Metro

Not quite Pikeocalypse, but drivers endure backups as work begins

Traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike was slow and heavy during the morning rush-hour commute but not as gridlocked as officials had predicted as they braced for potentially historic jams caused by the repair of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge in Allston.

Jonathan Gulliver, the state’s acting highway administrator, said the morning commute on the Pike, which has been narrowed to two lanes in each direction in the Allston area, was actually “a little bit better” than expected and did not bring 90-minute delays, as his agency had forecast.

“Traffic so far has been slow and steady,” he said at a press conference, an hour after the Monday morning rush had subsided. “The volume is light for a Monday morning, which is great, that means, I think, a lot of people have taken our advice and have either shifted their travel times or taken a different mode of transportation altogether. But regardless, there is congestion.”

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Gulliver said that by 7:30 a.m. congestion om the Pike had backed up to Newton, which “is further back than it normally is.” But, overall, the level of traffic was beating some of the dire predictions that officials had released a few days ago.

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Gulliver is hoping that people don’t look at Monday morning’s traffic conditions and think it’s OK to return to their usual routine, as construction is scheduled to continue through the week and will continue to affect travel.

Gulliver said motorists who travel on the Pike still should plan ahead and prepare for an additional 90 minutes to their commute time.

“Make sure you understand what you’re getting into for the commute,” he said.

Gulliver is encouraging people to use apps like Waze and check the Commonwealth Avenue bridge replacement project page for updates.

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“I’m hoping people decide to avoid the area,” he said.

The state kicked off the replacement of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge last week. Gulliver said construction crews finished demolition work and cleaned up in time for the railbeds to be clear for Amtrak and commuter rail trains Monday morning.

“That was a huge milestone for us,” Gulliver said.

Construction on the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Construction on the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

Construction workers worked on beams.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Construction workers worked on beams.

Construction workers worked on beams.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Construction workers worked on beams.

A woman boarded a nearly full Peter Pan shuttle bus that's heading east to Blandford Street.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
A woman boarded a nearly full Peter Pan shuttle bus that's heading east to Blandford Street.

Runners from an exercise group made their way across the BU Bridge during construction on the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Runners from an exercise group made their way across the BU Bridge during construction on the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

People from an exercise group worked out on the BU Bridge. The group is taking advantage of the bridge's closure.
Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
People from an exercise group worked out on the BU Bridge. The group is taking advantage of the bridge's closure.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com.