The Mass Pike Horror To Come

mass pike massachusetts turnpike

The Massachusetts Turnpike. (Sean Pavone)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- I am old enough to remember when those of us who live west of Boston thought we had it made in the shade.

While South Shore commuters faced the daily agony of the Southeast Expressway and the Braintree Triangle of Routes 28, 128 and 3, and North Shore drivers dealt with the misery of Bell Circle and the Mystic River Bridge, we had the Pike – the rarely-bottlenecked, wide open, beautiful Pike, well worth the toll pittance.

Those were the good old days, but they’re long gone.

The Pike is the new poster boy (or is it poster girl?) for horrendous traffic, and according to consumer watchdog Mary Connaughton of the Pioneer Institute, “it’s about to get a whole lot worse.”

In a Globe op-ed, Connaughton points out that the Comm. Ave. bridgework that we had to avoid the last two summers was just an appetizer for the gridlock festival to come if the state goes ahead with elevated reconstruction of the crumbling BU viaduct, the part of the Pike that overlooks Nickerson Field and Storrow.

“For years the turnpike’s eight lanes would be reduced to six in the work area,” she writes. “The Worcester commuter rail line would be forced to operate on a single track with possible weekend closures for two years. Such degradation of commuter capacity might surpass levels experienced during the Big Dig.”

For newcomers to the city, that’s like saying they’re preparing a new form of commuter torture that will make waterboarding seem like a relaxing soak in the hot tub.

There are less intrusive alternatives, and every candidate for state office ought to be asked which one they back.

But at the rate Boston-area traffic is headed, in a few years, our city will need a new name – LA without the palm trees and Botox.

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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