MASSDOT ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS AND VISITORS TO PLAN AHEAD DURING BUSY HOLIDAY TRAVEL SEASON

Offers Tips for Drivers, Transit Riders

Thanksgiving week marks the beginning of the winter holiday travel season and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is encouraging residents and visitors to plan ahead to avoid delays. MassDOT is offering the following tips for drivers, transit riders and those flying to and from Logan Airport.

DRIVERS ENCOURAGED TO AVOID TRAFFIC HOT SPOTS

Highway travel for the Thanksgiving holiday will be especially heavy on Wednesday November 25 and Sunday November 29. I-90 Exit 9 connecting I-84 to Connecticut and New York will experience heavy traffic congestion and delays at toll plazas. Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, the I-84 interchange was used by more than 42,000 vehicles. To avoid delays on Wednesday and Sunday, drivers are encouraged to travel during the early morning or after 8 p.m.

Traffic congestion is also expected at the I-95 and I-495 Turnpike interchanges along with I-495 and I-93 northbound leading into New Hampshire.

MassDOT is suspending highway construction projects across the state in anticipation of the heavy holiday traffic. However, travel restrictions will remain on larger road projects. In Lowell, the three-bridge construction project on Interstate 495 will divert traffic from the northbound high speed lane to the southbound side contra flow lane. Exit 37 northbound will remain closed. In Gardner, Route 2 will be reduced from two lanes to one lane in each direction near Route 68.

All Highway Division traffic cameras, including four new feeds from the Tobin Bridge, have been merged into one online traffic camera webpage at www.mass.gov/511/cameras where residents and visitors can view more than 90 live traffic cameras throughout the highway system. The cameras refresh every 10 seconds to provide real time traffic views.

Drivers can also call the state’s 511 traffic information line and check radio traffic reports for updated information. Drivers who make highway emergency service calls are encouraged to reference the nearest mile marker when possible.

To promote safe driving for travelers on I-95 including Rt. 128, I-90, Rts. 3, 6 and 24, free coffee will be served at all 18 of MassDOT’s service plazas courtesy of McDonalds, Burger King, and Gulf between 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 26 to 5 a.m. on Friday, November 27.

The following tourist information centers have been closed as part of necessary cuts to close the state’s $600 million mid-year budget gap: I-95 southbound in Salisbury; I-95 northbound in Mansfield; I-495 northbound in Chelmsford; I-195 eastbound in Swansea and Route 25 eastbound in Bourne.

Residents are also reminded that all Registry of Motor Vehicles offices will be closed on Thanksgiving but open the day after, Friday, November 27.

MBTA’S HOLIDAY TRAVEL SCHEDULE, TIPS FOR TAKING THE T TO LOGAN

The MBTA Thanksgiving Holiday service schedule for Wednesday, November 25 through Friday, November 27 is available at www.mbta.com.

Due heavy traffic, residents are encouraged to use public transportation to get to and from Logan Airport. Last year on the day before Thanksgiving, more than 50,000 drivers traveled through the Ted Williams, Callahan and Sumner Tunnels.

To accommodate MBTA customers traveling to and from Logan Airport, Silver Line service will be enhanced during peak airport travel times before the holiday and continuing through Tuesday, December 1. The Silver Line stops at five Logan terminals. With low floors and plenty of space, the 60-foot-long Silver Line vehicles are ideal for customers traveling with luggage. Remember to buy a CharlieTicket when leaving Logan. Buy a CharlieTicket with a One- or Seven-Day LinkPass to use during the holiday weekend.

For more detailed information on service around the holiday go to mbta.com or call an MBTA Customer Support Representative at 617-222-3200 or 800-392-6100, TTY 617-222-5146, Monday through Friday 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

AIR TRAVELER TIPS

For air travelers, Massport recommends passengers allow extra time to check in and get through security and to always check their airline flight status before leaving for the airport. Visit www.massport.com for updated flight arrival and departure information.

WINTER DRIVING TIPS

To prepare for the coming wintry weather, motorists should check all fluids, make sure their radiator is winterized, maintain a gas tank above half-full and keep windshield washing fluid on hand. A winter survival kit should include an ice scraper and shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, flares, sand for traction, extra clothing or blankets, a first-aid kit and non-perishable food.

Use the brake and gas pedal lightly when driving in icy conditions and watch for bridges, which freeze before roadways. Do not use cruise control in icy conditions. Clear frost from windows and mirrors. And remember that exit ramps may have less sand and salt on them than the highway.

Motorists who drive 4×4 vehicles are urged to remember that those vehicles tend to be heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop. Don’t get overconfident in a 4×4 vehicle’s traction.

Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow. Plows will typically travel under 35 miles per hour and there is always a temptation to pass them. For safety purposes, it is recommended to stay a safe distance behind snowplows.

In wintry weather, motorists should drive with headlights on, observe posted speed limits, never drink and drive, make sure everyone is using a seatbelt and be on the lookout for changing weather conditions. Other safety precautions include obeying warning signs, keeping a safe distance between vehicles and using four-way flashers when stopped in traffic or traveling slowly.

Check out the MassDOT traffic page for traffic cameras and traffic alerts: www.mass.gov/511/cameras

For transportation news and updates visit the MassDOT blog at www.mass.gov/blog/transportation or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.

More information on winter driving is available at the MassDOT website:
http://www.mhd.state.ma.us/default.asp?pgid=snowandice/winterTips&sid=about

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