The notorious traffic jams at Logan International Airport are about to get even worse this fall, and Massport officials want everyone to be fairly warned.
The Massachusetts Port Authority is launching a marketing campaign Wednesday to let the public know just how bad the congestion could get as Massport embarks on some $1.3 billion in projects, including expanding Terminal E and redoing the roads between terminals B and C.
The goal is to help the nearly 120,000 people who travel through Logan every day navigate while the airport undergoes its most radical changes in decades. The airport operator is racing to keep up with demand from international carriers and growth among key domestic airlines such as JetBlue and Delta.
Massport dubs the campaign and construction projects, “Logan Forward.”
The agency’s incoming chief executive, Lisa Wieland, said the $200,000-plus campaign will steer passengers, employees, and vendors to information on construction and related detours as they evolve. Massport has created a website to track the changes, and will provide text alerts to travelers. The campaign also involves extensive radio, print, and digital advertising.
The agency is also ramping up efforts to get people to the airport by public transit, namely by increasing its subsidies for the Logan Express buses between the Back Bay and the airport.
Before May, the trip cost $7.50 each way. As of May 1, the fare dropped to $3 from Back Bay Station to the airport, and is now free from the airport to Back Bay. As a result, ridership on those shuttle buses essentially doubled in June from a year ago. (Massport is eyeing new Logan Express locations, too, including a spot near North Station.)
And beginning in October, Massport will require all Uber and Lyft pickups and most of the dropoffs to take place in central garage locations instead of at the terminals. The hope is to curb the number of “deadhead” trips — ride-hailing cars with no passengers — along the airport’s roadways. (About 5 million of the 12 million ride-hailing vehicle trips last year at Logan had no passengers.)
Massport officials anticipate up to 47.6 million passengers a year at Logan by 2024, a 17 percent increase from 2018. Houssam Sleiman, director of capital programs and environmental affairs, said the airport was built in its current configuration for a considerably smaller number.
Sleiman said these projects represent the most construction work happening at Logan at one time in the two-plus decades he has been with Massport: “At the end of the day, when we finish the work in about three years, this airport will be in very good shape for serving passengers.”
Of the “Logan Forward” projects, the roadway rearrangement between terminals B and C has the potential to be the most disruptive to drivers. The goal is to separate the vehicle traffic that flows to the two terminals, to fix the backups as drivers leaving Terminal B overlap those heading to Terminal C.
Work on this $200 million project began earlier this year, but drivers probably won’t see much disruption until this fall. It could take up to three years to complete.
The Terminal E expansion is the most expensive of these projects, totaling $680 million. Massport will add seven gates to the terminal’s 12 existing gates over the next four years, and put a flashy, more modern-looking roof on the terminal. Traffic at the international terminal has soared as more overseas operators choose to land at Logan, sometimes requiring some planes to board or disembark on the tarmac during busy times. The additional gates should significantly reduce the number of outlying jets.
Massport also expects to build a 2,000-car parking garage on a surface lot next to Terminal E, with work starting next spring on the $120 million project and continuing for about two years.
Also on the horizon: an extension to connect terminals B and C to allow passengers to walk from one to the other without going back through the security checkpoints.
That project should be done by the end of 2021. Separately, Massport is reconfiguring the Terminal C curbside canopy and upper deck to improve traffic flow there.