The next phase of construction on the Commonwealth Avenue bridge will undoubtedly lead to some traffic headaches for motorists beginning later this week.
But the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s massive overhaul project, it turns out, won’t be a complete catastrophe for all commuters involved.
“While there will be significant impacts to roadway travel, and diversions for public transit, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling throughout the local area will be minimally impacted,” according to a statement from MassDOT spokesman Patrick Marvin.
Beginning Thursday, July 26, MassDOT will begin the process of replacing the westbound side of the Comm. Ave. Bridge, the next piece of a project that will upgrade Boston’s transportation infrastructure. Construction is expected to last through Aug. 11, officials said. The eastbound side was replaced last year.
During that time, Comm. Ave. will shutdown to private vehicles between St. Paul and St. Mary’s streets. Portions of Comm. Ave. between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner will also be closed, except for local traffic. The Boston University Bridge, which connects to Comm. Ave., will be off-limits to vehicles.
As for public transit, the MBTA Green Line’s B Line branch will be affected, with shuttle buses running back and forth in the area. Lastly, drivers who frequent the Mass. Pike can expect some lane reductions and ramp closures. Full details can be found on MassDOT’s website.
With diversions and road closures in mind, MassDOT officials are banking on some commuters walking and biking to get around.
Both pedestrians and bicyclists will still have access across the Comm. Ave. bridge, on the eastbound side, throughout construction, officials said. They can also access the Boston University Bridge, with a slight diversion when going across.
“This is a great opportunity to walk or ride to points throughout this area,” Marvin, the MassDOT spokesman, said in a statement. “We are encouraging members of the public to utilize active transportation including bicycling and walking in order to reduce congestion and avoid delays during our intensive construction operations.”
For a limited time, according to the department, Blue Bikes — formerly known as Hubway — is dropping their “Single Trip Pass” to $1 during the construction timeframe to get more people on two wheels. An additional Blue Bikes station is even being added near the project.
Galen Mook, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said while the group is encouraged by MassDOT’s “commitment to keep this crucial route open to cyclists and pedestrians,” the organization still has some concerns, including how construction traffic will impact surrounding roads.
“We’re seeing a lot of oversized trucks use Brighton Ave. and Harvard Ave. to get to [and] from the site,” Mook said in a statement. “And the actual construction zone is also a mess of steel plates, potholes, and uneven pavement, so cyclists will need to be extra cautious and ride slowly to navigate safely.”
Of course, it isn’t all bad, he added.
“This is a great excuse to try out cycling as part of a multimodal approach to getting around Boston,” Mook said.