Those traveling in Boston on Friday night -- including many traveling from Boston's Logan International Airport after the Thanksgiving holiday -- encountered lengthy traffic delays near the Sumner Tunnel, which was closed for several hours after a tractor-trailer got stuck during rush hour on Black Friday.
Massachusetts State Police say they received a call around 4:20 p.m. Friday for an over height Volvo tractor-trailer that had struck the ceiling of the tunnel, bringing the drive through the tunnel to a standstill. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation confirmed the truck was stuck on Route 1A southbound, with Boston police noting that traffic was detoured to the Ted Williams Tunnel, including from East Boston and Logan Airport.
“This 18 wheeler got stuck in the tunnel because it was way too big for the space,” said Alexis Den Boggende, who was in an Uber just behind the truck. "I'm a pretty claustrophobic person so I got pretty claustrophobic."
The truck had entered the tunnel from East Boston.
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“It felt like a movie scene,” said Adam Khanboubi who was farther back in the tunnel.
He was also stopped and couldn’t go anywhere as he tried to make it to the Celtics game at TD Garden.
“As soon as I hit halfway to the tunnel I was stuck there for over an hour,” he said. “I was just trying to figure out if anyone was going to come and help us, no one knew what was going on, no one was helping.”
Bostonians are used to trucks that are too tall getting stuck on Storrow Drive. In fact, Boston police tweeted an over height truck "storrowed” in the Sumner Tunnel.
There are multiple signs leading up to the tunnel alerting truck drivers about the maximum height allowed.
The driver, a 36-year-old man from Dixon, Ontario, has been issued a citation for motor vehicle related offenses, police said.
Drivers were warned to expect delays. Video shared with NBC10 Boston showed lines of traffic on Black Friday, when many hit the roads to return home from Thanksgiving, others went out to find the best shopping deals, and some were on their way to watch the Celtics take on the Sacramento Kings -- not to mention the Friday evening commute for those who worked Friday in the city.
At least one person was seen pulling his suitcase as he walked in between two lanes of parked cars, while another man was standing outside his car. Several others were seen walking away from their vehicles, as well -- some in Celtics' jerseys.
Khanboubi told NBC10 Boston that he saw multiple people leave their ride-sharing vehicles on foot. He was able to eventually back out of the tunnel.
Up in the front of the traffic jam, Den Boggende's Uber made it out after an hour and twenty minutes of waiting for crews to take care of the truck.
“They were able to take the air out of the tires,” she said. “They lowered the truck to get him to move safely to the side and we could move forward.”
The state police commercial vehicle enforcement section responded to conduct an inspection of the truck, while MassDOT inspectors came in to make sure there were no significant issues with the tunnel.
Just before 7 p.m., MassDOT said the major artery had reopened, and state police added that the scene had been cleared.
Boston's Sumner Tunnel was open this weekend, Nov. 25 through Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving travel, even though the tunnel is currently undergoing some much-needed repairs and has been shut down every weekend since June 10.
Next May, the 88-year-old tunnel will shut down completely for four months, then for many more weekends into winter 2023.
Drivers have been forced to regularly find new routes. Instead of cruising underneath Boston Harbor to get from East Boston or the airport to the city center, the roughly 29,000 drivers who use the tunnel each day have been rerouted to the Ted Williams Tunnel or on a winding detour into Revere and Chelsea.
Opened in 1934 as the first traffic tunnel in Massachusetts, by now it's got chipped, cracked and crumbling concrete; rusty reinforcements; broken lights and a torn-up road. There are structural safety issues that require top-to-bottom repairs.