Thursday, February 18, 2016

South Boston Bypass Road To Close To Non-Commercial Traffic

The South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Committee, made up of the leadership of MassDOT, the City of Boston, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, the Massachusetts Port Authority, and A Better City announced today that the South Boston Bypass Road will close to non-commercial traffic on February 19th at 11:59 pm. 

Following the road closure to non-commercial traffic, the Massachusetts State Police will begin a progressive enforcement campaign to remind motorists of the traffic circulation changes. Motorists can expect to begin seeing message boards at the end of this week alerting them to the restrictions, which go into effect on February 20th.

The South Boston Bypass Road had been opened to all vehicles during a six month pilot program. The pilot program will shift to a second phase of gathering public feedback and analyzing the data.

The six-month pilot program was launched on August 17th and opened the South Boston Bypass Road to non-commercial traffic at all times in the section from Richards Street to West Service Road, and opened the South Boston Bypass Road in the eastbound direction from I-93 to Richards Street during AM peak hours (6:00 am to 10:00 am).  The pilot also opened the I-93 Northbound HOV lane from I-93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel to all cars at all times.  The implementation of the six month pilot was one of the cornerstone achievements on the South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Committee’s list of short-term improvements for the South Boston Waterfront. View the complete South Boston Waterfront Transportation Plan and Progress Report.  

MassDOT worked closely with the Port Area commercial trucking community, which relies on the Bypass Road to sustain their businesses, to monitor the impacts of the trial.  Final approval to open the South Boston Bypass Road was granted by the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) in August, with the understanding that this would be a six-month pilot to assess the impact and viability of opening the road to non-commercial traffic.

Next Steps
The South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Committee has committed to undertaking a public process to review the results of the pilot and determine the next steps for the South Boston Bypass Road.  After a brief transition period, the post-pilot data collection phase will begin and run through March. A public meeting will be held in March to review the results of the pilot and solicit input from the public. The South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Committee will also continue to work with the maritime stakeholders in the area to understand how the pilot impacted their operations.
A formal report documenting the findings of the pilot, including pre, during, and post-pilot conditions will be finalized in the spring of 2016.      

Initial Pilot Study Results
The initial data from the pilot shows that the changes had no adverse impact on traffic mobility in the South Boston Waterfront.   A notable change of volume was in the eastbound direction of the South Boston Bypass Road between Cypher/ Richards streets and West Service Road where volume increased approximately 21% since the start of the pilot, equating to about 100 more vehicles per hour using the road during the AM peak period. The initial data for I-93 Northbound HOV lane from I-93 to the Ted Williams Tunnel also suggested additional improved usage of the road without significant adverse impacts on travel time for motorists.

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