Residents urged to ‘ditch the drive’ after Sumner Tunnel closure brings commutes to crawl

BOSTON — Massachusetts residents are being urged to “ditch the drive” in favor of free public transit after day 1 of the Sumner Tunnel closure brought the afternoon and evening commutes to a crawl in and around Boston on Wednesday.

Traffic is expected to be especially terrible going to and from Logan Airport during the nearly two-month shutdown, so much so that Massport is encouraging people to add an additional two hours of travel time for their airport commutes.

Boston 25 sent out a crew to experience the evening traffic first-hand, and it was an absolute nightmare, taking nearly 40 minutes to travel just a few miles from Logan Airport to Somerville.

That’s because, without the Sumner tunnel, traffic is funneled through Revere or south through the Ted Williams tunnel.

The tunnel will remain closed for the next eight weeks as crews work to replace the ceiling, install a new electric system and communications system, and do other upgrades. When all is said and done, drivers will notice a bigger, brighter tunnel thanks to an elevated ceiling and a new lighting system.

The nearly 90-year-old tunnel was the first traffic tunnel built in Massachusetts and is among the oldest in the nation.

During the closure from July 5 through August 31, traffic is expected to be snarled in and around Boston. MassDOT officials said 40,000 vehicles pass through the tunnel every day, and now all those drivers will have to find another route.

MassDOT has come up with a plan of alternative travel options to address travel impacts and provide cost-effective alternative transportation options for residents and visitors during the two-month shutdown of the tunnel.

The plan includes free trips on the MBTA Blue Line during the tunnel’s closure, free and reduced-cost water ferry options, reduced Commuter Rail fares for riders, reduced parking costs at MBTA and Commuter Rail parking lots and garages, discounted tolls for residents, and additional options for travelers to and from Logan Airport.

The MBTA is also adding a ferry service between Lynn and Central Wharf in Boston.

cting Governor Kim Driscoll, Transportation Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca, State Senator Lydia Edwards, and State Representative Adrian Madaro plan to take the Blue Line to work Thursday to raise awareness about the alternative travel options available to help people “ditch the drive.”

Details on transportation alternatives are:

MBTA Blue Line and Parking

  • The entire Blue Line in both directions will be free to riders. Gates will be open at all Blue Line stations from Wonderland to Bowdoin.
  • An additional train will be added to the Blue Line in the midday period to help support more riders riding the line.
  • All MBTA parking lots and garages on the Blue Line will be reduced to $2/day. Additional free parking is available near Wood Island Station.
  • Visit mbta.com/Sumner for additional information.

Discounted Tolls

  • Discounted tolls will be provided for the Tobin Bridge and Ted Williams Tunnel for those registered in the Resident Discount Program.
  • Real-Time Traffic monitoring will be available at 13 local intersections.

East Boston Ferry

  • The East Boston ferry will be free during the tunnel’s closure.
  • The East Boston ferry service project operates between East Boston at Lewis Mall and the downtown Boston area at Long Wharf. East Boston ferry service schedules are available online with all ferry service schedules available at mbta.com/ferry.


Commuter Rail and Parking

  • Zone 1A ($2.40) fares from Salem and Swampscott Commuter Rail. Parking at Salem and Swampscott is just $2 per day.
  • Free parking at lots north of Salem, including Beverly, Gloucester, Hamilton/Wenham, Newburyport, North Beverly, Monserrat, Rowley, and West Gloucester.
  • Blue Line benefits also apply. Travelers are encouraged to utilize the Wonderland Station parking lot if coming from the North Shore.

Lynn Ferry

  • The Lynn Ferry will operate between the Blossom St. dock in Lynn to Central Wharf in Boston (near Aquarium).
  • Free parking at the City of Lynn-owned lot will be available near the Blossom St. dock. Bicycles are allowed on the ferry.
  • Riders may use a Zone 1A fare ($2.40).
  • The Lynn Ferry will operate five days/week on weekdays only, with 10 trips per day. Schedules are being finalized and will be released as soon as they’re available.


Logan Express

  • There will be a 25% discount when you buy tickets online, and children under 17 ride free.
  • Adding additional parking capacity at Braintree Logan Express.
  • MBTA Silver Line (SL1 & SL3) buses can use the I-90 EB Emergency Ramp.
  • “Skip the Security Line” at Logan will be available for all water transportation users (must show ticket).
  • Added stop at Logan Airport by the Winthrop Ferry.

“I’m pleased that together with MassDOT, the MBTA is able to offer free Blue Line service to those impacted by the Sumner Tunnel closure this summer,” said MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng. “The MBTA has been working hard to reduce travel times on the Blue Line in anticipation of this project. We have the capacity needed on the Blue Line to serve our existing and new customers on this line, and I encourage those who can to take advantage of this free service in July and August.”

MassDOT is also working with public safety agencies and Boston EMS to support safety during the closure. There will be two dedicated ambulances for East Boston, two rotating ambulances to support the day shift, two rotating ambulances to support the evening shift, and one rotating ambulance to support the overnight shift.

The period between July 5 and Labor Day historically has the lowest volume of traffic. A second full closure of the Sumner Tunnel will then occur in the summer of 2024.

For additional details on the Sumner Tunnel, and all alternative travel options, click here.

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