Going Nowhere Fast: The Worst Traffic Spots In Jewish BostonLike many of you I spend a lot of time in my car. My normal commute isn’t terrible, only about 18 miles door-to-door, but there are times when I end up spending 90 minutes driving home from whichever locus of Jewish life I’m working at that day. With that in mind, and a recent traffic nightmare fresh in my memory, here’s my take on the most awful traffic and driving situations around Jewish Boston this roving Jewish professional finds himself in when work calls for hitting the road.

Natick/Framingham: The Mass Pike

Hello, Captain Obvious. I love being able to drive by the signs on 128 at the Pike exit that show the transit time from Weston to Westboro- 18 miles, 40 minutes on most days. Even that short 7-mile drive to Natick/Framingham can take forever. Plus, with all the action at the Natick Collection Mall, Speen Street can have its own monumental backup, making things even awesomer.

Is there another way to go?

Pick your poison. Route 9 can be dreadful, and usually is, as the Wellesley and East Natick traffic lights have ripple effects for miles in either direction. And if you want to try Route 30, you’d better start early or leave late, because it’s not much better. Depending on where are you going or coming from, though, you can navigate between this area and Weston and Waltham via Routes 126 and 20. Shhhh.

North Shore: Any drive to Swampscott/Marblehead

Unless you live there and make the short commute to Boston, getting to this little outpost of Jewish life drive feels like reenacting the wanderings of the Israelites. From my office to Swampscott is 40 minutes on a good day, and then getting home is then another 45 minutes minimum, of which 25 minutes are a stop-and-go drive through Lynn and Lynnfield.

Is there another way to go?

Not really, although you can take the Tobin Bridge to mix it up, as opposed to following 1A all the way from Logan.

South Shore: Getting to and from Sharon

Not a few people I know do the Sharon-Newton or Sharon-Boston (!) commute and I feel empathy towards them. Heading around the looping off ramp at the 93/95 split heading north, or the slow crawl from the Route 9 lane drop in Wellesley to the turn-off to 95 South in Westwood, can be complete misery. Plus these southern Jews have to deal with Gillette Stadium traffic on a regular basis. Sorry.

Is there another way to go?

You think Route 1 is better? Go for it.

NorthWest Suburbs: The 128/3 North off-ramp, Burlington

For anyone who lives in Bedford, Lexington, or anywhere along Route 3 heading up to New Hampshire, this exit causes backups all the way down to Route 2 on a good day, or down to the Mass Pike on a bad day. And it doesn’t get any better once you’re on 3 North, either, as the cars coming on from the Route 62 exit at MITRE in Burlington or the technology parks in Billerica will have you riding the brakes all the way into Chelmsford.

Is there another way to go?

Yes, but the back roads through Bedford or Burlington are always jammed with people who have the same idea as you. Trust me. I live on one.

Brookline/Newton: Route 9 at Hammond Street

Hell on Earth is the intersection of Route 9 and Hammond Street in Chestnut Hill. In either direction, at any time, it could be a 15-minute backup to get through the intersection. There are times when it’s taken me 40 minutes to get from Longwood to the Chestnut Hill Mall. It almost makes you feel bad for Tom Brady, who is building his, uh, “house” in this neighborhood on the south side of Route 9.

Is there another way to go?

Sort of. I sometimes try the Heath Street-Hammond Street- Newton Street-Memorial Spaulding-JCC route, but it’s quite a detour and I’m not sure that it’s actually faster. Also, there is a way to take Reservoir Road all the way past Brimmer and May and then reconnect with 9 West. At times it’s a lifesaver, although you can still run into 9 West traffic all the way from the top of the hill at Langley Rd. Good luck.

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