Bad Drive Boston: your least favorite Boston-area intersections/rotaries...

Inspired by this thread

Greater Boston, of course, can be a wicked hahd area to drive in.

So Boston-area dopers, what are your least favorite intersections? Which rotaries make you twitch uncontrollably? What roads make ye abandon all hope when ye enter them? And for fun, what roads are unexpectedly wonderful, a sweet, sweet release?

For me, the evil ones are:

Powderhouse Circle near Davis Square in Somerville. The rotary is wide enough for two lanes, but there are no lanes marked. This means cars will weave around as they please, cutting off people all the time. Cars on the outside are always cutting off cars on the inside as they continue around the rotary, and vice versa. You don’t enter the rotary so much as venture gingerly in until you’re sure that no car or truck coming from one of the seven or eight places you need to look will cream you.

Memorial Drive and JFK St. near Harvard Square
Just shoot me now!! There is always such an unholy festering backup there, particularly if you are coming from Harvard trying to get to Brighton.

Storrow Drive and the Msgnr O’Brien Highway at rush hour.

Dewey Square, South Station
Big Dell hell. The shape of the square used to change every week with the construction. Now it’s probably ever other month.

Riverway/Jamaicaway intersections - particularly Jamaicaway and Perkins, or Riverway and Longwood. There is NO left turn lane, and those unfortunate enough to be making left turns off the Riverway (which is illegal in rush hour, but people do it anyway) are forced to hold up everyone behind them trying to go straight, as they try to cut left across two lanes of fast oncoming traffic.

Cleveland Circle
Ambiguous lanes, multiple left turn options from Chestnut Hill Ave South. Double parkers everywhere. Potholes. Above-ground trains. It’s all kinds of Boston driving all in one happy intersection!!

Harvard St. in Brighton/Brookline
Never, EVER drive this road on a Red Sox home game day.

Well, there’s lots more, but I’ll leave it to other posters.

And my unexpected joy?

Greenough Blvd, Cambridge. So fast, so wide! Never traffic! Why? I don’t know. Pity so short.

Hmmm, I think there are too many to list. My main two:

The dreaded Twin Rotaries at Fresh Pond I have to drive to and from work through these every day – I had my first major accident around one when I was 17, and I still fear them. Adding to the confusion is the “Little Dig” going on around here (my office is right between the two rotaries) and you get traffic… from hell!

The whole hospital district between about 8 AM and 6 PM, especially when the Sox play – my girlfriend works at Beth Israel hospital, picking her up or driving her in requires me to have a gin & tonic afterwards just to calm my nerves.

There are plenty more, but I need a Valium now just thinking about these two…

How 'bout Winter Street turning into Summer Street? Is that name-changing thing rampant or what? I heard that there was a blue law stating that any street intersecting with Washington Street had to change names when it crossed, but that sounds a little fishy to me.

<quick hijack>
What’s the rule for right-of-way within the rotary? I know that vehicles entering the rotary have to yield to those in the rotary, but once within, what are the rules? If I am in the outside lane of a two-lane rotary, am I required to leave at the first available turnoff? If I am in the inside lane, can I leave at any available turnoff, or do I have to get into the outside lane first? I’m oftentimes in the outside lane, and I don’t take the first-available turnoff – that means I’m frequently given the one-finger salute from drivers in the inside lane who are trying to exit. Am I right? Am I wrong?
</quick hijack>

I believe that Washington St. rule is correct, though I don’t know if it’s actually a law or not. In any case, Winter St. is so short and stubby that it’s almost pointless for it to have its own name.

Here’s another one:

How could we forget the infamous Lower Deck. Clogged rush hour morning and evening, and on Sunday, and at other quite unexpected times. A rickety, sickly green structure. Everytime I drive it, I get a beautiful view of the new (deep breath) Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, under construction, which looks so much nicer than the Tinker Toy set I’m driving on. I can’t wait!

I’ve been out of Mass for about 5 years now, but I 'll cast a vote for the area in Braintree/Quincy where 93(128), 37, & rte 3 converge (I think thats everything, but there’s probably a few more roads converging at that point). Especially where you had to cross 5 lanes to get to Boston at the last second. Its by the South Shore Plaza (Logan Express stop). The cars coming from 37 were the risk takers, if I can remember correctly.

As for the rotary rule, once you’re in there, you’re on your own! But as a courtesy, you SHOULD be in the outside lane when you decide to exit - it saves lives!


I’ll vote for the Jamaicaway - certain death anytime!

Not an intersection, but I HATE getting off of the end of the Pike and heading north on 93. What is up with the traffic there?

And I’ll second the Fresh Pond rotaries. Most rotaries in fact scare the hell out of me.

A side note: I picked up a friend from South Carolina at Logan, and headed south on 93. She was in shock. “How do people know which lane they’re in? There are no lines!”

She wasn’t in any hurry to drive in Boston.

Ho ho ho ho…where do I begin?

All the intersections/rotaries I’d mention have already been mentioned, especially the Lower Deck…grrr…

I second what labtrash says about the the 128/37/93 converge. NEVER, EVER attempt driving through there during rush hour or during a big sale at the South Shore Plaza unless you want to flirt with a certain death…shudder

I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the infamous Braintree Split where Rte. 93 becomes 128 on the right and Rte. 3 on the left. Woe to those who forgot to get into the correct lane before the split – I’ve had out-of-town friends finding themselves heading toward the Cape instead of going toward Rte. 24 and 95 only because they couldn’t switch lanes in time. Actually, as I think of it, switching lanes during rush hour takes not only nerves of steel, but also kamakazi talents…AAARUGH!!!

As for “nice” intersections/rotaries, I’ll get back to you on that…

The Sumner Tunnel is the work of idiots and the spawn of Satan. Whoever designed that peace of crap deserves to go to hell. You basically have the the major artery from the airport and the North Shore leading to… a dead end. People in other parts of the country probably won’t believe it but this tunnel just turns into a series a one-lane 90 degree turns to other, even more congested routes. The result is that you can spend the better part of your life in there once you are in. I had a contracting job in Lynn last week and took the Callahan tunnel on the way in. No problem. I got there in 1 hour flat. On the way home, I took the same (opposite going route). I was stuck in traffic for 1.75 hours trying to get through that stupid tunnel and it wasn’t even an unusual day. I traveled 7 miles in that time. Total time to home: almost 3 hours.

Ha! Ha!

Four years in Boston, and I never once had to drive!

'course, that didn’t stop me from hating nearly all of those intersections as a pedestrian …

Hee! Driving in Boston! What fun!

Each and everytime my friends come visit me they immediately hand me their keys and close their eyes.

Everyone says Boston drivers are horrible and aggressive and mean and blah blah blah. How would YOU like it if you had to drive around a city that is constantly changing it’s layout ala Dark City Roads disappear over night or change into one ways or dump you out in a completely different place…it’s madness.

So, my picks:
[li]Another vote for the J-Way…just try taking a left turn near the Pond.[/li][li]Storrow Drive…watch out! Reverse Curve![/li][li]Harvard Sq…on the weekend…at night…the pedestrians are like frogs after the rain[/li][li]The Waterfront…it just sucks.[/li][li]And another vote for the lower deck…shudder[/li][/ul]

Navigability: Bell Circle in Revere, where 1A, 16, and 60 come together, along with a couple of side streets. There’s even a lane with stoplights that takes Route 60 traffic right across the rotary. It took me months to figure it out completely. When visitors come, I always make sure to pick them up at Logan or they’ll never make it.

Slowness: Leverett Circle at rush hour, especially with the ramp changes.

Accident likelihood: I am fortunate to live in a particular suburb with 3 of the top 10 intersections in the state in terms of accidents per year. They all suck about equally.

But I’m through with all that - I have a new job in Maine, I go against the traffic, with the speedo pegged just to keep up with traffic on 95, and I get there sooner than if I had to go around 128 to some western suburb.

FTR, traffic in the rotary has the right of way, and it’s even starting to be enforced enough to get people to learn it now.

Ha, Mogwei! “Reverse curve” LOL… I’ve always wondered if that was something like a spoon with the concave side reversed.

Actually, though, I love traffic circles. I wish there were more of them… they move traffic along so much better than traffic lights! Why, when I think about how smooth it is to go through Powderhouse in Somerville versus getting through Davis Square’s intersection (via College, or Highland, or whatever the other two streets are named).

My least favorite intersections: Main and (I think it is) High street in Somerville/Medford mix right by the police station. I also hate the Route 2 intersection with 3&16. GAH. You can sit there forever. Why the FUCK they don’t just put a ramp onto 2 west so that crossing traffic onto 16 east doesn’t have to sit there for fucking ever I’ll never know.

Hey, I live right by Fresh Pond. I love those two circles! What pisses me off is all the lights just passed them by the T station which comepletely defeat the beauty of a good traffic circle.

I haven’t driven into Boston proper, um, ever (except for the jog to Storrow via the 28 exit on 93 South) so I dunno about that, but I am rather un-fond of the spot where commonwealth passes, er, 2? I dunno, you loop around to cross the Charles. Stupid intersection.

Finally, the dumbest merge I have ever seen in my entire life: 93 and 95 while on 93. Lesse, let’s make sure that all the slow traffic getting on 95 has to merge with all the slow traffic getting OFF 95. DUH. I shudder to think that anyone got paid to design that mess.

But, all in all, I love driving here. Every day is an adventure! Of course, I work out of the city so rush hour doesn’t really affect me. :wink: Lucky, lucky.

Washington St marks the route that General (or was he President by then) took back to NY from Boston. Any yes, every street that crosses Washington was forced to change names so his street would have more stature.

Before the current intersection of Rt 2 and 16, it used to be a rotary. Imagine coming down the Belmont hill, 4 lanes of traffic at 60 MPH that suddenly becomes 2 lanes then hits a rotary. Trust me, that used to be a lot of fun.

I loath getting off 93 from the north heading to the airport. You come down that ramp and see a useless flashing light which I guess signifies that all bets are off. You have to cross two lanes of traffic to get to the tunnel enterence and it’s pretty much every car for themselves. I like to stay in the left lane and wait until a taxi pulls up next to me, then use them as a shield as I sneak out into the intersection.

Not really an intersection, but Rt 16 in Somerville has lanes roughly the width of two bleacher seats at Fenway. It is pretty much impossible to stay completely inside your own lane in anything larger than a Suzuki Swift, with oncoming traffic usually over the center line and two semi-rotaries popping up out of nowhere, no one sure if the right-of-way rules apply, not that it has any bearing on what they would do anyways.

Heck, simply staying in your lane at Logan requires the keen attention and eyesight of a hunting bird of prey.

Oh, the lights in front of Alewife are to thwart the multitudes who use the back way through Alewife to avoid the Rt 2/16 intersection. They’re the ones making a right turn from the righthand left turn lane. (Did that parse?)

Telemark, I just saw a guy get ticketed the other day for failure to yield at the 16 circle just before Boston road. Yay, victory for the yielders! (I really do love traffic circles, though why they would ever be more than one lane blows my mind).

And it is good to know that I am not the only one who looks to taxicabs as shields. Really, they are a mixed blessing.

It’s gone now, but how about the merge on the lower deck? Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. All those folks coming in from the Tobin and needing to get off by the Garden, it was like those old figure-8 smashup races.

My sole experience with driving in Boston is going from Route 2 to the Longwood medical area, specifically Childrens. Oh. My. God. It’s hell on wheels. How anyone not reasonably familiar with the area could survive is beyond me.

Item#1: Route 2/16 intersection. It actually isn’t this that bothers me so much as Route 2 before you get to that intersection. Massachusetts has a nasty habit of not maintaining roads very well, and the road is absolutely covered with lines a patching tar as you head east. This, coupled with the sun in the morning, makes seeing the lines damned near impossible. This is on a four lane highway where 80 mph speeds are common. The other nasty bit is merging down to two lanes. Ever been fearlessly nudged out of your lane by a big red van? It’s quite an experience.

Item#2: Storrow Drive. I HATE Storrow Drive. There’s on particular intersection along it where I needed to find the middle lane. This middle lane is VERY hard to find, because it sort of appears from nowhere. I learned the hard way that getting into the middle lane from the left lane during rush hour is flirting with death.

Item#3: taking the turns and merges to get from Storrow to Longwood. The layout is such that this is more a game of “memory” than following the signs. I’m telling you, roads in Boston are not designed to be traveled on - they are meant to be observed, as an example of design gone horribly wrong.

Here’s another one:

93 South, Exit 18 to Mass Ave Roxbury
Trying to get to Mass Ave or Melnea Cass Blvd from here is really hard, especially if it’s your first time, and you’re deluded enough to think that the Rand McNally super atlas is providing an accurate picture of what’s really going on here!!!

It’s a Satanic landscape, a massive running-track shaped rotary, suspended over a major highway, with tight 3-lane curves at each end, and multiple ramps with tiny tiny signs in front of them.

Rt. 16 and Mt. Auburn St, Cambridge
Two major roads intersecting at a scissors angle. Complete with aboveground electric T buses. There must be a solid 2 acres of unmarked dead free-for-all pavement in the center of the intersection. Crossing the intersection on Mt. Auburn St. in either direction, you completely lose sight of your trajectory - you have no idea if you’re going to end up in the oncoming traffic lane on the other side - it’s a leap of faith - I hear “highway to the danger zone” in my head every time I cross it.

Hey, what does the blinking green light on the Alewife Brook Parkway mean? Does blinking green mean: “Jes’ keep on goin’! You’re doing fine!”

Ah yes, one of my favorites as well. If you’re coming from Newton, you first have to merge onto 4 lanes of hell-bent-for-leather traffic, none of which are really sure which lane they want to be in. Then you must merge across both lanes headed for the Pike to get into the rightmost left turn lane. What suprise awaits you next? An immediate merge with 4 more lanes of traffic that you have to cross to get to Watertown.

Or, if you want to go on Charlesbank you just kind go with the flow, ignoring the street signs that were clearly installed by vandals and malcontents. Finally you veer left onto a tiny little street that turns 90 degrees and spits you out into fast flowing traffic.

How about the entire mess where the Pike meets the SE Distressway?