'Big Dig' Closure Worries Boston Businesses

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Businesses in the Boston area are growing increasingly concerned about how the partial closure of the city's main highway system — and ensuing traffic nightmares — will disrupt their businesses.

The Interstate 90 connector tunnel, which links two main highways and serves as a primary route to Logan International Airport, was closed indefinitely on July 10, when large concrete slabs fell from the ceiling and killed a motorist.

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Since the accident, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's Central Artery Project, better known as the Big Dig, has undergone inspections, where hundreds of other potential construction flaws have already been discovered.

All vehicles have since been rerouted through Boston's notoriously curvy streets, while many motorists say they are terrified to use even the tunnels that remain open — resulting in unprecedented traffic jams.

"We have 75 trucks on the road every day and our strategy is to avoid the critical areas, take side roads, and leave early," said Courtney Scott-Howard, director of marketing for Gentle Giant Moving, based in Somerville, Mass. "If this goes longer than a few weeks, we will definitely have to implement some sort of contingency plan."

For businesses that charge by the hour, ethical decisions are being made as to how to handle the additional time on the road.

"Right now, we are absorbing the costs and we are hoping for a very quick resolution," said Kristen Vasserot of QLS Limousine Service, based in Attleboro, Mass. "If this continues, it is going drain our revenue and hurt our bottom line."

Boston's busy summer tourism season has also taken a hit as a result of the closure. The city has added more subway trains to help meet rising rider demand.

"I am sure it has affected our business community," said Erin Murphy, director of communications for the Boston Chamber of Commerce. "What we are most concerned about is that the problems are going to be identified and fixed relatively quickly."

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