Why You Can't Catch The 'Green Wave' In Boston

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Mid-day traffic moving through Dudley Sq in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Mid-day traffic moving through Dudley Sq in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Most of us have probably never caught an elusive "Green Wave" in Boston, the nickname for sailing through all the timed green lights on a busy street.

The concept has been around since the 1920s and in our region, determines how most of our traffic lights are programmed. But if you've spent any frustrated time in local jams, you know the reality falls far short of the promise.

Today, we're continuing WBUR's traffic series, "Driving Us Crazy," with a look at some of the region's worst intersections and how to fix them. It's part of WBUR's BostonomiX: a new initiative covering the intersection between brains and business.


Peter Furth, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University, which tweets @Northeastern.


WBUR: How Traffic Forms, And How Changing Driver Habits Could Help

  • "If you drive to work, you probably know exactly where the bottlenecks are. The Leverett down ramp in Boston. The 495/Mass Pike connection in Hopkinton. Places where a lot of cars need to funnel through one road. That’s the key finding of a 2012 MIT study, which found that during rush hour, most roads in the Boston area are actually under capacity. Study author Marta Gonzalez compared roadways to clogged arteries — and traffic to a heart attack."

City of Boston: Report A Traffic Signal Problem

  • At this site you can also "Report a Missing / Damaged Street Sign," a "Walk Light Problem," a "Pavement Marking Issue," or a "Streetlight Out" in Boston.


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