Boston Companies Adjust to Life Without the Big Dig
Two weeks after a fatal accident that led to a partial closure of Boston's Big Dig, companies and employees in and around the city say they have adjusted reasonably well to the resulting traffic delays and detours.
While many commuters have been forced to find new ways to get to work, and concerns remain over what effect a prolonged shutdown will have on the city's convention and tourism business, fears over the impact on business haven't yet materialized for the most part.
"More people are looking to public transportation," said Ashley Jones, marketing coordinator for the Beacon Hill Staffing Group, a former Inc. 500 company. Like many, Jones, who would normally drive into the city from her home in Norwood, Mass., about 23 miles southwest of Boston, has been taking the commuter rail to work instead.
"Other than traffic delays, there hasn't been an effect on business," she added.
The Interstate 90 connector tunnel, which links two main highways and serves as a primary route to Logan International Airport, was closed indefinitely on July 10, when large concrete slabs fell from the ceiling and killed a motorist. A key ramp leading to the city's Ted Williams Tunnel also remains closed because of similar fears over loose ceiling bolts.
In response to the closures, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has added busses to its Silver Line service, which provides transportation between Logan Airport and South Station every 10 minutes. In addition to encouraging all air travelers to use public transportation, the Massachusetts Port Authority has also increased its shuttle bus service between the MBTA's Airport station and all terminals at Logan.
Amtrak's Downeaster service between Portland, Maine, and Boston has seen a rise in riders since the tunnel incident. "We saw a pretty immediate jump of 100 to 150 people a day," said Patricia Douglass, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. "That's a 5-7% increase of mid-week travel."
For now, tourism officials say they have not seen a dip in visitors. "The city is alive and well and open for business," said Beth White, of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. "All things considered, it's been handled really well. People have been coping with it."