MBTA Silver Line Buses Will Start Using Emergency Ramp to Ted Williams Tunnel Later This Year to Reduce Traffic
Boston, MA– Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials announced Monday that they would start allowing Silver Line buses access to the emergency ramp leading to the Ted Williams Tunnel in an attempt to reduce tunnel traffic. Testing will begin this summer, and the traffic plan could be fully implemented by this time next year.
Traffic in the Ted Williams Tunnel has reached an all-time high. In addition to several legislative proposals that seek to reduce traffic, transportation officials are pursuing other ideas to manage the congestion. The MBTA’s plan to start using the emergency ramp was announced Monday.
To start, testing will begin at 3 p.m. during the summer and end at 6 p.m., but only when the traffic is moving at less than 30 miles per hour. If traffic is moving faster than 30 mph, the buses may not be able to pick up speed fast enough to safely merge onto the highway.
Jeffrey Gonneville, the T’s deputy general manager, told riders that using the emergency ramp during congestion hours (3-6 p.m.) will alleviate the built-up traffic stress, and it will cut travel times down by ten to twenty minutes.
Right now, the State Police and other emergency vehicles are the only ones granted access to this ramp. However, allowing the Silver Line buses access to this portion of the transportation system will improve the commutes residents have to endure, and it will not alter emergency vehicles’ commutes.
Ari Ofsevit, a member of the TransitMatters board, has expressed some disagreement with the plan's limitations, namely that the traffic must be 30 mph or below in order for the buses to use the ramp. According to Commonwealth Magazine, Ofsevit said in a recent email, “This 30 mph thing is complete and utter horseshit. I don’t believe a word of it and I’m sure it’s State Police getting in the way. If they can’t let a Silver Line bus down this ramp, they ought to close every other ramp in the state with less than 250 feet of merge distance.” He says there are plenty of other ramps in the state with less than 250 feet of merge space.
The traffic system would eventually be automated, with sensors in place to direct buses according to traffic conditions. It could take a year or more to develop automation.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / JosephBarillari