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All Things Travel: 3 Month Callahan Tunnel Closure Will Have Major Impacts

BOSTON (CBS) – The closing of the Callahan Tunnel for three months next January will be a big deal.

Why else would the Massachusetts Department of Transportation make the announcement six months in advance? About 30,000 vehicles use the Callahan Tunnel on weekdays.

A week before the announcement that drew major media coverage, I had noticed something new going on in the Ted Williams Tunnel.

The new tunnel was now stop-and-go inbound from Logan Airport in the morning and outbound from Boston in the afternoon.

Could MassDOT supply me with numbers for the month of May for the last three years?

They came back with figures for the last six years.

They clearly show the effect of the recession and the rebound of traffic in the Ted Williams Tunnel, after the figures went down in 2008 and 2009.

Overall traffic in the Ted Williams Tunnel from May 2008 to May 2013 has risen from 1,085,565 to 1,229,493. That is an increase of almost 144,000 or 4,600 a day.

In that same period the number of vehicles, including taxis, using electronic payment collections has risen by 333,158 for the month of May in the same period. These are people who use the Ted Williams Tunnel on a regular basis.

Currently, the Callahan Tunnel averages 2,300 cars in the peak hours of the evening rush hour. The Callahan crowd will be directed to the Albany Street exit emerging from the O'Neill Tunnel to backtrack to the Ted Williams Tunnel entrance

An interesting stat supplied by MassDOT is that between May 26 and June 13 of this year, there were 45 incidents of breakdowns, accidents or debris affecting Ted Williams Tunnel traffic.

It should also be noted that Logan expects another record year of about two-percent growth and over 30 million people using the airport.

The February school vacation weeks in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are very busy times at the Boston airport.

Business travelers, who make one day trips to cities like New york, Philadelphia and Washington, will have to allow more time getting to the airport.

Major conventions like Yankee Dental and The International Seafood Show bring thousands of people to the city at the time of the year when the Callahan will be closed.

MassDOT and Massport are working together on an outreach program to educate customers.

Here are some suggestions: Run more buses from the four Logan Express sites, make both the Silver Line and the Blue Line free for airline passengers leaving the airport during the tunnel shutdown period, put more tow trucks on heavily used routes and recommend more flexible hours for workers in the Boston area.

The most important factor affecting traffic will be snow, or lack of it. One thing is certain; people will be leaving for work earlier and coming home later.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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