Massachusetts Department of Transportation


Staying Safe In Construction Zones

construction zone

Whether you’re on the highway or a street in your neighborhood, road construction is a way of life for all drivers.  During the summer there is more construction going on than ever and not only can construction zones be dangerous for drivers, they can also pose a danger to the workers as well.  Keep these safety tips in mind next time you end up driving through a construction zone.

  • The best piece of advice we can give when it comes to construction zones is to avoid them.   Not only do they cause traffic, the more cars there are the more potential there is for an accident.  511 is know as America’s Traveler Information Telephone Number and can provide you with the best and safest routes available, even if you’re just commuting to work.  You can find information about various coverage areas from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. You can visit their website to get real-time traffic updates and create customized alerts! Another great tool we love?  The Waze traffic app that is updated in real time by other users on the road and provides the best and most updated routes taking traffic into consideration.
  • If you do find yourself approaching one of those bright orange signs reading “construction ahead” and don’t have time to take an alternate route, make sure you obey the posted speed limit.  Speeding is one of the biggest hazards for both drivers and construction workers.  If you’re speeding 10 miles over the limit and suddenly need to change lanes, you could potentially cause a major accident if you’re not able to get over in time.  You will also face big fines if you’re caught speeding in a construction zone, typically they are doubled and police officers do not take enforcement lightly.
  • When it comes to merging, the biggest risk factors are merging too late or at a high speed.  Both can result in deadly collisions and even if an accident does not occur, no one likes that person that waits until the last possible second to merge in an attempt to beat just a few more cars.  Get over as soon as possible and make sure you are going at a speed that is safe for yourself and your fellow drivers.
  • Be aware!  You need to be totally focused on your surroundings, not only the other cars, construction signs, and detours, but also the workers and their vehicles.  Construction vehicles may be working closely to the highway and it’s important to make sure they are able to see you as many have bad blind spots.  Some of them may even move onto the highway and come extremely close to oncoming traffic, and are slow to maneuver if an emergency ever did arise.  Workers are often located on the shoulders of highways so keep an eye out for them as well.

As always, safety is the top priority when it comes to driving.  Even though construction zones can be painful to sit through and delay your commute, they are unavoidable and it’s important to be as safe as possible when you find yourself in one.

Photo By: Bill Selak

Boston RMV Moving from Chinatown to Haymarket

The Boston RMV is moving, according to transportation officials. The Boston branch, currently located in Chinatown will be moving to a space in Haymarket located above what will be an indoor food market in an office building to be completed next year. It will replace the Chinatown branch and serve as the “flagship” for Massachusetts RMVs.

Source: http://www.metro.us/boston/

What You Need to Do to Renew Your Massachusetts License

Renewing your license? It’s never been easier!  Read up on some of the info you need to know for drivers license renewal in Massachusetts.

The Basics:

 

  • Your Massachusetts license is valid for 5 years and expires on your birthday.
  • You may renew your license up to one year prior to the expiration date.
  • The fee to renew a Class D driver’s license is $50.
  • Your temporary license is valid for 30 days but can not be used as a valid form of identification.
  • You can not renew your Mass. license at all if you have outstanding obligations or violations that have not been paid.
  • If you attempt to renew your license online you will be denied and given a list of your outstanding obligations and told how to resolve them before you visit an RMV branch and complete the renewal process.
  • Examples of outstanding obligations include unpaid parking, excise, or abandoned vehicle tickets,  fast lane violations, an outstanding warrant, or outstanding child support payments.
With online applications and express service lanes, Mass drivers can save valuable time at the RMV.  To renew online, you must first complete a questionnaire to determine eligibility. If you are able to renew online, you simply pay the $50 fee and your new license will be mailed to you in 7-10 days.  If you are not eligible, you can complete the application, print it and sign it, then bring it to any RMV branch for renewal. Examples of situations where you would not be eligible to renew online would be if you are over the age of 75, or if you are a Veteran and would like the Veteran’s indicator on your license, you must go into a branch as this can not be added during an online transaction.Don’t forget to check your license expiration date!  Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to renew your license before it expires.  The RMV no longer mails out renewal notices so make sure to go in at least 7 days before your current license expires so that you can receive your new license on time.  The only exception to this applies to drivers that are turning 21.  If you renew your license before you turn 21, you will be issued a vertical license that reads “under 21”.  If you go in on or after your 21st birthday you will be issued the standard horizontal license.

For more information on renewing your license in MA, visit the Massachusetts RMV website or call (617) 351-4500.  You can find RMV branch locations here.

Photo By: sixninepixels

MTBA Approves Funding for Station Improvements

MBTA Blue LineThe Orient Heights Station on the Blue Line has received funding approval for a number of grossly overdue renovations. According to the Boston Globe, the employee bathroom was so run-down it was replaced by an outdoor trailer. Thankfully, instances such as this have been brought to the eyes of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

Chipping and dripping ceilings within the run-down station are to be scheduled for updating with the MBTA’s (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) approval of a $27 million construction contract as a part of a twenty-year $700 million project. The East Boston project, inclusive of engineering, inspection, design and other costs amounts to $50 million.

For the most up to date notices about T Projects please visit the MTBA’s project website.

Photo by Mulad

South Coast Rail Project Moves Forward

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has finalized the legalities with CSX Transportation to gain the rail lines necessary to restore the commuter rail service between the South Coast region and Boston.

“Helping this region realize the promise of South Coast Rail has been our focus since day one… While others have stopped at talking about this project, we are making it happen. This agreement is another important example of our commitment to bringing this project one step closer to reality.”

– Gov. Deval Patrick Governor

Timothy Murray, the Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, spoke further on the subject that the partnership with CSXTis a major milestone and will be critical to use this investment to leverage future job growth transportation services, and economic development is communities like Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford. Murray however wasn’t the only one to further discuss the purchase as Senator John Kerry noted this will link the economies, businesses and homes of NewBedford and Fall River with Boston. Kerry continued since 2005 more than $30 million in federal funding was obtained from Congress because this development will be so beneficial to the economy and environment.

Further developments and a major stepping stone crossed by the South Coast Rail was a new request released June 10th for the reconstruction of three rail bridges in New Bedford. This past February  $20 million was awarded to MassDOT by the Obama Administration in competitive TIGER funds to be used in replacing deteriorating railroad bridges. Construction on local bridges will begin in the fall.

For more information about the Patrick-Murray Administration visit: www.mass.gov/governor/agenda.

DOT Highway Division – Interview with Luisa Paiewonsky

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation‘s Highway Division was formed from a merger of the Massachusetts Highway Department and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. After the merge Luisa Paiewonsky has overseen the joined organizations and was previously the highway department commissioner. Eric Moskowitz, a reporter of the Boston Globe, has recently interviewed Paiewonsky bringing Massachusetts drivers a better understanding of just what’s happening with our representatives and roads.

Q. What does your job entail?

A. I am responsible for running the state highway system, and the highway division that has jurisdiction over the state highway system. That includes a little over 10,000 lane miles of roads. We have responsibilities for a little under 5,000 bridges, and we have 3,300 employees working from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and the Islands. We are responsible for everything from interstate highways to a number of biking paths, timber bridges, large roads, small roads, everything in between. And that includes not only building and maintaining them but clearing them of snow, cutting the grass, and preserving the bridges.

Q. How much is spent on construction and how much on maintenance?

A. Last year we spent $771 million on construction and we probably spent another $150 million on maintenance. We would always love to spend more on maintenance, because it’s the most efficient way to use the dollars. It buys more service life out of roads and bridges.

Q. I understand that construction spending has more than doubled in the last few years. What are the reasons?

A. The first is Governor Patrick, as one of his first acts in office, greatly expanded our construction budget on the rationale that we had a large number of backed-up projects, and highway construction creates a lot of jobs. So that was a major infusion of dollars into our core program, the Statewide Road and Bridge Program.

About a year and a half later he signed the Accelerated Bridge Program [after the Minnesota bridge collapse]. That gave us $3 billion over eight years to improve the safety and condition of bridges across the state. And then the following year we got almost $450 million in stimulus funds.

Q. What’s something we learned from another state, and how do we rate nationally?

A. The most important measure is that we have the safest roads in the nation [measuring fatalities per vehicle miles traveled], but we’re not even satisfied with that. We want to reduce fatalities even further. We’re just ending a four-year program to reduce fatalities by 20 percent, and we will hit that target at the end of this year, and then we’re going to set a new goal.

Our interstate highways are in the top 12 nationally for pavement condition. We’d like to improve the condition of our other national highway system roads. I think we’re well known for being a multimodal state DOT in that our highway design guide is one of the best in the nation for welcoming bicyclists and pedestrians.

Many people in the Highway Division can’t take a trip on vacation or for business or any other reason without looking at other states’ roads or bringing back ideas.

I noticed traveling up to Maine that they had street signs on overpasses to help drivers know where they were. So we decided to not only add street names to the overpasses but the towns. And that’s a very small investment that provides a large service to millions of people a day.

For the full interview please visit Boston.com.

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 511

The Patrick-Murray Administration has increased the Massachusetts Department of Transportation efforts to strengthen customer service through online RMV services, the Accelerated Bridge Program, and now with spreading a free 511 service. The next generation of 511 traveler information service, as the press release describes it, is at no cost to the Commonwealth. Mass DOT will is partnering with Sendza, a growing Massachusetts communications software company based in Marlborough to make the 511 travelers information service available May of 2010.

This is the first time 511 traveler information will be available statewide as it was previously only available in eastern Massachusetts. The traveler information will give drivers the ability to automatically receive personalized travel information alerts via e0mail, text, or phone. The partnership with Sendza is of no cost to the state creating a one time savings of $4.1 million and a $1.2 million annual savings for MassDOT. The 511 information service currently handles about 500,000 a month. The Sendza-based 511 system is not only capable of this but holds the capacity for significant growth as the system’s availability spreads.

This partnership is a perfect example of our new transportation reform approach, working to deliver better statewide service to travelers at a reduced cost to taxpayers

-Governor Deval Patrick

July 21, 2000 the Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as the single traffic information telephone number for use by states and local jurisdictions. Traveler information systems have helped reduce travel times, decrease fuel consumption, and reduce the number of accidents. Massachusetts implemented 511 on October 15, 2007 providing real time traffic, transit, weather, and construction. The 511 traveler information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

The new Mass511 system will go live in May 2010. For the latest information, check back at www.mass.gov/511 To learn more about Sendza, visit www.Sendza.com.

Lincoln Tanker Out of Control

This past Tuesday January 12th a speeding tanker drove out of control crushing three vehicles injuring two people. Rush hour traffic was detoured from Route 2 as it was closed until 11:30am. Nancy James saw the tank in her review mirrors and tired to quickly turn out of its path. The tanker however crushed James’ car and continued down the road to obliterate two additional vehicles.

Nancy James was pulled from her vehicle by a witness and after the accident walked away from the crash site. Elizabeth Buchanan, driver of the second vehicle, was sent to Emerson Hospital for minor injuries. However the tank driver, John Revene, was not as lucky. Suffering from serious injuries Revene was picked up by a trauma helicopter and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment.

This accident may have been much worse as the tanker was carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel at the time. The Department of Transportation has investigated the tanker finding no mechanical issues or faults.  Trans Spec Truck Services Inc, owner of the tank involved in the accident, stated they have not had any like incidents in the past. It has been noted as well that the tanker was driving off the scheduled route when the accident occurred. Investigations of this peculiar accident continue.

Mass DOT & Brockton Police Crack Down

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Brockton police department conducted a city wide safety investigation. The surprise inspection revealed more than a few bumps in the road. The undercover examination was conducted on 85 school transport vehicles bringing children to and from Brockton elementary schools and day cares. As an extension of “Operation Clean Sweep” 12 safety check points were set up to check in on the school’s transportation system.

Inspectors found more than 52 violations by the school’s transportation system. A few of these included: driving with out the proper licensing, overloaded buses, equipment defects, and equipment so old or worn down it was unsafe to drive. This is the second city wide transportation inspection Massachusetts has seen this year. Hopefully these investigations will inspire transportation services across the state to continue following the laws and regulations of safe driving.

Managed Compeition… Success.

April 1st 2008 Massachusetts let the auto insurance industry loose. Shifting from state regulated rates to a managed competition many changes were brought to the Massachusetts auto insurance industry and consumers.

A study by the Department of Insurance analyzing this change included: a preliminary survey of 1,100 consumers, a comprehensive 30-minute survey of more than 4,500 drivers and one-on-one interviews with over 50 insurance agents and executives. This study has shown the overall shift to managed competition to be a positive step for the average Massachusetts auto insurance consumer.

The study showed in the first year of managed competition….

  • Massachusetts drivers saved over $270 million in auto insurance premiums.
  • The auto insurance premium dropped by an average of 8.2 percent.
  • Nine new insurance companies entered the Massachusetts auto insurance market. These new companies entering sparked a competition among themselves, bringing lower rates and better service options to customers.
  • There was a 13% decrease in the number of uninsured cars on Mass roads.

As many consumers saved bundles on affordable auto insurance rates, only three out of four consumers were aware of the insurance market change. The government realizes the lack of knowledge consumers have concerning the new auto insurance industry and hopes to educate the public with more education and outreach.

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