John F. Carr
2012-06-24 01:15:16 UTC
Route 128 (I-95) at Route 20 in Waltham, Mass. According to the
newspaper a retaining wall collapsed.
Southbound traffic stopped. A bunch of people decided it was only a
mile or two to the Route 20 exit and they could drive there on the
shoulder. The result was five lanes of stopped traffic instead of
four. A MassDOT truck aproached on the shoulder, lights flashing, to
get to work on the flooded section. It took some time for cars to
move to let him through. When he passed cars returned to the
shoulder. A police car (SUV) approached on the shoulder and the cycle
Ten or twenty minutes later (a half mile or a mile) I passed a broken
down car on the shoulder. People were shifting into the right lane to
pass it then returning to the shoulder.
When I got to the chokepoint there were two police cars on the right,
blocking the shoulder and right travel lane. There was some debris in
the road there, washed down from higher ground. On the left was a
MassDOT truck preventing people from driving into a deep puddle.
The right lane blockage was before exit 26. People driving on the
shoulder had to merge back into the middle travel lanes. All the
switching back and forth left everybody worse off than if they had
stayed in a travel lane.
A man on the left shoulder was in water up to mid-calf poking a stick into
the water. I assume he was trying to clear a drain blocked by debris from
the failed retaining wall. Through the Route 20 interchange the median
is the low point. In most of Waltham the right lane is the low point
and is dangerous during rain. In Lexington the left lane usually has
ponding during rain. Today the median was dug up and water flowed into
the work zone instead of flooding the left lane.
Total delay was about 40 minutes. WBZ traffic reports were as helpful
as ever in such cases, which is to say they reported traffic was
slower in that area.
I didn't notice anything on the overhead variable message sign. Most
likely it was flashing the same stupid message all the other signs in
the state were flashing and I ignored it.
The Globe reports:
"State Police said flooding contributed to the closure of two lanes on
Route 95 near Exit 20 in Waltham, reducing travel to only one
southbound lane. A retaining wall collapsed nearby, State Police said,
forcing the closure of a breakdown lane and a right travel lane on
Route 95 south. It was not immediately clear if that incident was
John Carr (***@mit.edu)
John Carr (***@mit.edu)