Thursday Power Outage in Cambridge Ruined Evening Commute

Over 14,000 NSTAR customers in Cambridge lost power Thursday evening, plunging whole neighborhoods into darkness and causing a commuting headache.

Somerville residents faced a nasty commute Thursday evening when a significant power outage in Cambridge led to major delays on the Red Line and gridlock on Cambridge streets.

Many Somerville residents work, study and shop in neighboring Cambridge, and those who work in Boston travel through that city on their way home.

The outage affected over 14,000 NSTAR customers in Cambridge, about 30 percent of the city, according to the electric company's power outage map, though according to Boston.com as many as 17,000 customers (34 percent) were without power at one point.

The outage started at around 4:30 p.m., Boston.com reported Thursday night, and it plunged much of the city, including the Harvard and MIT campuses, into darkness. By 7 p.m. the power was back on.

WCVB reported gridlock on Cambridge's dark streets, at the height of the evening commute, as police officers directed traffic by hand.

The Red Line experienced significant delays—one Twitter user reported an hour-and-a-half trip from Alewife to the Longfellow Bridge—according to the transportation authority. No T riders were stuck in tunnels, according to Boston.com.

Below is Somerville Patch's coverage of the event as it unfolded. If you have any crazy stories related to the outage, about your commute or anything else, we'd love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Update, 7:25 p.m.: Power is back on in Cambridge, according to the NSTAR power outage map, which says only 14 customers were without power as of 7:15 p.m. WBUR reported power was back up and running to the city as of about 6:50 p.m.

Update, 6:40 p.m.: It looks like NSTAR has made significant headway in fixing the power outage. According to the NSTAR power outage map, updated at 6:30 p.m., 4,649 customers were without power in Cambridge, about 9 percent of the city's customers. That's down from over 14,000 customers, almost 30 percent of the city, that was without power earlier this evening.

Update, 6:32 p.m.: The MBTA's Twitter feed says, "normal service is resuming" on the Red Line.

Update, 6:03 p.m.: Here's the current alert from MBTA.com: "The Red Line is experiencing significant delays between Park Street and Alewife Stations due to a power problem in the City of Cambridge. Please use alternate transportation where possible."

Update, 6 p.m.: WCVB has a photo of Cambridge in the dark, with a police officer directing traffic. The TV station's website said there's gridlock on the roads. See it here.

Update, 5:55 p.m.: If you're following on Twitter, some people are using #cambridgeblackout to post updates and snarky comments.

Update, 5:47 p.m.: Cambridge police are reporting the power outage problem will take hours to fix. Here's what they Tweeted from their account, @CambridgePolice:

"NStar says major transmission line failure to blame for the power outage in #CambridgeMA. Will take several hours to fix "

Update, 5:45 p.m.: Boston.com was reporting large parts of the MIT and Harvard campuses were also without power. The online news site said the power outage began at around 4:30 p.m. and was possibly due to a problem with a transmission line.

Cambridge police said the problem will take hours to fix, according to Boston.com.

Update, 5:40 p.m.: As of 5:30 p.m., 14,731 NSTAR customers were without power in Cambridge, according to the NSTAR power outage map. That represents 29 percent of the city, the map says.

There were also reports of lost power in North Cambridge.

Original story:

Cambridge was experiencing a major power outage Thursday afternoon, causing significant delays on the Red Line.

According to an NSTAR power outage map, updated at 4:45 p.m., 13,947 customers in Cambridge were without power, representing 28 percent of all the utility company's customers in that city.

The MBTA's website said the Red Line was "experiencing significant delays due to power problems" as of 4:50 p.m.

Boston.com reported that no T riders were stuck in the Red Line tunnels as a result of the outage.

One Somerville resident who works near the Museum of Science  contacted Somerville Patch to say her entire office building was without power.

On Twitter, @rvolynsky reported there was no power in Cambridgeport, which was "really spooky."

If you have more information about the Cambridge power outage, leave a comment below. We will try to update readers when more information is available.

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mplo November 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I was on my way home from having dropped my mom off at her house in Brookline, after having taken her to and then picked her up from a doctor's appointment a couple of hours later. The evening commute in Brookline was nothing big; it was just the typical evening rush-hour commute traffic. When I crossed the B. U. Bridge into Cambridge and then turned right onto Memorial Drive, however, things took a different, nastier turn; Memorial Drive, always jammed up on both sides during the evening rush-hour, was super-jammed, and traffic was slowed to an almost-total standstill. Many traffic lights weren't working, so we had to slowly crawl through intersections, going through darkened residential streets, as well. Cambridge, on the whole, was completely backed up with nasty traffic, like it had never been before. It was an extraordinarily slow, arduous commute, but I eventually made it home. Whew!
mplo November 30, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I meant "two hours earlier". Sorry for the typo in my posted comment above.
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