Big Dig disrupts traffic - even at night

| Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When it’s not busy flooding from leaks, Boston ’s Big Dig project has been causing traffic headaches in the downtown area at night.

The problem, according to The Boston Globe, is that portions of the project that are closed at night for repairs are being shut down much earlier than the times posted by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

During a four-week period in July and August, The Globe monitored closures of key ramps and tunnels and found that of 137 ramp closures, 51 of the shutdowns occurred earlier than scheduled.

On average, The Globe reported the shutdowns occurred about a half an hour before schedule. But in at least one instance, an access ramp was shut down a full hour and a half before schedule.

Big Dig officials said the closures were necessary to complete urgent work on the tunnels – including repairing numerous leaks – but couldn’t offer an explanation as to why the closures were not happening on schedule.

The closings of the tunnel ramps are staggered, beginning at 8 p.m. The entire tunnel system is shutdown by 1 a.m., and reopened before rush hour.

Mariellen Burns, director of communications for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, told The Globe that project managers could close portions of the tunnels at their discretion if traffic was light and the work was urgent.

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