Aug 31, 2022 - News

How to survive Boston's worst traffic day

An electronic traffic sign reads "Do not use storrow" on the median as cars wait at a red light.
Do not use Storrow unless you want a bunch of Boston drivers pissed at you. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Boston-area renters and commuters are buckling up for the most dreadful traffic day of the year, coinciding with the end of August and Labor Day weekend.

What’s happening: The Boston area welcomes some 200,000 college students back ahead of Labor Day. Combine that with the thousands of post-graduate renters clearing out their apartments and hopping a neighborhood over, and it’s a recipe for a traffic nightmare on Sept. 1.

  • And there are always the students who take a U-Haul down Storrow Drive, despite all warnings against it, and crash into an overpass. (There were reportedly 34 cases of “storrowing” last August.)

Why it matters: The Boston area’s reputation as the home of world-class colleges, hospitals and biomedical companies has made the region a coveted destination for aspiring professionals. But it's also resulted in a major housing shuffle come Sept. 1, as landlords cater to the college crowd’s housing cycle.

  • Plus: This year the region’s biggest move-in day coincides with the shutdown of the Orange Line and the Green Line extension, which has led to the deployment of hundreds of buses adding to street traffic to fill the void.
Pro Tips

⛔️ The closures are poised to affect every commuter in the region, which is why MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak warned people to "avoid the region altogether until the diversion period has ended.”

  • If you are moving, avoid the bus-only lanes lest you slow down bus traffic.
  • Use a trucking GPS app if you rented a moving truck so you can easily avoid roads like Storrow.

🗓 Plan ahead, but don’t expect truck rental companies — or anyone, really — to honor their commitments.

  • Julia Roy, a recent Boston University graduate, reserved a U-Haul back in July to hold her belongings in between moving out of her Allston apartment on Aug. 27 and into Dorchester on Sept. 1, but she was told a day before her lease ended that the moving truck would only be available for an hour.
  • She ultimately found a U-Haul in Natick and, after a half-hour Uber ride, packed her belongings Saturday and placed them in a Waltham storage facility ahead of her move.

Be smart: You might want to join the thriftiest locals in the tradition known as “Allston Christmas,” in which you take home desks, chairs and other furniture left behind as people move out.

  • Don’t bother taking home mattresses or anything with fabric, unless you want bed bugs, and sanitize everything you can.

Be cool: Traffic jams are a way of life on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, whether you’re on Storrow or Commonwealth Avenue.

  • “It is what it is. We’re just driving,” Victor Rivera, a ridesharing driver and musician from Roxbury, tells Axios. “Everybody has a place to go, so there’s no need for any anger.”
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