The strange odyssey of a $1.6 million U-turn on the Massachusetts Turnpike took another twist yesterday when the road's director said he was likely to let the public use the ramp soon, possibly this month.
The U-turn ramp at the Allston toll booths, once celebrated as a tool in the fight against congestion, has been restricted to taxicabs and buses since it opened in October.
Few cabbies have opted to use it because they worry that passengers will think it's a trick to boost their fares.
So the heavily engineered structure sits there like an empty parking lot.
Turnpike officials have said repeatedly that they need to keep the restrictions or risk inviting new environmental regulations. But those fears seem to have vanished.
"We're hoping the next month or so we can open it," said Alan LeBovidge, executive director of the Turnpike Authority. "We believe we can handle the traffic."
Fewer than 60 cars per day were using the ramp earlier this year, and a third of the drivers were doing so illegally. The ramp was designed to accommodate 1,200 to 2,000 cars per day.
The ramp is positioned just before the Allston toll booth to allow easier travel between Logan International Airport, Back Bay, and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Even when it opens to the general public, drivers will have to own a Fast Lane pass to pay the electronic toll, yet to be determined. Cabbies pay a $2 toll. Bus drivers pay $3.