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MassDOT Advisory: Snow Overnight into Friday 

National Weather Service forecasting snowfall rates 1-2 inches per hour some regions

Visibility may be reduced to one-half mile at times

All active breakdown use will be suspended during storm; I-93 Boston-Quincy HOV Lane not deployed

MBTA will run buses on Mattapan Line; leave extra time for public transportation trips

 

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising the public to plan ahead if traveling overnight tonight through Friday as forecasters are predicting a storm will bring several inches of snow to Western and Central Massachusetts, higher amounts to the Boston area and northward, and mixed precipitation to the South Shore, Cape and the Islands. Based on current forecasts, 3 to 9 inches of snow is expected across most of the Commonwealth. Travelers should be prepared for variable roadway conditions on Friday and plan ahead as needed. MassDOT is advising the traveling public to use caution if they’re going to be out on the roadways, allow for extra time for their trip, and consider public transportation options.

“We will have crews patrolling and chemically treating our roads by late this evening as snow is anticipated to begin in Western Massachusetts just after midnight tonight,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.  “Depending on the region of the state, the storm will last until Friday afternoon, with heavy snowfall in some areas falling at the time of the Friday morning commute. Travelers are advised to use caution, travel at reduced speeds, and be mindful of poor visibility.”

MassDOT crews this evening will conduct preparation activities in advance of the winter weather and will be pretreating roadways with brine and Magnesium Chloride as conditions necessitate.

MassDOT has approximately 3,900 pieces of state and vendor equipment available for snow and ice operations which includes over 1,400 plow and spreader combos, 2,100 plows, and 460 front-end loaders.  MassDOT and cities and towns have changed their operating procedures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and no crew shortages are expected. The department is confident that it has plenty of equipment, staff, and materials.

As announced by the Governor’s Office this afternoon, due to the upcoming storm, the Baker-Polito Administration directed all non-emergency state employees working in Executive Branch agencies not to report to their workplaces tomorrow, January 7.  Registry of Motor Vehicle (RMV) employees will be contacted by their supervisor to determine their assignments and schedules for Friday.  The RMV will post further updates about individual Customer Service Center openings, closings and road test cancellations or delays and hours of operation at www.mass.gov/RMV.  The RMV will also contact any customers with impacted appointment cancellations or delays if those customers are impacted.

Due to the weather forecast, MassDOT will not be deploying the I-93 Boston-Quincy High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on Friday and the Sumner Tunnel Swing Lane will not be activated.  In addition, all active breakdown lane use on highways will be suspended during the storm.

The MBTA urges its riders to plan additional time for their commutes, and T customers are encouraged to get service information by signing up for T-Alerts, following @MBTA and @MBTA_CR on Twitter, checking mbta.com/winter, and using the Transit app or the MBTA commuter rail app.

The MBTA will operate non-passenger trains overnight, (early Friday morning), to keep the tracks clear and to look for any trees or branches that pose a threat. Tree-cutting crews will be ready to respond to any situations in which trees or large branches fall on or near tracks.

To prevent damage to the 75-year-old trolleys, service on the Mattapan Line will be suspended Friday morning. Buses will provide replacement service while rail service is suspended.

MBTA emergency crews will be on standby throughout the storm to respond to any issues affecting track switches or power systems.  Heaters for track switches and third rail have been inspected and tested to ensure they function properly. Crews from the MBTA Power Department will be keeping a close eye on overhead wires on the Blue and Green Lines, looking for ice buildup.  Ice cutters, installed on Blue and Green Line vehicles, are designed to remove ice buildup on catenary wires.

Increased staffing will be present throughout the system with snow-fighting equipment pre-deployed in key areas and snow-operating plans currently in place.  The T also has contractors at the ready for snow clearing along key bus routes and T facility/employee parking, freeing up T personnel to concentrate on core system functions.

Since 2015, the MBTA has invested over $100 million to harden vehicles and core infrastructure including track, switches, power systems, and signals; developed a multidisciplinary approach when responding to disruptions in service using experienced teams with the materials and equipment necessary to address a wide variety of potential issues and scenarios.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is monitoring the storm and coordinating with the National Weather Service and local, regional, state, and federal partners, and is prepared to support communities as needed.

If drivers must travel tonight or Friday they are advised to plan ahead, always wear seatbelts, obey the state’s “hands-free” driving law, minimize distractions, and devote full attention to what is ahead on the road.

For updates on road and traffic conditions in Massachusetts, drivers can:

  • Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
  • Visit mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
  • Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

Important winter tips include:

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights, even the hood and roof, before driving, (start with the tailpipe).
  • As the first significant storm this season, it’s a good time to ensure your vehicle is ready for safe winter driving. Keep the gas tank at least half-full, have a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk, and make sure all parts of vehicle are ready for winter: wipers, tires, etc. Have snow brush, shovel, etc. in your vehicle.
  • Be a good neighbor – many of us know people living alone or people living with a disability. Please take a few minutes to check-in with anyone in your neighborhood who may need some extra support before, during, and after the storm.
  • When driving, leave plenty of room for stopping and remember that the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Bridge decks freeze first. Due to the difference in the exposure to air, the surface condition can be worse on a bridge than on the approach road.
  • Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line.
  • Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.
  • Seat belts should always be worn – it’s the law.
  • Most importantly please remember to slow down.

For the most up-to-date information on transportation incidents, travel conditions, and weather impacts, please follow on Twitter @MBTA, @MBTA_CR, @MassDOT, and @MassRMV.  For additional information please check websites, including: www.mbta.com, www.Mass.gov/MEMA, www.mass.gov/RMV.

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