Going Nowhere In Boston Traffic: ‘We’re All In This Together’
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BOSTON (CBS) – Kristen Gonzales teaches nursing at MCPHS University in Boston. She commutes 72 miles round-trip daily to Mission Hill from Shrewsbury, at a cost in both time and money.
“Honestly, it costs me almost 800 dollars a month to commute, between gas, and tolls and parking, and it’s an hour if I leave at 5:30 in the morning, but, if I have to drop my son off, which is seven o’clock in the morning at the earliest, then it can be an hour and a half to two hours, sometimes three,” she says. Gonzales then factors in the day of the week. “The worst is Fridays, coming home. It can be three hours sometimes, if I don’t leave by three o’clock.”
So, is this craziness? Gonzales says sometimes it is. “Sometimes, it’s frustrating. Sometimes I’ll be driving and think that I need to find a job close to home, but, then I get there and it’s fine, and besides, I’m kind of used to it.” She continues. “I catch up, you know, I talk to my best friends on the phone on my commute, and it’s sort of my time. Plus, I have my extra large coffee and it’s not so bad,” she says.
Gonzales has tried alternate routes. “They are not any better. They can be worse. Route 9 can be a nightmare,” she says. Gonzales also knows the ins and outs of the Pike. “Certain lanes, like the Weston tolls, the fast lanes are the slow lanes. So, it’s better to go all the way over to one of the right lanes. I found the second one to the right moves the quickest, otherwise, you’ll be there all day,” she says.
Gonzales also finds her fellow commuters well behaved. “I think we’re all in it together. I don’t find that it’s too dog-eat-dog. Actually, everybody just kind of sits there and does their thing,” she says.
Emmy lives in Dorchester and works in training and development in Wilmington. She has a 24 mile commute each way. Her nemesis is Route 93. “Sometimes, when traffic is bad, you just raise your hands up and say, “I’m going to be very late.”
Like Gonzales coming in from the west, Emmy has her markers, too. “Spot Pond. If I see brake lights at Spot Pond or Roosevelt Circle, I know it’s going to be a long commute.” Emmy also commiserates with fellow I-93 commuters. She explains, “The ones that live in New Hampshire, in particular. We all kind of roll our eyes on a Friday afternoon and say, ‘Okay, we’re just going to sit in traffic.”
Dave O’Toole has been driving a milk truck for 16 years and averages 300 miles on the road each week. “The worst spot is 128. You never know on 128,” says O’Toole.
He also has a pet peeve. “My biggest pet peeve with driving is, when you go to pull out in a main road, or whatever, that a car thinks you’ve got a rocketship, and we don’t. We have trucks and we can only go so fast to start off,” he says.
I met Ray Wall at the Burger King rest stop on Route 24 in Bridgewater one day last month, and climbed aboard his 2013 Mack Pinnacle as he headed to Boston Sand and Gravel to drop off a load of cement. He’d started out long before our 6:00 am meeting. “When I leave Middleborough to go to Boston, if I leave after 4:30 in the morning, it will take me two hours. I figure it’s going to take us two hours,” he said. His prediction, in fact, all of his predictions, pretty much panned out. First, there was the sudden halt on Route 24, for no apparent reason. “Here we are coming up to Route 123 and what have we got, brake lights. This is one of the places that’s a magnetic anomaly. We’ll get up here, we’ll get through this jam and there won’t be any reason for it. We’re down to 13 miles an hour and for whatever reason, it’s coming to a halt,” said Wall.
How is Wall viewed by his fellow travelers? “I am probably viewed as the big scary truck. I try to be as courteous as possible, but you know what? It’s dog eat dog out here,” said Wall. He also says sitting up in his rig, he’s seen it all. “I see everything. I see things I can’t tell you about,” laughed Wall. He continued, “When we get down to 40, 35 or 30 miles an hour, that’s where we start seeing the incredibly stupid things, people cutting and changing lanes. The clock always runs at the same speed. They know that and they need to make up the time that they’re missing,” said Wall. Lane changers really drive him crazy. “This fella in the Mercedes is in the right lane, and that right lane is moving. We’ve come to a stop and yet he comes over here. Why?” laughed Wall.
The toughest part of our ride was heading up to the split to get onto the Expressway.
“See, there’s a guy that just jumps right in front of me because he sees that open spot, and watch him. He wants to get over there to the left because he’s gotta move. He’s running late and he’s gotta get there. There he goes, and away he goes,” observed Wall. However, once we got on the Expressway, some politeness surfaced. “This is one of the only places where I see people being extremely courteous. I put my directional on and whatever car was back there almost came to a stop so I could get over. The traffic fairy must live there and she just sprinkles the dust and people feel good, or something. I don’t know,” laughed Wall.
An hour and 48 minutes after leaving Bridgewater, we arrived in Charlestown. “That is typical,” said Wall. “We did not see an accident. We did not see a vehicle broken down. We saw nothing. All we saw was a volume of traffic,” said Wall.
Despite his long ride, Wall calls his rig the best “office” in the world. “I love driving and I love trucks, so this is an aggravation, but I don’t let it get to me,” he said.
Coming up, the people who go out of their way to avoid the commute because it does get them.
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