May 23, 2017
Secretary Stephanie Pollack
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
Dear Secretary Pollack:
I write to express my extreme frustration and disappointment with the implementation of the new traffic patterns at the Sumner Toll Plaza. This has become a major quality of life issue for East Boston residents who are now dealing with a significant increase in traffic on neighborhood streets causing much longer commutes as well as elevated levels of pollution. The results have been unacceptable and the inequity for East Boston residents must be addressed swiftly.
During the planning of the redesign, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials ensured the East Boston community that the new traffic patterns would result in a safer, smoother, and more efficient commute through the tunnel. Instead of improving traffic flow, the new design has created traffic backups unseen in East Boston since the pre-Ted Williams Tunnel days. In fact, the current traffic is even worse. Beyond the impact on commuters, this increase in neighborhood and tunnel traffic has dangerous implications for emergency vehicles that cannot get through the gridlock.
In the redesign, traffic impacts to the community were not fully considered. On a daily basis, residential streets in East Boston are entirely congested, including streets that never experienced traffic before. While the transition to all-electronic tolls appears to have improved traffic flow in other areas throughout the State, this particular redesign has resulted in a tremendous step backwards. Simply put, East Boston residents deserve better.
I recognize the ongoing efforts of MassDOT and the Boston Transportation Department to address this issue. However, it has now been over two weeks since the new traffic patterns went into effect and there has been no improvement. In fact, it seems that traffic gets worse by the day. I know that countless engineers from both the City and State are closely monitoring the situation and actively looking for modifications that will improve the flow of traffic. I strongly urge these changes to be put into place immediately. Any such changes must prioritize East Boston residents who deal with the full brunt of the congestion from North Shore drivers trying to get into Downtown Boston, particularly during the morning commute.
East Boston residents face a number of transportation equity issues due, in part, to our geographic separation from the rest of the City. The Sumner Tunnel serves as a vital connection between our neighborhood, Downtown, Storrow Drive, and I-93 North. MassDOT must acknowledge the deficiencies of the current pattern and utilize the significant resources at its disposal to fix this issue expeditiously.
Adrian C. Madaro