MA 4th Of July Travel Guide: Live Traffic, Public Transit Details

MA 4th Of July Travel Guide: Live Traffic, Public Transit Details

Here’s what’s happening on Massachusetts highways on one of the busiest travel times of the year.

This year, with the holiday falling smack-dab in the middle of the week, one wonders: “when will everyone be driving?” All times. That’s when. They highways will likely be busy through the week, of course. But the MassDOT has some specific information about how it is dealing with the traffic, and when the biggest clogs will occur.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) advises holiday travelers to plan ahead, use MassDOT’s “real time” travel tools and use public transportation if possible to reach their destinations between now and the end of the July 4 holiday.

“We are encouraging anyone traveling for the Fourth of July holiday to check transit schedules and check ‘real time’ technology tools for drivers,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack in a statement. “People should think about where they are going and how they will get there, plan their trips around holiday public transit schedules or around when the roads may have the highest volume of traffic and remember the advice for getting somewhere safely, including, putting cell phones away while driving, staying sober if getting behind the wheel, giving extra room for cyclists and pedestrians on streets and taking the extra step on public transit to be courteous to other customers.”

But if you weren’t planning on taking the train or the bus, you’re hitting the highways, where weekend getaway traffic is already getting into gear Friday. Fortunately, buildups aren’t going to be at their worst until Tuesday, when AAA says the highest congestion will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. So you may luck out with an early enough start.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise for the anyone who has ever driven through Boston on the commute home, but it’s particularly bad on I-93 in and around the city. There are backups building on parts of I-95, I-495, the Mass. Pike and of course, roads leading to the Cape.

We pulled Mapquest live traffic maps for several areas around the state. All you have to do to view live traffic conditions in each region is:

  • Click the three dots in the bottom righthand corner of the map
  • Click the icon with two cars
  • Check the boxes for “traffic slowdowns” and “traffic incidents”
  • If the exact spot you want isn’t here, or you want to zoom in for more detail, just click and grab the map.

Boston Area

North Shore

Merrimack Valley

South Shore

South Coast

Cape Cod


Central Mass.

“The best advice we can give anyone traveling for the Fourth is plan ahead,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver in a statement. “With July 4 falling on a Wednesday this year, many people may be leaving home on Friday, June 29, and returning on Sunday, July 8, so travelers should get up-to-the minute information on public transit schedules and drive times so they aren’t caught off-guard when setting out for destinations. We want everyone to have an easy trip and a safe trip and encourage people to be patient with each other as many people will be moving around in an effort to attend events and to enjoy some vacation time.”

To help the flow of traffic during the holiday, MassDOT is postponing any scheduled roadway construction, effective at noon on Tuesday, July 3, with scheduled construction activities resuming the normal start of business on Thursday, July 5. In addition, the High Occupancy Lane (HOV) between Quincy and Boston on I-93 will open early for the afternoon commute on Friday, June 29 at 1 p.m. The HOV lane will be closed on Tuesday, July 3, in the afternoon and all day Wednesday, July 4. It re-opens during regularly scheduled hours on Thursday, July 5.

Free coffee will be served at the 18 MassDOT service plazas from 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 4, through 5 a.m., Thursday, July 5. The plazas serving free coffee include 11 service plazas along I-90 plus plazas along Route 3 in Plymouth, Route 128 in Beverly, Route 128/I-95 in Newton and Lexington, Route 6 in Barnstable, and the Route 24 northbound and southbound plazas.

The MBTA has also released the following information regarding travel on Wednesday, July 4:

  • All MBTA service will be free after 9:30 p.m.
  • All subway, busses, and trackless trolley will operate on a Sunday schedule.
  • Subway service will then operate at rush-hour levels of service beginning at 2 p.m.
  • The Hingham and Hull boat service will operate on a Saturday schedule.
  • The Charlestown ferry service will operate on a weekend schedule.
  • Commuter Rail lines will operate on a Saturday schedule, with the exception of the Fairmont Line, which will operate on a special event/holiday schedule. Additionally, last outbound north and south side train times have been adjusted to accommodate the fireworks display on the Esplanade.
  • The RIDE will operate on a Saturday schedule.
  • Parking facilities will operate as usual with parking ambassadors available to assist customers with payment and other event related questions.
  • MBTA customers should be reminded that bicycles are not allowed on any subway line for the entire day on Fourth of July. Bicycles are prohibited on inbound Commuter Rail trains from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and outbound Commuter Rail trains after 4 p.m.
  • For full MBTA schedule details, go here.
  • Additionally, several bus routes may operate on detour routes due to 4th of July events and parades, and detour information is posted on T-Alerts.

Photo Credit: Charlene Arsenault

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