Re: A good moment to count traffic on the Charles River bridges

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Paiewonsky, Luisa (DOT)

Nov 18, 2010, 10:34:48 PM11/18/10

Hi Wendy,
MassDOT is doing traffic counts as part of the project. It appears that people are using I-93 and other designated detour routes, as we expected.
Hope everyone is well - Happy Thanksgiving!

Sent: Wed Nov 17 17:42:32 2010
Subject: A good moment to count traffic on the Charles River bridges

Hello All -
We have been interested to observe the effects of closing inbound traffic on the Craigie Bridge, especially in light of the anticipations of horrific traffic jams everywhere. For example, in our non-scientific observations of traffic on the Longfellow Bridge in evening peak hours, it does not appear the diversions from the Craigie Bridge have had much of an effect. If anything, traffic on the Longfellow seems to move better now that the inbound Craigie is closed.

This is obviously counter-intuitive. We would suggest that the state mobilize its considerable forces and count the traffic on the Charles River Bridges now that the Craigie inbound lanes are closed. The traffic is diverting to other routes, but not apparently to the Longfellow Bridge. Perhaps traffic is changing mode??

There may be insufficient time to mobilize for counting at this moment. But consider that the Craigie Bridge will be under construction in stages between now and April. Surely there would be an appropriate moment in the next 5-6 months to do comprehensive counts of the bridges over the river.

MassDOT members of the Google Group - could you please let us all know what you think of taking some counts of what is happening out there during the closures?
Thank you!


Wendy Landman | WalkBoston
T: 617.367.9255 | F: 617.367.9285 |
Old City Hall | 45 School Street | Boston MA 02108

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Tinlin, Thomas

Nov 19, 2010, 9:06:29 AM11/19/10
Hey Commish, got you message yesterday.  You never sent that letter.  The language in it was acceptable to the City per our law Department so if you were inclined to send it I think that would be great.  Hope your well.  T

From: [] On Behalf Of Paiewonsky, Luisa (DOT)
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: A good moment to count traffic on the Charles River bridges

The substance of this message, including any attachments, may be confidential, legally privileged and/or exempt from disclosure pursuant to Massachusetts law. It is intended solely for the addressee. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from any computer.

Tinlin, Thomas

Nov 19, 2010, 9:08:17 AM11/19/10
OOPS, Sorry for sending all of you my email to Commissioner Paiewonsky.  Tom Tinlin

From: [] On Behalf Of Tinlin, Thomas
Sent: Friday, November 19, 2010 9:06 AM
Subject: RE: A good moment to count traffic on the Charles River bridges

Steven Miller

Nov 19, 2010, 10:00:05 AM11/19/10
Luisa's staff, as well as the folks at the Boston and Cambridge Transportation Departments and the State Police deserve a lot of credit for educating the public about the Craigie Closures and ensuring such a smooth transition to lower car capacity on the river crossings.

We're fortunate to have this "natural experiment" which shows that the addition of the Zakim Bridge adds enough overall capacity for cars entering Boston from the north that even with major reductions in car traffic capacity at the Craigie and BU bridges (and even a bit on the Longfellow) car drivers were able to rapidly adjust and the river basin transportation system was able to handle the situation.  In fact, overall commuting capacity will be significant increasing in coming years as the Green Line Extension gets built -- offsetting possible increases in population or jobs in East Cambridge and beyond.

Perhaps this also shows that slightly reducing the Longfellow's car volume capacity (to one in-bound car lane opening to two lanes at the Charles Circle release) wouldn't have as large an impact (if any at all) as some are predicting!  The exemplary work done by public workers around the Craigie closings gives me confidence that we can handle Longfellow issues as well!


Steven E. Miller
Executive Director, Healthy Weight Initiative, HSPH, Dept. of Nutrition
Board of Directors, LivableStreets Alliance
cell:  617-686-1050
Blog:  "Transportation, Health, and Livable Communities" --

Wendy Landman

Nov 19, 2010, 3:55:19 PM11/19/10
Luisa -
Thanks, and we are very glad to hear that counts are underway. I would echo Steve's comments that maybe this natural experiment is showing us some interesting possibilities, and also showing us how well MassDOT can manage complicated construction impacts on traffic.
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