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massdot-formal_logoThe Massachusetts Department of Transportation today announced that it has submitted a Request for Advisory Opinion with the Massachusetts Environment Policy Act (MEPA) in order to conduct a 12-month pilot to re-evaluate allowing unrestricted traffic on sections of the South Boston Bypass Road and a portion of the I-93 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV lane) in South Boston.

A notification of this request is now published in the MEPA Environmental Monitor and the public has twenty days to provide comments and feedback to MEPA. A decision on a potential pilot will be made by MEPA in the following weeks, and MassDOT would then begin the pilot program this fall.

The full traffic pattern changes that would be implemented 24/7 through this pilot program would 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.

MassDOT is requesting to undertake this pilot program in order to analyze impacts to traffic and freight operations throughout the South Boston region over a broad time frame. 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 allow 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 and businesses and the local environment. Upon completion of the pilot, MassDOT will return the South Boston Bypass Road and HOV access roadways to previous limited traffic conditions and evaluate the program findings.

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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