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Pitts Stop: MassDOT Making Adjustments For Sumner Tunnel Delays

EAST BOSTON (CBS) - Toll booths have been coming down around the state with the goal to make your commute faster.

But at the Sumner Tunnel, it's actually making traffic worse.

"The traffic is bumper to bumper to bumper to bumper," East Boston resident Joseph Nazaria told WBZ-TV.

east boston traffic
The gridlock in East Boston. (WBZ-TV)

The new traffic pattern on Route 1A quickly goes from three lanes, to two, to just one. MassDOT put the new patterns in place after removing the old toll booths at the beginning of May.

Related: More Pitts Stop Features

"I have to give myself 45 minutes, plus the hour that I give to my customers to find parking and to deal with the traffic," says Leslie Torres-Arias who works in East Boston.

Videos have surfaced on social media showing the gridlock on neighborhood streets and one resident even drew a cartoon poking fun at the morning commute.

sumner tunnel traffic
(Image credit: Arturo Velasquez)

"There's a lot of tension in the cars. You can see it in people and you can hear it and I don't look forward to it," says East Boston resident Michael Page.

So far, City Councilor Sal LaMattina, State Senator Joe Boncore and State Representative Adrian Madaro have written letters to MassDOT, citing the added pollution and congestion.

"You have cars idling while kids are walking to school breathing in the fumes. What if an ambulance has to go in town through one of the tunnels to take an East Boston resident to a hospital for an emergency? How do they traverse that traffic?" Madaro told WBZ.

east boston traffic
The gridlock in East Boston. (WBZ-TV)

As a result, MassDOT has made two changes: adding an additional swing lane for the evening commute and lengthening traffic signals in the morning.

"DOT and BTD (Boston Transportation Department) have adjusted some light signals to give some increased length of time to try and get that traffic out of the neighborhood streets," says Madaro.

In the meantime, he will wait and hope that these modifications work.

"Cautiously optimistic! That's what I'm going with. There are a lot of eyes on this, cameras everywhere and engineers working on this problem. We won't stop until we make it right for East Boston residents."

MassDOT says they'll continue to monitor traffic in East Boston to determine whether or not they need to make anymore adjustments.

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