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Morning commute into Boston slowed by snow removal and a rash of crashes

The morning commute was a headache for many today. MBTA riders found 40 bus routes were behind schedule, while drivers had to contend with highway ramps closed by the state Department of Transportation to remove snow and yellow schoolbuses returning to the snow-choked streets of Boston.

Add in a few more challenges — a car fire at the Dascomb Road exit, a broken-down bus on Route 1, and a medical emergency on Route 3 in Braintree where a woman had gone into false labor — and you had a recipe for frustration.

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The Boston Public Schools reopened today for the first time since last Friday. School spokesman Matt Wilder said by 9 a.m. “no major problems’’ were reported as the city shuttled thousands of students from home to school. Wilder said a detailed report on both attendance and timeliness of the school buses is expected later today.

According to its official Twitter account, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation closed exit ramps on Interstate 95 in Foxborough, on Interstate 495 in Middleborough, and on Interstate 93 in Somerville to complete snow removal during the morning commute.

Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin said the commute was painful in some isolated areas, but there were no widespread problems. He urged commuters to ride the MBTA into Boston for the next few days to allow ongoing snow removal efforts to proceed more effectively.

“The commute went as well as we could have expected,’’ he said in a telephone interview, adding that he understood that for some the inbound ride was very slow at times. “We are still in the recovery mode.’’

Hotspots included a parking lot operated by LAZ Parking near the Forest Hills MBTA complex. The sign announcing the lot was full was hidden by a snow bank, and drivers had to back into the street to turn around once they learned the lot was full.

On North Washington Street in downtown, parking spaces were mostly still covered with snow, pushing legally parked cars into the travel lane, Tinlin said. And snow also closed the turn lane from Tremont street onto Melnea Cass Boulevard, causing a backup on Tremont street. A similar problem was reported on Brookline Avenue in the Fenway, Tinlin said.

Using information from police, city workers, and the camera system in the Transportation Management Center, Tinlin said the city today has identified 30 locations that need closer snow removal attention in the coming days.

John R. Ellement can be reached at
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