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A commute the stuff of nightmares

Some saw morning commutes 7 times longer than average

Cars were gridlocked on Beacon Street in Boston on Tuesday.Charles Krupa/AP

Another onslaught of snow made for extreme gridlock and heavy congestion across the region Tuesday, with some drivers facing morning commutes that were more than seven times longer than usual.

Based on data compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Real Time Traffic Management system, it took some drivers on Interstate 90 almost 35 minutes to get to South Boston heading east from the Boston University bridge.

The average time for that trip is 4.6 minutes, according to data collected between 5 a.m. and noon over the previous 12 Mondays and Tuesdays.

It was also bad on another inbound stretch of I-90, between Newton Corner and the BU bridge. Drivers spent as much as 50 minutes there. The average commute for that area was 7.8 minutes, according to the same state data.


Getting into Boston from Somerville on I-93 took some commuters almost four times the average — 22.8 minutes, rather than the average in previous weeks of 5.8.

MassDOT tracks speed on I-93 and I-90 using detectors that collect bluetooth information from cellphones within vehicles.

Their real-time traffic system uses that data to determine traffic flow based on how long it takes drivers to travel between sensors. The numbers are based on averaging the time taken by all drivers whose trips can be tracked at that moment in time.

In the city of Boston, 492 snow plows were out and 580 staff members were on duty Tuesday afternoon. Despite those efforts, commuters have still been stuck, stranded, and made late by weather-related traffic nightmares.

The city continues its snow removal operations, but officials warn that the delays are likely to persist.

Since the beginning on the snow season, about 150,000 miles have been plowed in Boston, taking nearly 85,000 man-hours. To date, about 53,000 tons of salt have been spread on Boston roads.


Catherine Cloutier can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.