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State officials say traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels

"Traffic, for all intents and purposes, is back to about 2019 levels on most roadways in Massachusetts at this point."

Traffic on the Tobin Bridge heading north ahead of the Memorial Day Weekend. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

While residents are celebrating the end of many COVID-era restrictions, one thing has returned that no one missed: traffic.

In a June 21 board meeting, Highway Administrator John Gulliver said transportation officials are “seeing a return to a lot of previous travel times,” according to the State House News Service.

“Traffic, for all intents and purposes, is back to about 2019 levels on most roadways in Massachusetts at this point,” he said.

There are several exceptions to this, and patterns continue to shift.

Gulliver said traffic on certain sections of the Mass Pike “is running a little bit lower, especially the closer you get to Boston,” CBS Boston reported. Apparently, fewer vehicles are traveling through the tunnels to and from Logan Airport than before COVID hit.

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Other roads are even busier than they were before COVID, including the I-93 Southeast Expressway between the Braintree Split and the Massachusetts Avenue Connector, and Route 24 between I-93 and Route 27. Gulliver said morning and evening rush hours remain crowded but don’t last as long as they did before the pandemic, the State House News Service reported.

“People seem to be traveling shorter trips and they are mostly mid-day trips,” he said. “I think we’re in for a really major adjustment period that’s going to occur throughout the fall and early winter before things settle.”

A 2019 Global Traffic Report Card from INRIX named Boston the most congested city in the United States. While the city had come in seventh the year before, the 2019 INRIX report looked at how much longer drivers spent in traffic during peak times than in normal conditions. That new metric put Boston at the top.

As offices continue to reopen and Boston commuters return to working in-person, traffic patterns may continue to shift.

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