four seasons Boston

Thanks to the viral nature of “bad news”, even non-travelers know that this has been one of the worst summers in history for air passengers.

The travails have ranged from airport employee and pilot shortages to summer storms, and by now, passengers feel lucky if they simply arrive into their destination on the day they’re supposed to. Forget about “on time” — that’s luxury.

But it could be worse: You could be in Boston, where they have all of the problems above, but have gotten picked up an additional one: It’s getting increasingly difficult even to get to the airport.

Boston Transportation Gets Worse

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to drive in Boston knows that the road map resembles a giant bowl of spaghetti. Without the standard grid pattern, drivers have to negotiate a mix of one-way streets, random turns and, of course, other drivers.

But — the tunnels to the airport are generally reliable.

Getting to the airport has never been easy, and the smart passengers use public transportation. The MBTA, or “T,” as the locals call it, isn’t the most reliable subway in the world, but it usually gets the job done.

Sadly for Boston, this summer seems to have a lot of exceptions.

The Sumner Tunnel Weekend Shutdown

Depending on where they are going, drivers typically take the Sumner or Ted Williams tunnels when leaving Boston’s Logan Airport.

The Sumner, which was built almost 100 years ago, is the most familiar, taking passengers from the airport under the harbor and into the city.

Its twin, the Callahan, leads from the city to the airport, and while every Bostonian knows that both tunnels exist, they can rarely remember which goes which ways. They’re both integral to traffic in the city.

So it was major news in Boston when the city announced that it would be shutting the Sumner on weekends through May, 2023, for renovations. And it gets worse: The tunnel will also be closed through the entirety of next summer, followed by weekends again, starting in the fall.

Instead of heading directly into the city on one road, drivers will be forced to navigate the streets of East Boston to make their way downtown, adding as much as 30 minutes to the trip. Locals aren’t pleased, either, since East Boston has been struggling to maintain its identity as other areas gentrify.

On the plus side, you’ll go right by Santarpio’s, so you’ll at least be able to dash out of your car for the city’s best pizza while stuck in a traffic jam.

Instead of driving, you may want to use public transportation. Except…

Boston Shuts The MBTA’s Orange Line for a Month

After a series of high profile mechanical incidents, Boston announced that it was going to take the drastic step of shutting down Boston’s Orange Line subway, one of the four major train lines in the city (along with the Silver Line, a bus line), for renovations.

Construction will take a month and has thrown the city into chaos, affecting tens of thousands or residents who relied on it to get to work. The T is suggesting that residents look for other methods of transportation, such as shuttle buses or even bicycles to make their way in, but they’re an inadequate substitute for the subway.

If you’re trying to get to or from the airport, you’ll be affected, also.

The Blue and Silver lines are the trains that go to Logan, so Orange Line passengers would normally have to switch to one of those. The newly added stress on public transportation means there will likely be delays, whether that’s corralling passengers onto crowded trains or trying to make the awkward transition from shuttle to subway.

Give yourself some extra time in either direction. So for those of you heading to or from Boston this summer, good luck with your efforts.

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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3 Comments

  1. Just drove from RI for flight out and had no issues. 8/10. Prepaid for parking and left really early. Hours early. Nothing worse than stuck in traffic or missing your flight because you cut it too close. The time wasted waiting is time saved in my mind on stressing and the nightmare of a missed flight. Be proactive. Love Boston!

  2. North and west of downtown Boston, it might be easier and faster to fly into Manchester NH and drive home.

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