How to get around during the big Pike-Comm. Ave. bridge project
If you commute to Boston from the west, life will almost certainly get worse over the next couple of weeks.
The next phase of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge project starts Thursday night, with major effects on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the BU Bridge, the Green Line, and Comm. Ave. that ripple across Boston and its suburbs. Even commuter rail riders may notice more crowding, as some car commuters switch to trains to avoid traffic.
Your best bet? Work from home or take a vacation. Just stay far away.
If that’s not an option, here’s how to get around during the disruptions.
On Commonwealth Avenue
What’s happening: The westbound side of the 800-foot section of Comm. Ave. over the turnpike is being replaced. The eastbound half was swapped out last year.
That means a total shutdown of the street to all private cars between St. Paul Street and St. Mary’s Street, and portions of Comm. Ave. between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner will also be closed except for local traffic. Buses and emergency vehicles can still cross the bridge during construction. Note that nearby Carlton Street and University Road will also be closed to vehicle traffic.
When: The road closures begin Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m., and will last more than two weeks, wrapping up Aug. 11 at 5 a.m.
What to do: The extensive detour network around Commonwealth Avenue will send cars through parts of Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge. For those drivers who can switch to biking for the period, the road will still be open in both directions to cyclists and pedestrians.
On the Pike
What’s happening: The eight-lane highway will be reduced to two lanes in each direction during rush hour, to make room for the bridge work overhead. Another lane will be cut during off-peak hours. The reductions will stretch for a little more than a mile, from the Allston Interchange to Beacon Street near Fenway Park.
Also, the eastbound Pike entrance on Cambridge Street in Allston will be closed for the duration, while the off ramp on exit 20 of the westbound side will be closed intermittently.
When: The highway restriction begins Friday night, July 27, at 9 p.m., with the highway scheduled to be fully open in time for the work week on Monday, Aug. 6, at 5 a.m.
What to do: During the week, drivers may want to consider the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line, which runs adjacent to I-90. One problem: On weekends, the work will also require commuter rail shutdowns. Trains will be replaced by shuttle buses on July 28 and 29, and Aug. 4 and 5.
Other options for motorists include Route 2, Memorial Drive, and Soldiers Field Road. But plenty of other drivers are probably thinking of the same options. A navigation app such as Waze can help show which route is the least crowded at a given time.
On the BU Bridge
What’s happening: The major connector between Boston and Cambridge intersects with Comm. Ave. and will be closed to all vehicles. MBTA buses will detour as well, a change from last year when buses were still allowed to use the bridge; those buses will now go over the Mass. Ave. Bridge and into Kenmore Square. Bikers and pedestrians can still use the BU bridge but will be routed through an adjacent parking lot before the bridge meets Comm. Ave.
When: The same time frame as the Comm. Ave. closure: 7 p.m., July 26 to Aug. 11.
What to do: Drivers in need of another north-south route will have to look elsewhere along the Charles River, such as the Anderson Memorial and Western Avenue bridges near Harvard, or the Mass. Ave. Bridge further east. Kendall Square commuters will this year at least have access to the Longfellow Bridge, which fully reopened in May after five years of construction.
On the Green Line
What’s happening: The trolley service will be interrupted and replaced by shuttle buses between Blandford and Babcock streets.
When: From Friday morning, July 27, at the start of MBTA service, until the start of service on Aug. 11.
What to do: Hop on a shuttle bus, which will come every few minutes. Or, if it’s a nice day and you have time to spare, you could walk the stretch of Comm. Ave. The T won’t require passengers to pay fares to board the shuttles, or to reconnect to the Green Line.
Other effects and options
Amtrak service between Boston and Albany will be replaced by shuttle buses on the weekends of July 28 and 29 and Aug. 4 and 5, the same dates buses will replace the commuter rail. The bike rental system Blue Bikes will deploy additional vehicles to Comm. Ave. during the project and is offering discounted trips through the Blue Bikes app. Trips will cost $1.