Your Boston-area commute is already hellish? Why it might take even longer this fall

Your Boston-area commute is already hellish? Why it might take even longer this fall

It’s the time of year when many of us have to get off the beach and back into our cars to return to work and school.

Shifting gears mentally is tough enough, but many commuters wonder why the traffic is getting so much worse each year.

It looks like coming into Boston from the South Shore will continue to be a challenge. Road crews just started digging up a section of Quincy Shore Drive at the same time that work continues on the Red Line of the MBTA after a derailment earlier this summer has caused trains to continue running slower.

Content Continues Below

"They are still being manually signaled through several major portions of the route," explained Steve Poftak, the T's general manager. "It's obviously slower than we'd like.  We're working really hard to get those back.  We expect everything to be back at some point in October."

A concern is more commuters will opt for their cars while the Red Line work continues, causing more congestion on the roads. "I can’t tell people not to take their car to work because they’re going to say the T is not reliable," said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

Overall, traffic is brutal, according to Brockton commuter Kevin Rivera. "Right now, it drives me wild...  because you’re sitting in traffic so long."

A number of construction projects around the region have the potential to make it even worse:

- Lane reductions on the Tobin Bridge
- Replacing the North Washington Street Bridge which connects Charlestown and the North End
- Construction of the Green Line extension through Somerville

It also seems that every community has a utility project of some sort underway, adding to the overwhelming sense of frustration experience by Boston area drivers.

“When people can’t plan for their commute to take the same amount of time each day, it effects work schedules, child care arrangements, school drop offs and pick-ups, and a whole variety of other issues," said Governor Charlie Baker.

Baker recently released a report on congestion and its growing grip on the entire state.

As his administration looks for new solutions, the governor says the region is paying the price for too much success. "A booming economy and a growing population are exacerbating the congestion problem in recent years. More people working means more people on the roads at the same time of day," Baker said.

Mayor Walsh added, “I became mayor in 2014 and since that time, we’ve added about 120,000 new jobs to the Boston economy, about 50,000 new people living the city of Boston.  Our college enrollments have gone up in some cases."

All that means more cars on the road. Boston 25 News checked state records and found the number of registered cars in the state jumped 8.3% between 2012 and 2018.

Numbers like that have a real effect on how people plan their lives.  Drivers told us they’ve had to make real changes in their daily routines, rising even earlier in the morning..

Alan Bast, who commutes from Sharon to Needham daily, said altering his route doesn't seem to help. "I’ve tried going through the back roads, but even the back roads are getting congested," Bass said, adding he's spending "a lot of time on the road."

Another change coming this fall is on the Mass. Pike in Boston. The entrance ramp at Clarendon Street will be permanently closed starting September 3.  According to state officials, this change is being made to improve safety due to visibility problems with the merge.  Drivers should plan on entering the Pike at Arlington Street or Dartmouth Street.