Boston's Labor Day Traffic Ranks Fifth-Worst Nationwide

Boston Travelers Advised to Avoid Friday Departure to Beat Traffic

Aug 28, 2012, 09:00 ET from INRIX

BOSTON, Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Every Labor Day, millions of Americans hit the road for one "last" summer weekend, and 2012 will be no different according to INRIX, the leading provider of traffic information.  INRIX predicts that Boston, the ninth-most congested city in the U.S.,[1] will claim the fifth spot for the worst cities for weekend road-trippers.

"As a gateway city as well as a popular destination, Boston will experience some of the worst traffic on the Friday getaway day,"  said Jim Bak, INRIX Director of Community Relations.  "Friday traffic will be like one long rush hour starting at 7:30 a.m. and lasting well into the evening.  If you can leave Saturday, do it.  If not, be prepared for a long travel day." 

Key insights from INRIX's Boston area research include:

  • Travelers expecting to leave on Friday should wait until after 9 p.m. to avoid the worst time to travel, as traffic will become busy starting at 7:30 a.m. with traffic congestion peaking after 11 a.m. and lasting well into the evening.
  • Boston travelers going to either Portland, ME, or the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket should expect their trips to take twice as long, with significant delays on both I-90 and I-95.
  • Travelers to Cape Cod can expect their trip to take 3x longer than normal with traffic congestion peaking on key routes at 5 p.m. Friday.
  • Bristol-bound drivers hoping to avoid the Cape Cod traffic should take I-95 via Providence to lessen their delays.

Traffic patterns on Friday, the big holiday getaway day, will be heavy throughout the entire day in Boston, not letting up after the usual morning rush.  Area residents who cannot put their trips off to Saturday morning should prepare to leave late on Friday night or endure a long tedious trip to their Labor Day destination.  Given the expected increase in the number of holiday travelers, combined with ongoing road construction and unexpected delays due to accidents and other incidents, Bak advises travelers to use free tools like the INRIX Traffic app, to help ease drivers' getaway trips with up-to-the-minute information about traffic conditions and travel times.

Additional information about traffic delays heading to popular road trip destinations Boston residents is as follows:


Worst Time to Travel

Best Time to Travel


4 – 7 p.m.

After 9 p.m.


1 – 2 p.m.

Before Noon

While most cities have no morning rush hour to speak of on the Friday before Labor Day, Boston proves the exception. With traffic becoming busy after 7:30 a.m. conditions will remain hectic throughout the day, and exceptionally slow traffic will torment holiday travelers after 11 a.m. until almost 9 p.m.

Saturday appears to be much lighter, which indicates that most drivers will have made their getaway journeys already.

Boston to Cape Cod, MA
In previous years, drivers on the southbound I-93 have experienced speeds of 15mph before reaching Quincy, a journey that takes one hour in average traffic conditions.


I-93 and I-495 S

Route 3 S

Length of Journey

82 miles (1 hour 33 minutes)

72 miles (1 hour 32 minutes)

Worst Corridor



Average Speed

24 mph

25 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

3 hours 25 minutes

2 hours 52 minutes

Boston to Bristol, RI
With Cape Cod travelers taking the I-93, INRIX advises Bristol-bound traffic to take the I-95 via Providence. Downtown Providence traffic will slow to 15 mph but back-ups will soon ease after the interchange for I-95 south. 


I-93  and I-95 S

Length of Journey

66 miles (1 hour 22 minutes)

Worst Corridor

Quincy, and Providence

Average Speed

28 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

2 hours 17 minutes

Boston to Mashantucket (Foxwoods)
I-90 will be heavily congested westbound between Boston University and Framingham around 5 p.m., with average speeds of just 20mph.

To avoid these queues, drivers can take MA-30 and Worcester Street to re-join the Mass Turnpike after Framingham, where average speeds will reach approximately 30mph.


I-90 W and 1-395 S

Length of Journey

102 miles (1 hour 58 minutes)

Worst Corridor

From Boston to Sturbridge

Average Speed

33 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

3 hours 5 minutes

Boston to Portland, ME
The most direct route to Portland is to take the northbound I-95, but drivers should expect five mile back-ups near Salisbury because of the New Hampshire tolls.


I-95 N

Length of Journey

108 miles (1 hour 58 minutes)

Worst Corridor


Average Speed

34 mph

Friday Travel Time w/Traffic

3 hours 11 minutes

INRIX® is the largest global traffic intelligence platform in the world, delivering smart data and analytics to solve transportation issues worldwide. INRIX crowd sources data daily from more than 100 million vehicles and devices to deliver traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services, across six industries in 31 countries.

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[1] As determined by the 2011 INRIX Traffic Scorecard, released May 2012.  For more information, see