MassDOT releases research detailing congestion impacts and developments

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The Massachusetts Division of Transportation (MassDOT) launched a data-driven report on congestion with suggestions to make commutes by street and transit extra dependable, accessible and predictable whereas decreasing greenhouse gasoline emissions.

The report quantifies ranges of congestion and up to date developments for particular places, analyzes the issue’s causes and recommends options starting from transit enhancements to extra telecommuting to conducting a feasibility research of congestion pricing utilizing managed lanes. The suggestions are focused to state and municipal authorities, the non-public sector and different stakeholders.

As a part of efforts to supply staff with extra choices for commuting, MassDOT additionally introduced it’s accepting purposes for a brand new grant program to help modern applications akin to first-last-mile van connections, partnerships between municipalities or employers with regional transit authorities, and vanpools and carpools, which is able to assist enhance shared ridership choices.

The administration will even create a brand new grant program for municipalities to supply technical help so cities and cities can develop their very own transportation and administration plans.

“Visitors and congestion are a nuisance for too many residents, and this report supplies our administration with strong knowledge to assist us make knowledgeable choices on construct on our efforts to sort out the commonwealth’s congestion points,” stated Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who directed MassDOT in August 2018 to start a complete evaluation of when, the place and why roadway congestion is worsening in Massachusetts. “From this report, we now have recognized a number of methods to deal with congestion by increasing capability on our transit system, including extra housing, and exploring managed lanes to assist make folks’s commutes be extra dependable. We look ahead to working with the Legislature, native authorities and the non-public sector to develop options to scale back the variability in folks’s commutes.”

Key suggestions

The next suggestions handle a number of necessary coverage priorities – reliability, accessibility, sustainability and fairness:

• Tackle native and regional bottlenecks the place possible;

• Actively handle state and native roadway operations;

• Reinvent bus transit at each the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and regional transit authorities;

• Improve MBTA capability and ridership;

• Work with employers to offer commuters extra choices, together with offering grants for employers, transit administration associations, regional transit authorities and others to supply modern workforce transit choices to workers;

• Create infrastructure to help shared journey modes;

• Improve distant work and telecommuting;

• Produce extra inexpensive housing, particularly close to transit;

• Encourage development in much less congested Gateway Cities; and

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• Examine the feasibility of congestion pricing mechanisms that make sense for Massachusetts, notably “managed lanes.”

“We can not eradicate congestion totally, however we will higher handle it to make journeys extra dependable and predictable,” stated Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “That features new initiatives in addition to a larger emphasis on practices already in use, akin to Visitors Administration and Programs Operations (TSMO) practices which were utilized in Massachusetts for years. Shifting ahead, managing roadways by way of a TSMO framework should turn into as a lot part of MassDOT’s DNA as fixing potholes and plowing snow. Advancing, increasing, and institutionalizing these sorts of options will assist restrict the consequences of crashes, work zones and climate on already prolonged commutes.”

The report takes a broad strategy to potential congestion reduction options, specializing in methods to enhance entry to jobs for staff inside an inexpensive period of time, reasonably than simply on growing speeds on congested roadways. Because the report states, “Visitors congestion successfully shrinks the variety of communities with good car entry to jobs and excessive housing prices restrict who can afford to dwell in these high-access communities. For that reason, the amount and site of housing is a giant a part of the congestion equation. If the commonwealth strives to maximise affordable and handy entry to jobs and different alternatives for its residents, growing the provision and affordability of housing in high-access areas is a crucial issue to attain that purpose.”

The report additionally evaluated totally different strategies of congestion pricing utilizing Massachusetts visitors knowledge and recognized “managed lanes” as an strategy for additional research:

• Managed lanes: MassDOT will examine the feasibility of implementing “managed lanes” on a number of highways in Better Boston. Managed lanes are a system of parallel lanes on a street, with a number of lanes for drivers that stay free to make use of whereas a number of lanes require drivers to pay a price, which can be fixed or fluctuate relying on congestion ranges. Managed lanes may be utilized by carpools, buses and vans carrying massive quantities of individuals for no value, permitting extra folks to journey in a quicker lane with much less congestion and no congestion charges.

Key findings about congestion

The report describes the places, extent and causes of vehicular congestion. The 5 most extreme occurrences of weekday congestion happen on: I-93 southbound from Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford to McGrath Freeway in Somerville at 7 am, Route 2 eastbound approaching Alewife Station at eight am, I-93 northbound from the Braintree Break up to Neponset Circle at 7 am, Route 2 eastbound approaching Alewife Station at 7 am, and I-93 southbound from Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford to McGrath Freeway in Somerville at eight am.

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Extra knowledge determine a number of corridors within the state with segments which might be congested for greater than ten hours per day. 9 roadway segments every see greater than ten hours per day of congested or extremely congested situations: Route 1A southbound in Revere, American Legion Freeway, (Route 60), in Revere, O’Brien and McGrath Highways northbound from Leverett Circle to Mystic Valley Parkway, the Fellsway and Fundamental Road southbound from Studying to Medford, the Sagamore Bridge, Recent Pond Parkway in Cambridge, and I-93, (from Boston to New Hampshire, working alongside the Central Artery portion, the Southeast Expressway phase and a phase that partially carries the I-95/128 designation.)

One concern is the unfold of congestion towards the outer reaches of the Boston metropolitan space from the world inside I-95/128 to the world extending out to I-495 together with radial roadways akin to Route three, Route 24 and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Whereas congestion is just not as persistently extreme exterior of Better Boston, it’s nonetheless a supply of frustration for drivers who journey alongside Route 9, Route 7, I-91, I-290, or some western parts of the Massachusetts Turnpike throughout peak commuting durations.

Significance of extra native visitors knowledge

The report acknowledges the boundaries of knowledge to seize the complete impact of congestion on native and different roads. “Whereas anecdotal and experiential info means that native roads are additionally important websites of congestion, there’s merely no authoritative knowledge reported about them,” the research explains.

Such native congestion is slowing down MBTA buses, which must see ridership enhance as a part of addressing the area’s congestion issues. The research notes that “the MBTA now assumes that its buses will journey at their slowest speeds since knowledge has been out there,” an assumed velocity of 11.5 miles per hour. To deal with this drawback, the research requires extra partnerships between the MBTA and regional transit authorities and cities and cities to create bus precedence infrastructure akin to bus lanes and transit sign precedence.

Constructing on work already underway

The report explains MassDOT and the Baker-Polito Administration “haven’t waited to finish this report with a view to start implementing options to deal with congestion.” The suggestions construct on work already underway to deal with native and regional congestion bottlenecks and enhance public transportation supplied by regional transit authorities and develop transit ridership all through the commonwealth.

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The Baker-Polito Administration’s Housing Alternative Initiative is spurring housing manufacturing whereas the Transformative Improvement Initiative is accelerating financial development in Gateway Cities. Throughout businesses, the administration continues to advance transit-oriented growth tasks throughout the commonwealth to encourage folks to dwell nearer to transit choices. Up to now, these tasks embody 1,425 housing items, 481 of that are inexpensive items, together with over 660,000 toes of economic area. There are a further seventeen tasks within the works that can produce 2,200 housing items, together with 650 inexpensive items and virtually three million toes of economic area.

The report additionally states that the administration seems ahead to working with colleagues within the Legislature to advance three items of laws that handle the report’s suggestions:

• Housing Alternative laws that may allow cities and cities to undertake sure zoning greatest practices associated to housing growth by a easy majority vote, reasonably than the present two-thirds supermajority.

• An Act Relative to Public Safety and Transparency by Transportation Community Corporations that may permit for added knowledge to be collected from TNCs and supplied to municipalities, which is able to assist them make higher knowledgeable transportation planning choices.

• An Act Authorizing and Accelerating Transportation funding, an $18 billion transportation bond invoice filed on July 25 by the Baker-Polito Administration to proceed the administration’s efforts to modernize and enhance the reliability of the Commonwealth’s transportation system. The bond invoice consists of $50 million for a brand new native bottleneck program to fund confirmed, comparatively low-cost investments to deal with native congestion hotspots, a tax credit score for employers for telecommuting and $50 million for a Transit Infrastructure Partnership Program with grants enabling transit authorities and municipalities to work collectively to supply bus lanes, transit sign precedence and different infrastructure to maintain buses shifting.

The report’s conclusion urges stakeholders take motion now – to “double down on initiatives already underway and examine options not but tried, together with ‘managed lanes’ that will permit Massachusetts to make use of congestion pricing in a way that addresses the intense fairness points that may come up when attempting to regulate congestion by making drivers pay extra.” Because the report notes, “A spread of things created at this time’s rising congestion drawback. Solely an equally wide selection of actions by private and non-private gamers alike can repair it.”

 

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