A quick guide to survive Day 1 of the disruptive Sumner Tunnel closure

A sign near the Sumner Tunnel entrance warn drivers to expect delays this summer. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A sign near the Sumner Tunnel entrance warn drivers to expect delays this summer. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

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The fog may have put a damper on last night’s fireworks, but the skies should clear up for the rest of the week, with highs approaching 90.

Now, let’s get some clarity on another big piece of news today:

Yes, the big, two-month Sumner Tunnel closure has officially begun. While it may seem like just a barely one-mile tunnel from East Boston to the city’s downtown, officials are warning drivers that general traffic into the Boston area will only get worse until the tunnel reopens in September. You can read our full guide to getting around the closure here. Here are the essentials:

  • How bad will the traffic be? Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver has said North Shore commuters detouring through the Tobin Bridge and Ted Williams Tunnel could see “multi-mile” backups that add up to an hour to trips, depending on the time of day. And while those traveling from the North Shore and East Boston “will be the hardest impacted, without a doubt,” Gulliver says drivers from all directions will feel the effects. “If you’re coming from the west or if you’re coming from the south, you will also see additional congestion,” he said.
  • So, what should you do? The state’s mantra is “ditch the drive” and take public transit. They’re trying to make it more appealing — both by land and by sea:
  • The entire Blue Line will be free, with trains running more frequently and discounted parking at several stations.
  • The MBTA is also making five bus routes from Revere, Chelsea and East Boston fare-free during the closure. (Fares also won’t be collected at the SL3’s Chelsea stops.)
  • Trips on the Newburyport/Rockport Line commuter rail line will be discounted to $2.40 per trip. Parking at most stations will be free, with $2 daily parking in Salem and Swampscott.
  • Ferries will run to downtown Boston from East Boston, Winthrop and Lynn. The East Boston boat is free, while the Winthrop and Lynn ferries are $2.40 each way.
  • You probably shouldn’t try driving or Ubering to Logan Airport. But if you do, Massport says to give yourself an additional two hours to get there. Or take the Blue Line, Silver Line, ferry or Logan Express bus, which is $3 from Back Bay and $9 from the ‘burbs.
  • The best day to take public transit or work from home: Gulliver predicts the worst traffic day will be this coming Monday, July 10.
  • Stay in the loop: The MBTA is providing hourly alternative service and parking updates on its Twitter page. As for the roads, Google’s live traffic map is already showing deep shades of red through the Williams Tunnel and Tobin Bridge.

Here’s what else you may have missed if you logged off for the Fourth of July holiday weekend:

  • Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara is facing charges after she crashed an unregistered and uninsured car into a home in Jamaica Plain on Friday. (Lara was traveling with her young son, Zaire; fortunately, neither reported any major injuries.) WBUR’s Walter Wuthmann reports Lara has a history of driving violations.
  • Say farewell to Christmas Tree Shops: After initial hopes of only closing a few stores, the Massachusetts-based chain says it now plans to liquidate all of its stores due to worsening finances. According to CBS News Boston, closing sales could begin as soon as this Friday.
  • The mayor of Lawrence says the city’s police chief has abruptly retired, amid an investigation into the department. Chief Roy Vasque was placed on leave in January due to the probe — though the reason for the inquiry has not been made public. The Eagle Tribune reports incidents involving four other officers are also being investigated.
  • Some good news: A 31-year-old Massachusetts woman who went missing last week was found alive Monday after spending several days trapped in the swampy area of Borderland State Park in Easton. She was taken to the hospital with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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