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A cool look at some convention-traffic hot spots

Page 3 of 4 -- Parking matters The city's pilot program for "pay and display" parking, on Union, Batterymarch, Water, and Kilby streets and the centralized pay-per-space system on Cambridge Street at City Hall Plaza was set to end in June, when the vendors vying to replace Boston's 7,000-plus coin-operated meters were supposed to take their demonstration equipment away (the old meters will be stuck back in the sidewalks at those locations). But the newfangled systems will remain in place through convention week and into August, said Dan Hofmann, deputy commissioner for field operations for the Boston Transportation Department.

The new systems, where drivers pay at a centrally located station, which accept dollar bills, for their spaces, will be evaluated for user-friendliness, ease of maintenance, and enforcement effectiveness, Hofmann said. One big plus is better "coin discrimination" technology to foil the use of slugs, he said, though the reported use of New Hampshire toll tokens (12.5 cents when bought in bulk) is not widespread. In the meantime, the coin sensors on all the old meters are being recalibrated, as they were a few years ago when scofflaws discovered that poking a strip of cardboard in the slot sometimes made the meter go out of order.

Sundays blues Southbound Interstate 95 is notorious for heavy volume Sunday afternoon and evenings, as vacationers return from Maine and New Hampshire. Drivers can breeze through the Hampton tolls without paying, thanks to the northbound-only toll system established by Governor Craig Benson. But last Sunday about 8:30 p.m., wrote Erik of Dorchester, a southbound lane was blocked in Massachusetts for resurfacing work, the equivalent of doing major construction work during rush hour on the Southeast Expressway.

The breakdown lane was available, explained Massachusetts Highway Department spokeswoman Judith Forman, but drivers weren't using it just in the work zone, leading to major tie-ups. Nevertheless, all work on southbound I-95 will be suspended Sundays. Instead, workers will do their thing there Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, when the heaviest traffic is heading north.

Pit stops At 8 a.m. Saturday, July 17, North Washington and Cross streets will be modified, according to the Big Dig. North Washington Street northbound between Cross and Thatcher streets will shift about 150 feet to the east, the left turn or U-turn from Cross to New Chardon street will move about 200 feet to the north, and Cooper Street from the North End will be reopened. . . . A large truck lost control last week, careered through the Sagamore rotary and crashed into the Bourne fire station. No one was hurt. The rotary and the fire station are set to be replaced in a $58 million grade-separated interchange project targeted for completion by 2007. . . . Why doesn't Governor Mitt Romney simply reappoint Christy Mihos to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board? It could be he plans to install state transportation secretary Daniel Grabauskas into the Mihos slot, to get a jump on the de facto state takeover of the authority. This month the Legislature passed a bill making the transportation secretary the chairman of the authority board, but not until 2007. Mihos, whose term has expired, was excluded from board proceedings last week. . . . Drivers have noticed that the cameras inside the Dewey Square tunnel are covered with bags, but Big Dig spokesman Doug Hanchett said temporary cameras to monitor accidents and incidents are operational; southbound I-93 traffic is being routed through the west bore of the renovated tunnel until early next year, when three new lanes open in the east bore, the last major milestone for the $14.6 billion megaproject . . . The Boston Common parking garage, run by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, in early fall will begin accepting credit cards for the first time, and plans also call for an automated teller machine.   Continued...

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