With just three weeks to go until the Sumner Tunnel's temporary closure, officials are urging those who plan to travel through the area to ditch their cars.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation estimates that about 39,000 cars use the tunnel each day. The nearly 100-year-old structure connects East Boston and Logan Airport to downtown Boston. The tunnel has been closed many weekends over the past year for maintenance, but starting on July 5, it will be closed seven days a week through Aug. 31.
State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver warns that during these eight weeks drivers will feel “major impacts” on roadways, as he anticipates heavy traffic congestion during the closure.
“Believe us when we tell you that the worst commute you’re going to have is on the road through this area so if you can take another way, you should do it,” Gulliver said.
Most of the traffic will be diverted to the Ted Williams Tunnel and the Tobin Bridge, Gulliver said; he estimates traffic disruptions will add an hour or more to commutes.
MassDot has been working with Massport and the MBTA for months to come up with travel alternatives that will encourage drivers to avoid using their cars during the closure to help alleviate congestion.
Some travel alternatives MassDot suggests include the MBTA’s Blue Line or the East Boston Ferry — both of which will be free for riders during the shutdown.
“The more people avoid traveling through that area, the better,” Gulliver said. "We really want to encourage people to ditch the drive and [find a different mode of travel]."
For people who cannot avoid driving during tunnel repairs, Gulliver recommends they visit the Mass 511 website to understand what kind of congestion they can expect while traveling.