I-93 southbound carpool lane between Medford and the Zakim Bridge to all vehicles regardless of the number of occupants. This lane will continue to function as an “express lane” and vehicles in this lane on I-93 southbound will not have access to Exit 28 (Mystic Avenue) or Exit 26 (Storrow Drive).

“North Shore commuters should be aware that beginning the morning of Tuesday, May 14, a travel lane will be closed on Route 1 southbound in Chelsea, and the lane closure that is already in place on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 northbound will be expanded,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver last Friday. “MassDOT is carrying out this necessary rehabilitation work in order to ensure the continued use and reliability of Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Viaduct. We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the traveling public and advise everyone to make smart decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

Travelers are also reminded of options such as free fares in the inbound direction on the MBTA Silver Line 3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail. The MBTA is also running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to increase capacity. These measures are all being funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

MassDOT is also advising the public to also consider using the Haverhill or Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail lines and note that the Haverhill Line historically has parking capacity at Haverhill and Bradford stations. The Newburyport/Rockport Line historically has parking capacity at Newburyport, Salem and Lynn station. Customers can monitor @MBTA_Parking on Twitter for capacity updates and information. In addition, the MBTA has installed a digital parking capacity sign at the Blue Line Wonderland parking lot so drivers approaching the lot can get “real time” information on parking availability.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that the most impactful work will be completed by 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

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Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 beginning April 1.

These impacts will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers.

The Department also released details about transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

Beginning April 1, lane closures on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.

Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.

“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the 20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1 area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

The MBTA said they will be offering the free fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.

“During construction, free fares are being offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered during construction.”

MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93 ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1 southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with significant delays expected.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:

•Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

•Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.

•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.

•Check parking availability at the T’s 8 largest garages @MBTA_Parking. •Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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Chelsea Police Receive State Grant to Increase Impaired Driving Patrols

Chelsea Police Receive State Grant to Increase Impaired Driving Patrols

The Chelsea Police Department will increase impaired driving patrols on local roads with grant funds from the Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS).  Chelsea Police will join local departments across the state as well as the Massachusetts State Police in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Overenforcement mobilization and public information campaign.

This year’s campaign will urge drivers drinking alcohol or using marijuana and other drugs to plan ahead and designate a sober driver, use a ride-share service or take public transportation.

“Impaired drivers create a dangerous situation for everyone around them, threatening the destruction of lives and entire families,” said Chief Brian A. Kyes. “This grant will help increase our efforts during the busy summer travel season to keep our roads free of impaired drivers and avoid the tragedy they wreak.”

“Getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, using marijuana or both is one of the most dangerous things drivers can do,” said Jeff Larason, Director of the Highway Safety Division. “A little planning can save your life or someone else’s.  Regret or remorse won’t bring someone back.”

Massachusetts Data:

Marijuana or marijuana-type drugs were the most prevalent types of drugs found in people killed in crashes from 2011 to 2016.

From 2015 to 2016, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased 9 percent (109 to 119).

From 2011-2015, 82 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men.

From 2011-2015, 45 percent of all alcohol-related driver fatalities were ages 21 to 34.

National Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. On average, more than 10,000 people have died each year (2012- 2016) in drunk-driving crashes. To put it in perspective, that’s equal to about 20 jumbo jets crashing, with no survivors.

In 2016, almost one in five children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.

Drugs were present in 43 percent of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result in 2015, more frequently than alcohol was present.

NHTSA’s 2013–2014 roadside survey found drugs in 22 percent of all drivers both on weekend nights and on weekdays.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects—slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane.

Mixing alcohol and marijuana may dramatically produce effects greater than either drug on its own.

To view the Highway Safety Division’s (HSD) “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” TV spots, or for more information about the HSD’s public information campaign, go to www.mass.gov/DriveSober

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Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.

MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.

This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.

The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:

  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
  • Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
  • Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.

No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J Tinlin Resigning

MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J Tinlin Resigning

 Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack announced today that Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin has decided to resign from MassDOT.

“From grueling snowstorms to toll demolitions, Tom Tinlin was there to see our highway projects through on time and on budget and he always brought his sense of humor and kindness to the job,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “He worked tirelessly to support the Commonwealth’s commuters to ensure everyone got to their destinations quickly and safely in every corner of the state.  On behalf of the entire Administration, I thank him for his service and wish him the best of luck toward future endeavors.”

Jonathan Gulliver will continue in the role of Acting Highway Administrator through September.  Gulliver was named Acting Administrator in May after it was announced that Mr. Tinlin would take time off to address a medical issue.  Prior to being named Acting Administrator, Gulliver had served as Director of Highway Division District 3.

Tinlin was scheduled to return to his work as Highway Administrator this week after being off the job since May 1. In announcing his resignation today, he said, “I am grateful for the excellent care I received after suffering from a subarachnoid brain aneurysm rupture and would like to publicly thank Dr. Ajith Thomas and all of the doctors and nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for returning me to 100 percent so I can start the next chapter of my life as a healthy husband and father.”

Tinlin added, “While I am excited about what lies ahead, this has been a difficult decision. I have truly loved serving the people of the Commonwealth, and the City of Boston, and have taken pride in my public service roles for decades. And I am grateful for all the mentors I have had along the way.”

Tinlin joined MassDOT in January 2014 as its Chief of Operations and Maintenance and in March 2015 was promoted to Highway Administrator.

“Tom has led the Highway Division with integrity and pride and this state’s transportation system is better because of his management,” said Secretary Pollack.  “Tom’s strong work ethic, organizational skills, and collaborative style motivated employees, engaged the public and created partnerships benefitting everyone in the Commonwealth.  Tom never wavered in making decisions in the best interest of public safety and leaves MassDOT with a reputation he is deserving of, as a responsive and dedicated public servant.”

Since Mr. Tinlin joined MassDOT, new initiatives were launched by the Highway Division, including Complete Streets which provides money to communities for street infrastructure work, and the Municipal Small Bridge Program, a several year $50 million program to aid towns and cities in replacing or renovating small municipally-owned bridges.  Under his leadership, in October 2016, the state transitioned from manual to all-electronic toll collections, a project which involved, in part, having specific design, management and road reconstruction plans in 23 work zones from the New York border to Boston. In addition, Mr. Tinlin oversaw the introduction by MassDOT of technology to modernize highway operations and provide new tools to the public to use for travel, including “real-time” travel to destination highway signs and the 511 system. In managing the Highway Division staff of more than 2,500, Mr. Tinlin embraced a multi-modal approach to roadway design and led the implementation of transportation plans for countless planned and unplanned events for the Commonwealth.

Tinlin has spent nearly three decades in public service, working first for the City of Boston in a variety of roles and leaving the Menino Administration as Boston Transportation Commissioner.  Tinlin holds a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University and is active in many Boston organizations, participating in particular in many non-profit causes, many in the neighborhood of South Boston where he has grown up and raised his family.

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Technology is Killing Us

Technology is Killing Us

It often is said that technology is a two-edged sword. While it certainly is true that advances in technology bring many benefits, those benefits often find themselves subject to the law of unintended consequences.

The dramatic rise in cell phone use represents a clear example of how technology can have an adverse impact on our society.

According to a 2016 study published by Harvard Medical School researchers, an estimated 40,200 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, marking not only the highest number of traffic fatalities in nearly a decade, but also the sharpest rise — after years of decline — in more than five decades.

And the chief culprit implicated for the dramatic increase was cellphone use — more than a quarter of car accidents are caused by phone distraction, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

According to a recent article in the New York Times,there is overwhelming evidence that even hands-free phone use is just as cognitively distracting as holding the phone. In some cases, such as when issuing voice commands, it may be even more distracting.

The article in the Times continues, “According to a University of Utah study, using a phone, whether hand-held or not, impairs driver performance as much as, or more than, drinking. And many safety advocates hope that distracted driving soon carries the same behavior-altering stigma.

“At least 32 countries across the globe have laws targeting hand-held phone use while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Portugal, all phone use while driving, including hands-free, is illegal. The U.K. has recently doubled the fines drivers may face for using a mobile device behind the wheel, and British lawmakers recently proposed life sentences for drivers who kill when using their phones.

And there is this eye-opening conclusion, “Taking your eyes off the road at 55 mph for the five seconds it takes to send or read a text is similar to driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut.”

All of us talk and drive these days and many (if not most) of us text while driving (even though the latter is now against the law in Massachusetts, even if stopped at a red light).

So, as our parochial school nuns might say, “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

We urge all of our readers to understand the dangers inherent in cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle and we encourage our readers to curtail, and even eliminate, what truly can be described as risky behavior.

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Second Storm Breeds Icy Conditions

Second Storm Breeds Icy Conditions

The official snow count in Chelsea for Tuesday’s snowstorm was around 6.5 inches – and a good deal of that accumulation was quickly removed from the City’s roads and streets, something that cannot be said for state highways and byways.

At the height of the storm on Tuesday, most streets in Chelsea and especially major thoroughfares had been cleared and were passable. That wasn’t exactly the case for several state highways, including Rt. 1 and Rt. 1A. Near Logan Airport, jackknifed semi-trucks and spinning automobiles clogged up the highway and made it a virtual free-for-all, while northbound traffic sat at a standstill due to smaller cars struggling to climb moderate hills.

City Manager Jay Ash said Chelsea and Boston turned in some of the better plowing jobs in the region, and he said Chelsea’s results were a matter of good timing.

“We were pleased with our attack of the snow storm on Tuesday,” said Ash.  “Sometimes, the best of plans can go awry, especially dealing with winter storms. We timed it right and our sanding and plowing operators did a great job during the storm.”

With warmer weather on the horizon (Saturday is pegged at hitting about 55 degrees), Ash said they are expecting a considerable amount of the snow from the Sunday and Tuesday storms to melt away.

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