People who enjoy being guinea pigs should drive on the turnpike through Allston this weekend

MassDOT announces that it's narrowing the turnpike to two lanes in each direction this weekend from where the Allston tolls used to be to the Beacon Street overpass as a test of "traffic logistics" for the major changes that will start in July as contractors begin to replace the deteriorating Commonwealth Avenue bridge.

The restrictions start 11:59 p.m. on Friday and go through 5 a.m. Monday.

The bridge replacement will mean all sorts of fun changes for motorists and Worcester Line, Green Line and Lake Shore Limited passengers over the next couple of years (state officials say they're doing an "accelerated" project for what would normally be four to five years of work).

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"Over the next couple years"

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They're moving traffic to one side of the Pike only for about 2 weeks in early August. They're closing the BU Bridge and some of Commonwealth Ave for another few days outside of that. The Commuter Rail is only effected on weekends during that window.

Then, it's all done for now. The eastbound Commonwealth Ave bridge and connectors will be replaced during that time.

Next year about the same time, they'll do it all over again for the remainder of the bridge (the westbound Comm Ave bridge and connectors). It is slated to take the same amount of time.

That's it. All done.

Pedestrians, buses (on Comm Ave), and bikes won't even be effected on any of the closures. The worst is going to be two weeks of sheer hell on the Pike (and subsequently likely on Storrow too as a result). The biggest impact on commuting routes will be felt by Express buses that use the Pike.

Not exactly

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The biggest impact on commuting will be felt by all those Green Line riders that will now have to transfer to shuttle buses. And it will be interesting to see how much the incidence of Storrowings and near-Storrowings increases from people trying to bypass the Pike backups.

All five of them

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all those Green Line riders that will now have to transfer to shuttle buses

We are talking late summer, when Boston is one massive "out of office" reply and there's nobody around to inconvenience.

"Nobody"?

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I and my fellow commuters beg to differ. I wish there were only five of us.

p.s. you idjit.

Impact?

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The buses won't be hindered by traffic, the trains will be able to short-turn at Packard's Corner and head back out and the bus riders will disembark at Kenmore and catch any B,C,D train inbound the rest of the way instead of being stuck on their crammed-in B train.

It can't be any worse than the alternative: normal B Line service.

Depends on how many trains the T decides to run

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between BC and Packard's Corner. And how many shuttle buses the T decides to run between Packard's Corner and Kenmore. And if the T decides to run C line service at full strength - which they are failing at now.

Hopefully I'm proven wrong, but given the T's typical experience with running the Green Line, this has the potential to be fraught with problems.

Really?

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The buses won't be hindered by traffic

No, they'll just be hindered by the road being down to a single lane...which, if it actually is nothing but buses? Maybe not such a big deal, but I'm skeptical.

Biggest impact

The biggest impact are the suckers on Amtrak's Lakeshore line who have to be bussed from Albany because the tracks a mile out are closed.

Couldn't they just stop at the new Boston Landing and be bussed from there? (Not an Amtrak stop but throw them a bone.)

I'm guessing a lack of bag checking facilities

The LSL allows for bags to be checked on the trains at certain stops - Albany is one such stop on it's run. The last stop before Boston that has such facilities is Springfield, but I'm guessing since they have to split the train at Albany anyway they might feel it's easier to run the shuttle from there.

Ridership on the Lake Shore

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Ridership on the Lake Shore Limited across Massachusetts is small, and it's got to be a small fraction of those people who check bags. So why not just issue an alert saying no checked bags during this period? They can block off a few seats near the door for people to pile large bags.

It's probably against Amtrak

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It's probably against Amtrak policy to buss customers.

I'd think that Worcester has bag check facilities.

I suspect it's a matter of either

(a) Albany being a crew change-off point for that route (and Boston being the other point), so it might make more sense to simply bus the whole run instead of improvising crew movements for a partial leg

or

(b) if Amtrak owns some of the track between here and Albany, maybe they figure on taking advantage of this service disruption by doing a lot of rail/tie replacement during that period.

Exit 17

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On the pike to exit into Watertown to access Soldiers Field/Storrow, Washington st etc onto the circle of death will back up for miles. It will be utter madness. Glorious.

I've never heard of

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I've never heard of intentionally causing a traffic jam to study how bad it will be when they do the actual closure. Is this an approved technique?

Yes. It's an increasingly common practice

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in traffic engineering/temporary traffic control. It's normally reserved for larger projects that potentially have a significant impact on traffic flow, and has been an effective tool in identifying both problems and easy fixes to address them.

Yes

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Yes
They've got that two week window to accomplish all of the Demolition and construction mark. They can't use up 24 to 48 hours at the beginning of it working all the wrinkles out of the traffic set up.

Okay

Now I understand why I'm starting to see "COMM AVE DETOUR" signs going up at Harvard and Brighton, covered in dark film ready to be unfurled for the actual closures.

Devil in the details

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How exactly will this work? Are they going to set up zipper-type merges with the two left lanes and the two right lanes? Or are they going to follow the genius DOT approach of one "right lane ends" followed by another "right lane ends"?

Given how the average driver around here

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has trouble figuring out HAWK signals and flashing yellow arrows, I don't think introducing a zipper merge on the Pike would be a good idea.

Especially given how the remaining two lanes will shift immediately after the merge.

Even worse

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Based on the project image, the switchover is at the old tollbooth location WEST of the EB on/WB off ramps for A-B.

While all of the traffic is on the eastbound lanes, one of the four lanes comes from the A-B on-ramp. This means that EB Pike traffic will likely need to be merged down to a single lane at the toll plaza and then open back into 2 lanes once the on-ramp merges to the road as the right lane. Good for the on-ramp, bad for the Pike.

When it's on the westbound lanes, the off-ramp will occur before the EB lanes are diverted back across the divider. So, again, all WB traffic will funnel into 1 lane briefly before opening back up into 3 then 4 after the WB on-ramp.

So, when both directions are on EB Pike means eastbound traffic goes 4-3-1-2-4 (lanes wide).
Both directions on WB Pike means westbound traffic goes 4-2-1-3-4 (lanes wide).

Unless their visuals are wrong and the crossover points are east of the on/off ramps...otherwise yikes.

*I go through there nearly every day and I can't recall where the movable divider starts/ends for the life of me.

I think the crossover runs

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I think the crossover runs between a point and just east of the old toll plaza and Beacon Street overpass.

I have it on reliable authority

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that the westerly crossover will indeed run through the area of the old toll plaza, as the MassDOT materials depict. During construction, there will be no access from I-90 westbound to either Cambridge Street or the U-Turn. Traffic will continue to be able to access I-90 eastbound from Cambridge Street, but will be using a different routing than the current slip ramp just before the viaduct.

Some of the publicity

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Some of the publicity material describes the onramp and offramp closures as intermittent. In another place, it says the WB offramp will be closed throughout the period of the WB closure (which strikes me as more than "intermittent").

If the west end of the "zipper" is where I thought (just east of the old mainline toll plaza), then the ramp closure makes sense - that's west of the viaduct and the exit starts on the viaduct.

It's interesting that the detours go all the way out to exit 16. Exit 17 would be much shorter, but I suppose that circle with all its intersecting streets, signals, and overlapping traffic would jam up (worse than normal) quite easily. Going out to exit 16 is longer but they probably have much more control of the ramps there and only a little crossing traffic - things will keep flowing.

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/HighlightedProjects/CommAv...

Ramp closures

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The ramp closures are only during the periods that the traffic is on one side of the divider or the other.

When traffic is fully on the EB Pike, the EB on-ramps will be open, but the WB off-ramps will be closed (and detours go all the way to 16 ( http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/HighlightedProjects/CommAv... ). How many locals are gonna use 17 though in the Watertown Circle of Death...oh god...the horror...the horror...

When traffic is fully on the WB Pike, the EB on-ramps will close (and all of A-B will go on Storrow instead?...yikes!). The WB off-ramps will be open (but the turn-around should remain shut). The WB on-ramps will never close as they enter past the old toll booths.

So, based on that, unless they're going to re-line the lanes to take advantage of some of the shoulder or pave something, there may actually be a section of each direction that goes down to 1 lane briefly before opening back up again?

where all the drivers are below average

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If drivers can't figure out a brand new type of traffic light, the problem is with the people who designed the sign or light, not the drivers.

Gonna be tough

at 6pm Saturday traffic was backed up to the Everett st overpass - so i can imagine what a rush hour might look like....