Traffic Volumes Fall Sharply Across State Checkpoints

BOSTON (State House News Service) — Eastern and central Massachusetts drivers stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions have cut highway trips by a whopping 68 percent compared to this time last year, according to one measure maintained by the Department of Transportation and provided in response to a request from State House News Service.

Slightly more than 3 million vehicles passed through 11 checkpoints the agency maintains on major highways from Saturday, April 4, through Friday, April 10, 2020. Those same checkpoints counted almost 10 million vehicles during the comparable week in 2019.

The checkpoints tally vehicles traveling in both directions, so one driver making a roundtrip along the same route would count twice. The same methodology was in effect in 2020 and 2019, however, so percentage changes are accurate.

Figures for the week that ended April 10, the most current available, are similar to those for the two prior weeks. Gov. Charlie Baker issued orders that began shutting down many businesses and schools effective March 24.

The highest traffic decline was in the Callahan and Sumner Tunnels between Boston and East Boston. Traffic was down almost 77 percent compared to the year-ago week. The neighboring Ted Williams Tunnel saw a 76 percent decrease in traffic. All three serve Logan International Airport, which like counterparts across the country has weathered a profound loss in air traffic due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

The counting point that produced the smallest change year-over-year was on I-290 in Auburn. The 264,295 vehicles that passed through represented almost half of the year-ago count.

Sundays across the state's highways tended to have the lowest traffic of any day of the week in 2020 or 2019. Sundays also saw the steepest decline of the week in almost every location in the wake of Baker's order.

By counting point:

-- Massachusetts Turnpike Extension between Boston and Newton, both directions, down 74 percent -- 119,031 trips this year compared with 463,173 last year.

-- Massachusetts Turnpike, Allston, both directions, down 74 percent -- 42,881 this year compared with 166,626 last year.

-- Ted Williams Tunnel, both directions down 76 percent -- 25,775 this year compared with 106,771 last year,

-- Callahan and Sumner tunnels combined (one carries eastbound traffic, the other westbound), down 76 percent -- 18,573 this year from 77,898 last year.

-- Tobin Bridge, both directions, down 58 percent -- 35,935 this year from 84,853 last year.

-- Massachusetts Turnpike in Hopkinton, both directions, down 63 percent -- 36,617 this year from 99,512 last year.

-- Route 128 in Woburn, both directions, down 57 percent -- 42,200 this year from 98,572 last year.

-- Route 128 in Canton, both directions, down 53 percent -- 45,776 this year from 98,191 last year.

-- I-93 southbound in Andover at I-495, both directions, down 54 percent -- 30,659 this year from 66,697 last year.

-- Route 24 in Avon, both directions, down 59 percent -- 55,527 this year from 132,952 last year.

-- Massachusetts Turnpike in Auburn, both directions, down 49 percent -- 41,843 this year from 82,647 last year.

By Eric Convey, State House News Service

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