MassDot Makes Slight Changes to Toll Plaza Project

Friday, April 29, 2016
By Transcript Staff

By John Lynds

After hearing residents complaints that there hasn’t been enough community input on the proposed changes to the Sumner Tunnel Toll Plaza as MassDOT moves to implement All Electronic Tolling (AET) in Eastie, officials came back with some changes.

At a community meeting Monday night, MassDOT’s presentation was similar to the one given on March 8 in East Boston, except they have tweaked the design a little.

The new design presented at Monday’s meeting restores the current turn on to Havre street from Route 1A. The new design eliminates the traffic light for cars attempting to enter tunnel-bound lanes from Porter Street and replaces it with a yield sign. The green space has been reconfigured from a hilled landscaped area to a flat grassy area.

The tweaked design also includes the possibility for traffic calming measures and various adjustments to islands and dotted lines.

However, the presentation was met with mixed reviews.

According to attendees, like Michael Passariello, there were numerous concerns over safety and feasibility of the merge for local drivers into the tunnel bound lanes.

“While a speed limit of 30 mph will be posted, many residents in attendance agreed that this is probably not feasible because cars have no reason to slow down to 30 mph if there is nothing stopping them,” he said. “Compared to residential streets like Bennington street where travel at 30 mph or above is common, this stretch of road does not seem like it will be driven on at 30 mph.”

There were also concerns about backups on Visconti Way stemming from difficult merge conditions into the tunnel for local motorists with a majority residents concerned because their main ways of accessing the toll plaza now can possibly be impacted by the redesign.

Concerns were also raised about inexperienced or elderly drivers who will have to merge into potentially dangerous road conditions as fast moving traffic comes down Route 1A into the tunnel.

At the meeting MassDOT said does not intend to make any aspect of the toll plaza redesign worse than the current conditions and officials said this is demonstrated by cutting down from the current eight lanes of access points into the tunnel to two.

However, residents felt cutting down to two lanes will improve traffic for North Shore commuters but the state’s plan does little for local residents trying to enter the tunnel.

Traffic at the Sumner Tunnel Toll Plaza. MassDOT tweaked its original design to their proposed changes to the toll plaza as the state moves to implement All Electronic Tolling (AET) in Eastie. However, many residents feel the design could have a big impact on commuters.

Traffic at the Sumner Tunnel Toll Plaza. MassDOT tweaked its original design to their proposed changes to the toll plaza as the state moves to implement All Electronic Tolling (AET) in Eastie. However, many residents feel the design could have a big impact on commuters.

In fact, many at Monday night’s meeting expressed concerns that the two lanes would be more dangerous because cars on the highway will be traveling at increased speeds and will not have to slow for a toll booth or local traffic trying to enter the Sumner.

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