Area Officials Demand Better Mitigation for Sumner Tunnel Toll Project

Local residents got the first taste of what it is going to be like living with the scheduled weekend closures of the Sumner Tunnel for the next 36 weeks that will culminate in a full closure of the tunnel for four months next spring. Gridlock on Saturday and Sunday in Eastie, Chelsea and Revere was horrendous as traffic heading into Boston was rerouted to the Ted Williams Tunnel and Tobin Bridge. This week, Mayor Michelle Wu sent a letter to MassDOT administrators that was signed by Eastie’s elected officials, as well as elected officials in Revere, demanding more meaningful mitigation as the project progresses like a free Blue Line for residents as well as continuing ferry service between Eastie and Boston. “With thirty-six weekend closures and a continuous four-month closure next year,  this project will have major impacts on the people who live and work in the  neighborhoods that rely on the tunnel,” wrote Wu in the letter. “The impact will not only be felt on the  highways, but also on local streets near the Sumner and along alternative routes.  Travel between East Boston and Downtown will be disrupted, and the resulting  congestion is likely to impact emergency response and bus service. In addition to  the transportation impacts, the nature of the construction work is likely to be  disruptive to residents in East Boston and the North End who live near the tunnel.” While Wu said her Administration and her elected colleagues representing the neighborhood appreciate the mitigation measures MassDOT has already committed to–including greening and beautifying the tunnel portals, extending toll discounts for tunnel communities to the Tobin Bridge, and undertaking efforts to minimize noise, vibration, dust, and pests–more needs to be done. “However, we believe that additional steps are needed to  address the impacts of this project on our neighborhoods,” wrote Wu. “Alongside toll discounts, MassDOT should direct project mitigation funds to the MBTA to provide free fares on the Blue Line whenever the tunnel is closed. This will encourage people to use transit rather than drive on alternate routes and will  reduce the financial strain on residents. Fare gates should be opened along the entire line so that residents are not burdened with enrolling in a special pass program.” Wu also called for resuming the ferry service that successfully ran between Eastie and Boston during a two week closure of the Blue Line by the MBTA in May. “This service, which was successfully piloted during the recent Blue Line disruptions, should be continued throughout the upcoming tunnel closures,” she wrote. “We support the $1 million in

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