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Congestion in the Commonwealth

MassDOT studies and initiatives to address vehicular congestion in Massachusetts.

Roadway congestion is a frustrating driving condition that Massachusetts travelers know all too well. Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, recurring congestion regularly led to travel time delays during peak travel periods that snarled the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who live and work across the state, especially in Greater Boston. While the covid-19 pandemic has clearly affected travel patterns and trends, there is not a clear indication regarding how, when, and where traffic will adjust post-pandemic.  

MassDOT regularly monitors traffic volumes and is continuing congestion-related initiatives to ensure that our roadways are prepared for the needs of all residents and travelers to the state. This webpage is a landing site for studies related to vehicular congestion. For more information, contact planning@dot.state.ma.us.    

Managed Lanes Screening Study

In response to the Congestion in the Commonwealth report’s recommendations, MassDOT is preparing several follow-on studies and initiatives to continue our work to address congestion in the Commonwealth.

Managed lanes are defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as highway facilities or a set of lanes where operational strategies are proactively implemented and managed in response to changing conditions. The Congestion in the Commonwealth report found that a “growing body of evidence suggests that dynamically priced lanes, in locations with parallel and free general travel lanes, can provide a real option for those willing and able to pay more to avoid congestion while simultaneously improving the performance of the entire corridor including the non-tolled lanes.”

The Managed Lanes Screening Study is a high-level analysis of several highway corridors within the I-495 beltway that may be well-suited for certain managed lane treatments.

Managed Lanes Screening Study 2020 Report

Report to the Governor 2019

In the summer of 2018, Governor Baker signed HB4833, which included language that directed MassDOT to conduct a study of vehicular congestion on Massachusetts roadways. Specifically, the mandate calls for MassDOT to “design and execute a study that provides a detailed analysis of practical pathways by which the Commonwealth could reduce motor vehicle congestion and make appropriate recommendations for further study or pilot programs, if warranted.” This report was released on August 8, 2019. 

The analysis takes a layered and mixed-methods approach to identify and investigate where, when, and why congestion occurs in Massachusetts. This study relies on several different sources of information to be as thorough as possible and to reflect all of the different ways to understand and describe congestion and its sources. 

Congestion in the Commonwealth: Report to the Governor 2019  

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