Sumner Tunnel reopening: What to know & when it will close again
By Susannah Sudborough
East Boston and North Shore residents rejoice! After two months of longer commutes, the Sumner Tunnel closure is ending Sept. 1.
Some transit changes will occur with the reopening of the tunnel, which connects East Boston to downtown Boston, but they are simply the MBTA going back to providing normal service.
The biggest changes are that regular fares and parking fees will resume systemwide, and that riders can no longer show any type of ticket or Charlie Card on the Commuter Rail or East Boston ferry.
Parts of the MBTA where normal fares and fees will resume:
The MBTA recommends riders buy passes or reload their Charlie Card or ticket in advance of the reopening to prevent boarding slowdowns.
REMINDER: Regular fare collection will resume across the system on September 1. All fare mitigations for @MassDOT Sumner Tunnel closure & systemwide slow zones will end. We encourage riders to load their CharlieCard/Ticket with cash value or passes in advance for faster boarding. pic.twitter.com/9fQdb77Lqc
There is still work to be done to restore the Sumner Tunnel, but the next part of the project won’t be as disruptive.
This fall and next spring, the Sumner Tunnel will close for around a dozen weekends, MassDOT spokesperson Marshall Hook said Monday. The schedule for the closures hasn’t been finalized yet, but it is expected to be released later this week.
Additionally, another two-month closure is scheduled for next summer. Hook said it will happen at approximately the same time as this year’s closure — from around July 4 to Labor Day — but the exact dates are also expected to be announced later this week.
Right now, the second two-month closure is the final closure planned for the Sumner Tunnel. Hook seemed hopeful that no more closures will be announced, but said he couldn’t make any promises.
It wouldn’t be the first time the tunnel’s closure plan has changed. Last summer when the restoration project kicked off, the plan was to close the tunnel for four months this summer and then have more weekend closures over the next year.
MassDOT announced in February 2023 that it was splitting up the four-month closure into two two-month closures over two years.
You can find the latest updates on the closure on mass.gov.
The Sumner Tunnel was built in the 1930s. It’s now in bad condition due to corrosion and normal wear and tear, officials say.
According to MassDOT, the tunnel is suffering from chipped and crumbling concrete, rusted reinforcements, cracked wall panels, broken light fixtures, and deteriorated pavement. Additionally, the tunnel’s ventilation, drainage, security, and fire suppression systems all need to be brought up to code.
“At this point, we’re well beyond patches and repairs: the only way to keep the Sumner Tunnel in service is with a top-to-bottom restoration,” MassDOT wrote on its website.
During the closure, crews are restoring the overhead arch and ceiling, painting tunnel walls, adding fireproof boards, and installing new lights and cables, MassDOT said.
The biggest upcoming closure will begin Sept. 9 when much of the Haverhill Commuter Rail Line will be replaced by shuttle buses for about two months.
Additionally, in October, the Mattapan and Ashmont Lines on the Red Line will shut down for 16 days and be replaced by shuttle buses.
On Monday, the MBTA also announced shorter closures on the Red, Green, Orange, Kingston, Middleborough, Greenbush, and Newburyport/Rockport Lines.
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Be civil. Be kind.Parts of the MBTA where normal fares and fees will resume: