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Comm Ave Bridge Closed through August 11

Some detours mirror those of last year’s closing, some don’t

UPDATE: All lanes of the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) reopened on August 5. There will be some Pike lane closures still during overnight, off-peak hours.

The Commonwealth Avenue bridge and the adjacent sections of the road were shut down Thursday, July 26, at 7 pm for replacement of the bridge’s westbound lane. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has set a target date of Saturday, August 11, for reopening the bridge, which carries Comm Ave traffic and MBTA Green Line B trolleys over the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and MBTA commuter rail tracks.

MassDOT also announced traffic detours and accommodations for area residents and employees during the 15-and-a-half-day project. Some measures are similar to those implemented last summer, when the state closed the bridge to replace the eastbound side.

Work-related detours and other changes can be found on the MassDOT website. BU worked with MassDOT to approve its detours and directions for the BU community. These are posted on BU’s website for the project.

Among the approved detours is one for bicyclists headed north and south between Mountfort/Essex Streets and the BU Bridge. Find that detour route here.

MassDOT spokesman Patrick Marvin suggests that people consider scheduling vacations, working from home, “or planning to utilize public transportation or alternative ways to reach their destinations” during the closure.

Map courtesy of MassDOT

Map courtesy of MassDOT

“We encourage travelers and members of the local community to plan ahead,” says Marvin. “Everyone should learn about the upcoming impacts, look at their schedules, and recognize that their commutes will be different during this time period.”

As it did last year, the state scheduled the project during the season of reduced traffic. The work, which will install 215 prefabricated concrete deck panels and 45 steel beams in the westbound lane of the 50-year-old span, is part of a major improvement of Comm Ave that is scheduled to end in 2019. Crews will also use approximately 680 cubic yards of concrete for the closure pours, which seal in the deck panels, and 520 tons of hot mix asphalt.

Specifically, MassDOT announced the following work-related measures:

Comm Ave will be closed to motor vehicle traffic between Kenmore Square to the east and Packard’s Corner to the west. Only customers of businesses along that stretch, residents, MBTA buses, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists will be allowed through.

The BU Bridge will be closed to all motor vehicle traffic, but pedestrians and bicyclists will be permitted—bicyclists will be required to walk their bikes. A pedestrian walkway between the BU Bridge and Comm Ave will be set up.

The MBTA Green Line B trolley stopped running at 5 am on July 27 and will resume service at 5 am on August 11. Shuttle buses will carry passengers between Babcock and Blandford Streets during that time.

The MBTA’s CT2 and 47 buses will use detoured routes during the closure.

MBTA’s commuter rail line service to Framingham and Worcester will be closed the weekends of July 27 to 29 and August 3 to 5, while maintaining its usual schedule on weekdays. Free shuttle buses will replace commuter rail train service between Framingham and Wellesley Farms on those weekends. After Wellesley Farms, the shuttle buses will continue to Riverside, where riders can connect to the MBTA Green Line D branch. In addition to the local shuttles, express shuttle service will be available between Framingham and Riverside.

Parking permit holders: The College of Fine Arts (Lot E), Upper Bridge (Lot H), Lower Bridge (Lot G), 730/750 Commonwealth Avenue (Lot Q), and 766 Commonwealth Avenue (Lot R) locations will be closed during construction. Those who typically park at the Bridge lots are encouraged to use the Warren Towers garage (Lot K) during this period. Those who typically park at the College of Fine Arts lot are encouraged to use the Agganis Arena garage (Lot A) during this period. And those who typically park in the 730/750 or 766 Commonwealth Avenue lots are encouraged to use either the Warren Towers garage (Lot K) or the Essex Street Garage (Lot F). Permit holders will not have access to University Road.

Last summer’s project replaced the bridge’s eastbound lane, sidewalk, bike lane, and both sides of the MBTA Green Line trolley area. MassDOT says it shortened the project’s duration from what would have been several years by using accelerated construction techniques. The eastbound lane was replaced with prefabricated components that were ferried to the work site, where 200 workers labored around the clock to assemble them. The same techniques will be used this summer. 

BU Today will update this story as necessary.

Rich Barlow, Senior Writer, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

33 Comments on Comm Ave Bridge Closed through August 11

  • LarryO on 04.24.2018 at 12:03 pm

    Will those of us that drive to, park and work on West Campus, but approach BU from the east (i.e.Strorrow Drive to Kenmore Square) be able to use St. Paul Street to access Buick Street?

    • Rich Barlow on 04.25.2018 at 8:28 am

      This is the answer we received from the state:
      “Left turns should not be an issue at this intersection. I think there were some situations last year where traffic got bad and police were pushing everyone right into Brookline. To avoid this happening, I would personally come from St. Paul and go straight onto Buick St. but both movements are allowed.”

      • LarryO on 04.25.2018 at 9:15 am

        Thank you. This what was allowed last year, so I was hoping it would stay the same this year. St. Paul straight through to Buick is exactly the route that works the best for those who work in the 800 block of Comm Ave.

        Note: My reply was meant to be here, not on Working Person’s comment.

      • Louise on 07.12.2018 at 12:06 pm

        Thanks for this rich info, Rich.

        1) Does the Boston side of the “BU Bridge” also appear to be just a really spread out, big, flat, awkward section of Commonwealth Avenue that is then s-curvedly attached to what appears to be the only “real” bridge, the mini-grand old four-foot thick concrete one that goes over the river and becomes a rotary to Mem Drive east/west and into Central Square?

        I think I am starting to understand that this may in fact be the case after living here for (never mind)and having had more than one “little disagreement” with my husband about how I can’t possibly not see this,and must just be difficult :}. In other words, one doesn’t really see that there is a whole turnpike under Comm Ave, so that Comm Ave there serves as both a bridge and a major Boston avenue of the grand old scale? (IF so BRAVO and BRAVA to ALL involved no matter how long it takes!!!! If I am STILL wrong, pity me.)

        Also: I am regularly made into a Type A monster when I come off Storrow Drive to Comm Ave (at what I think it is called University Road) and there is no light, and I have to wait for a solid stream of not-at-all-entitled-or-oblivious pedestrians to have pity on me AND then cross 2-3 “lanes” of traffic/gridlock to turn right to go up Commonwealth to the Agganis, etc. I almost always use a different (and which shall remain secret)route. Please, pretttty please tell me there will be a traffic light with pedestrian little-people picturee things there. If so, I will likely avoid one heck of a ticket for speeding in a contained space, and will bear all quite happily.

        THANKS AGAIN, RICH, AND TO ALL THE AWESOME MEN AND WOMEN OF SO MANY SKILL-SETS WHO MAKE THIS WORK. I ain’t kidding. My husband was a laborer until he caught a (full) palette of something coming off a fork lift.

        • LarryO on 07.17.2018 at 9:04 am

          1) The BU Bridge is the bridge over Storrow Drive and the Charles River.
          2) The Comm Ave bridge is that “really spread out, big, flat, awkward section of Commonwealth Avenue” as you refer to it.
          3) Yes, a traffic light and pedestrian signals at the University Road and Comm Ave intersection are part of this project. Do I think it will prevent the thousands of students per day that blindly cross against and through the moving traffic? No, but it might help just a little bit.

  • Working Person on 04.24.2018 at 7:00 pm

    Can’t wait for them to delay it just like last year!

  • Jose Artigas on 04.26.2018 at 2:45 pm

    During this time can we still cross the BU Bridge from Cambridge to the main BU campus area around Marsh Plaza?

    • David Bergeron-Keefe, BU Today on 04.26.2018 at 4:36 pm

      The BU Bridge will be closed to all motor-vehicle traffic. Walkers and bicycles can use the bridge.

  • Julie on 07.12.2018 at 9:26 am

    What will be the best way to access the Agganis garage coming from the west? Should I go through Coolidge Corner and take Pleasant street towards Comm Ave, make a jog across it to continue on Harry Agganis Way (good route last year) or go through Brookline to St. Paul, cross Comm Ave, and continue on Buick Street? Also, is going eastbound through Packard’s Corner to get to the point where one must turn left for Agganis considered “local traffic?” It was unclear last year. Thanks.

    • Tom Daley on 07.12.2018 at 1:53 pm

      Your first choice is the most logical one. Take Pleasant street, jog across Comm. Ave. and right down HAW. There may be construction vehicles and other back ups on Comm. Ave, so crossing it (least exposure) is probably better than being on it. St. Paul is another option, but is much closer to the construction area. Take a look at our webpage http://www.bu.edu/capbridge/construction-zone-map/ for more information, and regular updates!

  • Maria on 07.16.2018 at 1:07 pm

    I drive from Kenmore and will be trying to go toward Waltham. Is there a good way to commute home from BU?

  • Tom Daley on 07.17.2018 at 8:21 am

    Maria you may want to consider parking at the Arena and utilizing the shuttle busses provided by both BU and the T. That way you have options of getting out to 128 on either Comm Ave, the Turnpike or crossing the river at Harvard Square and taking Route 2 in that direction. For those few days you may want to consider taking Commuter Rail from Waltham (Fitchburg Line) and then the Green Line to Kenmore Square.

  • Janice on 07.18.2018 at 12:10 pm

    What are the accessibility options for those traveling up and down Comm Ave?

    • Tom Daley on 07.18.2018 at 4:10 pm

      Janice, sidewalks on the eastbound side of Commonwealth Avenue will be open and accessible. Busses that transit the area, as they now are, will be accessible as well. Coming across the BU bridge and exiting through the Academy parking lot has a ramp planned as well.

  • Vika Zafrin on 07.18.2018 at 12:44 pm

    Hi — I see that the bus rerouting information has been published, and that the CT2 bus lists several stops all around the campus (including across the river) that will be closed. But no temporary stops have been announced for that route… have they? Where do I go to catch the CT2? Or is it just unavailable for the duration from anywhere near BU?

  • Frank Korom on 07.23.2018 at 12:38 pm

    What will be the best way to get from Arsenal Street in Watertown to 147 Bay State a Road on the BU campus during the construction?

    • Tom on 07.24.2018 at 10:13 am

      Frank….I’m not a frequent driver in your part of the world, but I think if you take Arsenal to Western to Soldiers Field Road/Storrow and exit at Kenmore square (avoiding the BU exit), OR Arsenal to Market to Harvard St all the way to Beacon St, and then on into Kenmore Square. I also recommend using Google Maps and Waze to assist you in your planning!

    • LarryO on 07.24.2018 at 10:19 am

      I would do it the same way as I would today: Soldiers Field Road to Storrow Drive, getting off at the Kenmore Square exit.

  • Brendan McDermott on 07.24.2018 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, BU Parking Services, for not informing us that the upper bridge lot would be closed starting TODAY (7/24) instead of Thursday (7/26). The little slip of paper that you give us for various other closings (e.g., homecoming) would have been useful.

    • Tom Daley on 07.24.2018 at 11:25 am

      Brendan thanks for the feedback on the individual notes, that has been passed on to parking, and they are sorry for any inconvenience. On the 13th of July notice of the closing of this lot was posted on the BU bridge website (http://www.bu.edu/capbridge/). The most up to date information will be posted at this website throughout the project.

      • LarryO on 07.25.2018 at 2:19 pm

        While looking for other information, I just happened to notice that July 13th notice about the upper bridge lot. Posting important notices that on s specific web page requires everyone who could be impacted to check that specific web page every day. That works well for a page like BU Today, but not buried somewhere on the bridge construction page. Sorry Parking Services, but far too many times people have been ‘surprised’ by lot closures they didn’t know about until they tried to use the now-closed lot. There has got to be a better way.

  • Student on 07.26.2018 at 9:00 pm

    It seems to me that people tend to blow out of proportion how bad everything will be with the bridge work. Mass DOT having a sign saying “It’s bad. It’s coming” or something like that is a little dramatic. I found that the shuttle buses used last year were comfortable, clean, and provided a pleasant ride. Sometimes it was actually faster on the shuttle bus than on the T us usual because there was no traffic for the bus to yield to. Plus, as a pedestrian or cyclist, Comm Ave was so nice!

  • LarryO on 07.27.2018 at 10:37 am

    One of the the official Comm Ave detours is Beacon Street, but the section of Beacon between the I-90 Turnpike overpass and Park Drive is almost impassable due to major construction projects. Lanes are blocked on both sides due to large trucks delivering steel for the huge development going on right after the overpass, and the never-ending reconstruction of Audubon Circle at park Drive is causing backups almost back to Kenmore Square.

    The Comm Ave reconstruction project is on hold while the Comm Ave Bridge is being replaced. Can’t Mass DOT also halt the major construction on Beacon Street for the same short time period?

  • Student stay in summer on 07.27.2018 at 3:18 pm

    So will BU Shuttle still working on the same schedule and same route after the construction starts?

    • Billy Hajjar on 07.27.2018 at 8:23 pm

      The BUS will be operating with the same schedule and route during the construction period, with only minor changes as you may have noticed today. The Student Village 2 (M1) stop has moved across the street from its usual location and closer to Nickerson Field. The BUS will be unable to stop at Marsh Plaza (C6) and will instead stop one block east, at the MBTA bus stop near Granby Street. And due to the construction zone, the BUS will be unable to stop at the College of Fine Arts (C7).

  • Dan on 07.31.2018 at 1:37 pm

    Here’s a field update: Cambridge Street this morning was backed up from the Charles River to Oak Square, and a 20-minute bus trip took an hour. Oh and they were doing utility work on parts of it bottlenecking two lanes of traffic into one. Great job, person who approved that.

  • LarryO on 08.01.2018 at 9:48 am

    For those who work on West Campus, but need to go east to go home, good luck!
    1) Although St Paul traffic is allowed to cross Comm Ave to Buick Street, the reverse is not true. All traffic must head westbound on Comm Ave. and the legal u-turn at Pleasant Street is now blocked.
    2) Using Harry Agganis Way would be a great alternative, but the crossover to Pleasant Street is blocked by MBTA work, so once again, you must head west on Comm Ave.

    Not being able to go from Buick Street, straight across to St. Paul Street, is forcing all eastbound traffic westbound, to make a u-turn at Babcock Street, and make your way all the way back to the Buick/St. Paul intersection, where you now take a right turn from the left lane. I liked it better last year when certain Police Officers would just let the Buick Street traffic safely cross over to St. Paul and be on their way.

    • Billy Hajjar on 08.01.2018 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Larry. While this is a state project and we have no ultimate control over changes that may occur to the traffic management from last year to this year, we will certainly inquire as to whether the Police Officers can assist in pulling traffic from Buick Street across to St. Paul Street during peak exit timeframes.

      • LarryO on 08.01.2018 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks! It would be so much easier, especially since the MBTA work is blocking the alternative route.

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