State Advisory: Department of Transportation Issues Warning to Plan Ahead

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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising the public to plan ahead for travel during the upcoming holiday season from Dec. 20 through Jan. 2, to drive sober and to take note of holiday schedules for the MBTA, use of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy, and for visiting Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) customer service center locations.

AAA is forecasting a record-breaking holiday travel season this year, with 2.45 million Massachusetts residents expected to be on the move. In a public statement, AAA said 2.1 million of these travelers are expected to travel by motor vehicle.  The highest volume of traffic in the Boston area, according to AAA, is expected to be Wednesday, December 19, between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. With so many people on the roads, AAA said it expects to be responding to a high number of calls about dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.

MassDOT is taking several steps to ensure safe and reliable travel for all citizens who utilize transportation systems across the Commonwealth and will be shutting down scheduled roadway construction for the holiday travel period between 12 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21, and the start of business on Wednesday, Dec. 26, as well as between 5 a.m., Friday, Dec. 28, and the start of business on Wednesday, Jan. 2 per MassDOT’s long-standing policy of not scheduling work during high volume travel periods.

 The I-93 HOV lane will operate on an adjusted schedule between Thursday, Dec. 20 and Tuesday, Jan. 1. On the Thursdays of Dec. 20 and 27, the afternoon HOV lane will open one hour early at 2 p.m. and remain open until 8 p.m., with the morning HOV lane operating on a regular 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. schedule. On the Fridays of Dec. 21 and 30, the afternoon HOV lane will open two hours early at 1 p.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. with the morning HOV lane operating on a regular schedule. On Dec. 24, 25, and 31, the HOV lane will be closed. On Wednesday, Dec. 26, the HOV lane will operate on a regular schedule. The HOV lane will resume normal operations on Jan. 1.

 The Sumner Tunnel Swing Lane will operate on an adjusted schedule Dec. 20, through Jan. 2. The swing lane will open one hour early, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, and remain open until 8 p.m. On Friday, Dec. 21, the swing lane will open at 1 p.m. and stay open through the weekend and holiday until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26. On Thursday, Dec. 27, the swing lane will be open from 2 to 8 p.m. On Friday, Dec. 28, the swing lane will open at 1 p.m. and remain open until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The swing lane will then resume normal operations.

Air travel is expected to be at its highest level in 15 years, according to the AAA website, with 6.7 million customers taking to the skies. Most holiday time flights were booked between Oct. 26 and Nov. 27.

For MBTA schedules for the next two weeks, please visit: mbta.com.

 RMV customer service locations will be closed on the state holiday of Tuesday, December 25, and Tuesday, Jan. 1. The Registry reminds motorists to “Skip the Line, Go Online” and visit mass.gov/RMV to begin or complete many license and registration transactions.  In addition, AAA members now have the opportunity to conduct many RMV transactions at AAA branch office locations in Massachusetts.

Free coffee will be served at more than a dozen service plazas along state highways from 10 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 25, through 5 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 26, and from 10 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, through 5 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 1. These locations include service plazas along I-90 plus plazas along Route 3 in Plymouth, Route 128 in Beverly, Route 128/I-95 in Newton and Lexington, Route 6 in Barnstable, and the Route 24 northbound and southbound plazas.

 Members of the public are encouraged to consider traveling to destinations this holiday season by using public transportation.  If driving, individuals are urged to plan ahead, allow extra time for travel, and take advantage of the many communication tools now available to help trips go smoothly.

 For more information on traffic conditions, travelers are encouraged to:

  •  Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
  • Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
  • Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
  • Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation wishes all members of the public a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

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