New Traffic Patterns Between Exits 22, 23 on 128
The state transportation department has imposed reduced speed limits and lane shifts between the exits at routes 62 and 35 on Route 128 for the next year-and-a-half during reconstruction of the highway bridge.
If you thought the traffic was already bad, it's getting worse – at least for a little while – between that 1-1/4-mile stretch of highway on either side of Route 128 where construction crews are working on new exit ramps and accompanying lanes.
As of this past Friday, the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reduced the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph in the work zone and shifted all traveling lanes onto temporary roadways away from the median dividing the highway to clear the area for demolition. A portion of the bridge near the unused MBTA railroad line and Route 35 will be torn up and replaced.
The new traffic pattern will be in place until the summer of 2012, however, according to MassDOT. It created gridlock on Friday that extended north into Beverly past Route 1A and south nearly to the Peabody line. In addition to the usual heavy traffic to and from the mall for Christmas shopping, the sheer amount of motorists seeking to circumvent the highway clogged every major side street as well between Route 62 and Route 35.
MassDOT urges motorists to plan on encountering regular delays going forward and allow more time for their regular commute.
A spokesman said the initial gridlock this weekend may have been due to the changes in scenery for motorists (placement of electronic message boards to alert drivers and new concrete barriers close to the roadway) and the delays will hopefully ease up as drivers become accustomed to navigating through the work zone.
Don't forget: work hours at the site are now 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. - 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. The ramps for Exit 23S on either side remain closed.
And be prepared for heavy traffic to and from the Liberty Tree Mall area through the week as holiday shoppers sprint to the finish (figuratively at any rate) on their Christmas shopping.
Potholes and other breaks
Now that pothole season is fast approaching, we want to offer our readers another way to keep track. In addition to alerting the Department of Public Works, if you see a crater in a town road this week, tell us where it is as a heads up to your fellow motorists. Shout out large water main breaks too.