Ferry Starts Monday as “Ditch the Drive” Promoted by Rep. Armini & Sen. Crighton
As most Marblehead-to-Boston commuters know, an already hellish stop-and-go experience is expected to get markedly worse on Wednesday July 5th, when the Sumner Tunnel closes for two months. It “could be a challenge on The Amazing Race,” says State Representative Jenny Armini. “The Sumner Tunnel closure ups the pressure and the stress, which is why I am grateful to Senator Crighton for leading our legislative delegation in negotiating a range of affordable alternatives to driving this summer.”
The Lynn ferry – one of several planned traffic mitigation options – launches Monday, June 26th, and Armini is confident that if word spreads about it, some of the pain for commuters might be eased. “I’ll be taking the ferry,” says Armini. “[A]nd I hope to see lots of ‘Headers on there with me.”
The major tunnel – one of two used by North Shore drivers on their way to Boston – is slated to be closed through August 31st for the Sumner Tunnel Restoration Project, a $160 million plan to make structural and environmental improvements to the nearly 90-year-old tunnel. While repairs have already begun during weekend closures over the past several months, the tunnel will now be fully closed for the duration of the summer, and officials have warned that drivers heading to Boston from the North Shore could expect to see an hour tacked on to their original commute.
While regular traffic will be diverted to the Ted Williams Tunnel and the Tobin Bridge, public officials have been promoting a “Ditch the Drive” campaign to encourage people to opt for public transportation instead. “Commuters will have various public transit options, including free Blue Line service, reduced Commuter Rail fares, and the return of the commuter ferry service to the North Shore,” the Lynn Legislative Delegation, through Armini, told Marblehead Beacon. “While the tunnel closure will be challenging, these robust service improvements will help take cars off the road and get people to where they need to go at a price they can afford.”
In terms of specifics relevant to Marblehead commuters, the mitigation efforts will include:
Free trips on the MBTA’s Blue Line, along with reduced parking in Blue Line lots and garages ($2.00/daily)
Restored ferry service from Lynn and Salem to Boston, with reduced-cost tickets ($2.40 each way)
Free parking in Lynn ferry lot
Reduced fees for Commuter Rail from Swampscott to Boston ($2.40/each way)
Reduced parking fees in Swampscott and some other North Shore-area Commuter Rail parking lots ($2.00/day)
For travelers to and from Logan International Airport, discounted Logan Express service and additional Silver Line service
These traffic mitigation efforts are guaranteed for at least for the period during which the tunnel will be closed, though some are hopeful they will remain in place on a longer-term basis.
In order to help commuters get ahead of possible delays in traffic or on public transportation, a 511 hotline has been established to provide updates on all things commuting. Additionally, to help map out the optimal way to get from Point A to Point B on a given day, travelers may utilize the MBTA’s Trip Planner. Finally, for those looking to get important roadway- and mass transit-related updates, there is a signup form available here.
Exactly what will the Sumner Tunnel Project accomplish? According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the two-plus month project with a $160 million price tag (assuming no cost overruns or delays) will include repairs and replacement of much of the tunnel’s ceiling, deck, and roadway surface, as well as the installation of new fire safety mechanisms, lighting, air pollution prevention, and storm preparedness features.