BOSTON (CBS) - The word is out. The closing of the outbound Callahan Tunnel to Logan Airport and points north at 11 p.m. on December 27 may be the biggest traffic dislocation in the history of the city.
The Callahan Tunnel carries an average of 30,000 vehicles a day. It is expected that 10,000 additional vehicles will be diverted to the Ted Williams Tunnel.
Over 50 community and business meetings have been held to get ready for the closing that is scheduled to last through March 12.
Three main alternate routes being recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation were discussed at a media briefing that took place at the South Boston DOT Operations Center in front of big screens where personnel can monitor developing traffic problems in Greater Boston.
At 10 a.m., before shoppers hit the roads, the major congestion was inbound on Rte. 93 where a six-car accident had taken place an hour earlier in the O'Neill Tunnel. Other roads were clear.
"Make no mistake, this is a significant event," said DOT Secretary Richard Davey. Asked whether he could recall any similar shutdown with such a large traffic impact, he could not remember one.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports
Callahan Tunnel Closure To Begin Friday
"We're confident we can handle the situation," said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola.
The real test for the changing traffic patterns will not take place until Monday January 6 when the holiday weeks end and the student population returns to classes.
Two events planned for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston attract a lot of local traffic to the area. They are the Yankee Dental Congress from January 30 through February 1 which will host about 23,000 attendees and New England Grows attracting 13,000 regional visitors.
Logan Airport will be the number one location impacted by the shutdown. Other than having extra Logan Express buses on standby, Massport is not planning any special promotion of the service. Special flyers with route instructions will start to be distributed at airport locations, including the new rent-a-car facility starting Friday.
WBZ-TV's Jon Keller puts detours to the test
Overnight on Thursday starting at 11 p.m., the southbound lanes on Rte.93 in downtown Boston will be closed while orange and black detour signs are put in place.
Limo companies are already adjusting their rates higher to account for delays reaching Logan.
Jon Keller of WBZ asked whether with the closing of the Ted Williams Tunnel, Frank DePaola would recommend using T.F. Green Airport in Providence.
"I'm not touching that one," replied DePaola replied with a smile.
McCourt Construction Company can earn a $71,000 bonus on their $19 million plus contract for every day they finish early, after approval by the DOT.
Special Tunnel closing reports by Bob Weiss can be heard on WBZ News Radio at 4:45 a.m. and 5:45 a.m., Monday through Friday.
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