Sumner Tunnel

Sumner Tunnel reopens on Friday as holiday travelers hit the road

AAA is tracking an increase in bookings this year for the holiday weekend

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With Labor Day Weekend kicking off, many are getting ready to hit the roads as early as Thursday to get to their holiday destinations.

For Boston area travelers, there's a change that could help to ease congestion: The Sumner Tunnel will reopen Friday – and be open throughout the holiday weekend – after being closed for 8 weeks.

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Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it will shut down scheduled, non-emergency construction outside of fixed work zones for the Labor Day travel period starting Friday at 5 a.m.

Boston's Sumner Tunnel has been closed since July 5 for restoration work, but it is nearly ready to open back up to traffic.

Crews will be deploying the HOV lane on Interstate 93 between Boston and Quincy earlier than normal — starting at 2 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. on Friday. Those times are in line with what travel experts anticipate to be the busiest travel times ahead of the holiday weekend.

Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. is expected to be the worst time to be on the roads all weekend.

The closure of the Sumner Tunnel has given Boston drivers headaches for weeks.

Friday traffic, though, is expected to be more spread out – basically from 11a.m. to 9 p.m., there will likely be higher than normal traffic volume on the roads.

For travelers who will be flying to their destination, it may be encouraging to once again have the Sumner Tunnel as an option when leaving Logan Airport – but MassDOT still encourages travelers to use public or private transportation over driving themselves there to reduce congestion.

Sumner Tunnel drivers will notice 500 new energy efficient lights that were installed inside the tunnel.

MassDOT said the tunnel will also have a more open feel, with 700 new arches installed, which also improve safety.

A new ventilation system means more clean air running through the tunnel – which is especially important during traffic.

However, work inside the Sumner is not done yet – it will close again next summer when crews will be ripping up the pavement to correct any areas of deterioration in the concrete, and then repaving the length of the tunnel.

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