Traveling for the Fourth of July? Here’s what to know before driving in Mass.

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With Fourth of July around the corner, this Monday feels a little less manic. As many of us look ahead to the short holiday week, here’s what you should know before hitting the road for that day trip or vacation:

Gear up for heavy traffic. Nationally, 71 million Americans are expected to travel this July Fourth, including an approximate 1.9 million people in Massachusetts, according to Mark Schieldrop, spokesperson for AAA Northeast. Combine that with two major roadway closures in Boston, and it will likely result in some fireworks on the roads. If you’re planning to get behind the wheel this week, here’s the traffic forecast from MassDOT:

  • Wednesday, July 3: This will be the busiest travel day this week, according to MassDOT’s traffic data. Especially because drivers will have to plan around Storrow Drive being closed to traffic starting at 3 p.m. AAA recommends hitting the road before noon.
  • Thursday, July 4: MassDot suggests drivers avoid morning travel, when the roads will be most congested. Traffic should be lighter in the evening (especially during the fireworks). MBTA trains, buses, ferries and the commuter rail will all be free to ride after 9:30 p.m., too, in case you need another reason to leave your car at home.
  • Friday, July 5: Expect heavy traffic midday as travelers return home for the weekend. The good news: Storrow Drive reopens at 6 a.m. The bad news: The monthlong Sumner Tunnel closure begins.
  • For the weekend: Roads will be busiest during the morning on Saturday and midday Sunday.

Speaking of cars: Beginning today, electric vehicle drivers in Somerville can expect to pay 25 cents per kilowatt-hour to charge up at any of the city’s 12 public charging stations. The change is part of a larger effort, “Charge4Charge,” to encourage better charging station etiquette and reduce the “frequent reports of misuse and vandalism” at EV charging stations.

  • According to the city, 2,300 drivers charge up Somerville’s public EV charging stations each month. And while many EV owners charge at home, plenty rely on public chargers, too. Access to a public EV charger has its perks, but spots are limited, can fill up quickly and often have long wait times. Officials hope the fees will discourage idling, resulting in quicker turnover at EV parking spots. The new fee structure will also help offset the cost of maintaining the city’s charging network, and bring revenue to help build more charging stations.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday it would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants from Haiti due to the ongoing political crisis in the small island nation. TPS was set to expire in August 2024, but will now extend until February 2026. Haitians currently living in the U.S. without TPS can begin applying for the protection today.

  • Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says the change is welcome, but not a long-term solution: “They have 18 months that they’re protected here and can live and work here. But what happens beyond that remains a question mark.”
  • Go deeper: According to census data, there are currently 77,000 Haitians living in Massachusetts. Boston City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune discusses the history of Haitian immigration to the state in this Q&A.

Today marks the start of Boston’s 42nd annual Harborfest, a four-day celebration of the city’s revolutionary history. Festivities kick off today at noon with a cake cutting and performance by the Army band. The fun continues through the Fourth of July at Christopher Columbus Park, Downtown Crossing and Boston Harbor with family-friendly events, musical showcases and, of course, Chowderfest. You can view the full Harborfest schedule here.

P.S.— Did you catch Friday’s Reddit AMA on the history of busing in Boston’s public schools, with our education team and The Emancipator? If not, check out the thread right here.

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