Getting around the metro Boston area on Marathon Monday has never been easy. But this year, navigating the roads and rails on Patriots Day will be harder than ever before — think, Heartbreak Hill hard.
More roads will be closed and at an earlier hour. Trains will be crowded with an influx of spectators, and fewer stations will be open. Access from the highway to the Back Bay and Newton will be restricted.
The most efficient and stress-free method of getting from Hopkinton to Boston, it seems, may be to put on a pair of running shoes.
“This is always a busy day for us, regardless, and it will be even busier this year,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “We’ll get you where you need to go, but we’re asking that people have patience.”
The need to control larger crowds — organizers say they expect at least 1 million people along the Marathon route — and enhanced security measures are to blame for the additional restrictions and closures, officials have said.
One of the changes for this year’s Marathon is the closure of Newbury Street to cars, turning it into a pedestrian walkway from Arlington Street to Massachusetts Avenue.
“We’re just going to shoo people away,” Police Commissioner William Evans said in February when the Newbury closure was announced.
The only other time in recent years that Newbury Street was closed to cars for the Marathon was in 1996, the centennial running of the race.
And just as they did for the 1996 race, officials will be cordoning off more side streets than in typical years, essentially most of the streets in the Back Bay southeast of Commonwealth Avenue and between Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Street, lasting from about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Howard Kassler, chairman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, said business owners and residents have been patient with the more aggressive security measures and transportation restrictions.
“I haven’t heard one negative voice on this at all,” Kassler said.
“This is a bigger issue than the convenience of people in the Back Bay. This is an issue of public safety,” he added. “Whatever the public safety officials feel is important, we’ll go along with it.”
Officials are urging Marathon spectators to use public transportation to make their way to the route and they’ve scheduled rush-hour levels of service on the Green Line around the time that the race starts and ends.
Copley and Arlington stations will be closed all day Monday, and the South Street, Kent Street, and St. Marys Street stations on the Green Line will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority staff expect that the Green Line will be packed.
“Customers are strongly encouraged to use the Orange Line as an alternative to the Green Line whenever possible,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.
The T offered tips on the best transit-friendly Marathon vantage points along the Green Line: Boston College Station on the B branch, all stops along the C branch, and Kenmore and Hynes Convention Center stations, the two Green Line stops closest to the west side of the finish line.
Back Bay Station, accessible from the Orange Line and the commuter rail, is also a good choice for spectators hoping to reach the ending stretch of the course.
The dozens of bus routes that traverse the Marathon course of the Back Bay will be detoured.
Pesaturo offered a tip to the tens of thousands of people expected to swarm the center of the city: Purchase a round-trip fare in the morning, in anticipation of the crush of people departing the city in the afternoon.
T officials also suggest that spectators hoping to head west to watch the early part of the race take the commuter rail to Framingham Station. It is on the Marathon course, just a few dozen feet away from the parade of passing runners.
For those planning to drive to Hopkinton to be at the starting line, buses will shuttle spectators and runners between Hopkinton State Park and South Street, ferrying participants to Athlete’s Village and spectators to viewing points near the starting line.
In Hopkinton and Ashland, local roads affected by the Marathon are scheduled to officially close to traffic at 7 a.m., according to the Boston Athletic Association.
Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley roads are scheduled to close at 8:30 a.m., while Newton roads will close at 8:45 a.m., and roads in Brookline at 9:15 a.m. However, several local police departments will begin clearing traffic from the roads earlier than the official closing time.
Beginning at 8 a.m., the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will close the Massachusetts Turnpike’s Exit 22, which takes eastbound travelers into the Back Bay. In past years, officials have only closed the section of the exit that leads to Stuart Street near Copley Square, allowing drivers to take the turnoff to Huntington Avenue, near the Prudential Center. But police decided to take extra precaution this year.
“This year, the entire exit will be closed for the duration of the event,” MassDOT spokesman Mike Verseckes said.
Additionally, the agency will close Interstate 95’s Exit 21, which funnels cars onto Route 16 in Newton.
And though the Hubway bike-share system reopened earlier this month — a tempting option for revelers repelled by traffic detours and crowded trains — several stations along the Marathon route have remained shuttered in recent weeks in anticipation of the race. There will be no Hubway station in Brookline at Coolidge Corner or Washington Square; stations in the midst of the action on Boylston Street are also closed.
For spectators attempting the near-impossible — crossing to the other side of the route, dodging the parade of runners — there will be designated crossing points, at least in Brookline. Along Beacon Street, Brookline police officers will help people cross at Dean, Washington, Harvard, St. Paul, and Carlton streets.
But in Newton, Marathon-watchers will have to make sure they stake out a spot early on the correct side of the route before 8:45 a.m.
“When the roads are closed, no one is allowed on the route at all,” said police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker. “You can’t cross over, even if you’re a spectator.”