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image005The Massachusetts Department of Transportation today announced that beginning Monday, October 15, 2018, all traffic will be able to use sections of the South Boston Bypass Road and a portion of the I-93 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV lane) in South Boston at all times for a 12-month period.

This pilot program will provide another route option for drivers traveling inbound to the South Boston area from I-93 northbound and members of the public are advised that the South Boston Bypass Road can be accessed via Exit 18 on I-93. This pilot program is being launched following approval by the Massachusetts Environment Policy Act (MEPA) office which issued an Advisory Opinion at the request of MassDOT.

The full traffic pattern changes that will be implemented 24/7 through this pilot program include allowing unrestricted eastbound travel on the South Boston Bypass Road between I-93 Frontage Road and Cypher Street/Richards Street and allowing unrestricted travel in both directions of the South Boston Bypass Road between Cypher Street/Richards Street and West Service Road. Additionally, access to the I-93 HOV lane from the following areas leading to Logan International Airport will also be unrestricted: the I-93 northbound mainline, I-93 northbound Frontage Road, and Kneeland Street/Lincoln Street.

“We are pleased to be conducting this pilot program of allowing general traffic on sections of the South Boston Bypass Road and the I-93 HOV lane so we can analyze the impacts to traffic flow and freight operations throughout the South Boston region over a broad time frame,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We encourage members of the public to consider using this new route option if they are traveling into the Fort Point and Seaport area or carpooling to Logan Airport on I-93, and we look forward to learning the results of this pilot program.”

“I am cautiously optimistic that additional drivers will be able to use the bypass road to help alleviate the increase of traffic in the South Boston area,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “This is a pilot program and we will monitor the results as we adjust to the robust growth in the Financial District and the South Boston Seaport areas. I do appreciate the efforts of Stephanie Pollack and MassDOT for their proactive approach to help better manage our busy streets.” 

“I am glad that MassDOT has decided to expand this pilot program,” said State Senator Nick Collins. “It is important that we gather as much data as possible and explore all options to provide relief from the cut-through traffic that is hammering our neighborhoods in Boston. Suburban commuters will now have another option to get to the waterfront and downtown from the highway without cutting through residential communities like South Boston. I want to thank the Baker Administration for recognizing that and taking this step in the right direction.” 

The pilot will expand upon the previous 6-month pilot carried out by MassDOT from August 2015 through February 2016 which implemented similar traffic pattern changes including allowing unrestricted eastbound travel on the South Boston Bypass Road during peak commuting hours. Given the economic growth of the South Boston waterfront in recent years and corresponding changes in traffic levels, the pilot program will allow further data collection so long-term decisions can be made.

Throughout the pilot program, MassDOT will analyze the impact of these traffic access changes on commuters, residents, businesses and the local environment. Upon completion of the pilot in the fall of 2019, MassDOT will return the South Boston Bypass Road and HOV access roadways to previous limited traffic conditions and evaluate the pilot program findings. 

“The South Boston Waterfront is a vital commercial and residential asset for the City of Boston and we have been collaborating with MassDOT and the community to address the transportation issues that are a result of the area’s popularity,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca.  “We are hopeful that the pilot program will prove to relieve congestion and improve roadway safety in the South Boston Waterfront as well as on streets in the adjacent South Boston neighborhood.”

“A Better City and our Seaport members has been a strong advocate for moving forward with this year-long Haul Road opening pilot,” said A Better City President and CEO Richard A. Dimino. “We fully support and are pleased that MassDOT is moving forward with this traffic relief test and initiative.”

“We commend MassDOT for moving forward with the South Boston Bypass Road Pilot Re-Evaluation Project,” said Seaport Transportation Management Association Executive Director Patrick Sullivan. “This project is another example of the strong collaborative effort between MassDOT, the City of Boston, Massport, and our local elected officials to pursue a variety of multi-modal transportation improvements aimed at improving mobility in the South Boston Waterfront.”

Current restrictions to traffic are in place per the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) issued in 1986 for the Third Harbor Tunnel/Central Artery Tunnel Project which required that the road be a commercial vehicle route upon project completion. 

Potential permanent changes to traffic access throughout this area will require coordination and approval from numerous state and federal agencies including Massport, MEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act process, and the Federal Highway Administration. Any permanent change would require the filing of a Notice of Project Change over the original Final Environmental Impact Report.

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