1 down, 57 days to go: How the Sumner Tunnel closure is going

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)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

After a rain-soaked holiday weekend, today looks like another great chance for outdoor time. But one note of caution: There's an air quality advisory for Suffolk and Essex counties starting at 11 a.m., and this time Canadian wildfires aren't the reason. Rather, elevated ozone levels will make conditions unhealthy for sensitive groups in those select areas. (Air quality will be moderate everywhere else.)

Now, to the news:

One day down; 57 to go: The first day of the two-month Sumner Tunnel closure came and went, and while it undoubtedly resulted in added congestion for those headed across the harbor from East Boston and Logan Airport, WBUR's Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez reports most travelers and commuters felt prepared for it. "We knew about the tunnel," said Tim Dagata, a visitor from Washington, D.C., who was flying back yesterday. "We saw the signs on the tunnel on the way in. Our airline also told us. So, it was well known."

  • On the roads: Belwinder Gill, a Boston cab driver for 24 years, said he made two trips to Logan yesterday and the drive back through the Ted Williams Tunnel was 10 minutes longer than usual. Gill said he thinks people were ready because of the regular weekend closures of the Sumner over the last year.
  • One big caveat: Yesterday was a relatively light travel day. State officials have said the first big test will likely be next week.
  • On the Blue Line: Even if Logan was quiet, Perdomo-Hernandez reports the Blue Line was packed with morning commuters. "I’m not even thinking of really crossing into the city by car," said Eastie resident Natasha Winter.
  • Another caveat: Perdomo-Hernandez says many Blue Line riders didn't know (but were pleasantly surprised) that the line is free during the closure.
  • Psst: You can read about more tips for avoiding the Sumner Tunnel closure in this comprehensive guide from Andrea and me.

One closure we won't have to worry about this month: The Green Line Extension's one-station leg to Union Square. Gov. Maura Healey's administration announced yesterday that they're postponing the six weeks of repair work on a nearby Route 28 bridge so the GLX branch closure doesn't happen until September.

  • Why the change of plans? Last week's announcement elicited outspoken concern from local officials about the closure's timing and lack of diversion plans. In response, Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand said MassDOT inspected the bridge over the weekend and found it "safe to delay repairs until September" so the work doesn't coincide with the Sumner Tunnel closure. Hand added it gives more time to explore other ways to ease the disruption and communicate plans with the public.
  • Remember: This doesn't change the plans to close the Green Line's B branch later this month. That diversion is still on.

A change of heart: Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty says he will no longer seek reelection this year, after a total of 20 years in office. The South Boston Democrat and former mayoral candidate had originally filed to run to keep his at-large seat but announced last night he changed his mind after talking it over with his family.

  • What's next: Flaherty says he has "no present plans to run for another public office." His decision means at least three City Council seats will change hands this year. (District 8 Councilor Kenzie Bok has already left office and District 3 Councilor Frank Baker says he's not running again.)

We told you: Beacon Hill isn't exactly chomping at the bit to act on Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's proposal to bring back a form of rent control. State House News Service reports Boston's home rule petition likely won't get a review — much less a vote — until this fall. It's a timeline housing advocates criticize for lacking urgency.

  • As WBUR's Steve Brown reported in May, Boston's measure — which now needs approval from the State House and Gov. Maura Healey due to Massachusetts' rent control ban — has little public support among the Democratic supermajority on Beacon Hill.
  • It's not just rent control: The Boston Globe reported this spring that the State House is off to a historically slow start.

P.S.— The North End's Improv Asylum is offering free shows every Wednesday night beginning next week through the end of August. You can check the full schedule and show times here.


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



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