Sunday, August 31, 2008

Salem’s Last Road: Moving on

Bypass road south looking towards St. Peter St.

I’ve gotten a flurry of comments on the bypass road, all of them critical of the road and its impact.  I don’t usually respond to comments in the comments, figuring it’s a place for the readers  (and also that it’s hard to have a good dialogue in the comments, the way most blogs are set up.)

But one person (anonymous) assured me I had “no idea” of the traffic noise of the new bypass road at their residence.

Try me.

I took this video at the corner of St. Peter and Bridge, outside my apartment.  You can see it in the image that starts this post;  it is the pinkish-red building in the foreground.

I definitely hear traffic.  I hear trains.   I hear the “jake brakes” of large trucks as they go up and down the incline over the train tunnel.

I’ve said before I don’t like having a five lane road between me and the train station.  The Howard St. side of the Jefferson apartment complex is a cruel joke, locked in by roads on three sides.   The $16 million spent on the road looms large considering that the new train station will cost $30 million which could have paid for completely by the state, instead of having to seek private investment.

There’s a reason I called it Salem’s Last Road, because the cost (financial, municipal and emotional) of any more new roadways is far beyond any benefit we can get from them now. 

The bypass road is Salem’s counterpart to Boston’s Inner Belt Project, the proposed Rt. 695 spur off 95 that would have taken 7,000 homes and irreparably changed huge parts of Boston and Cambridge.

The difference is that the Inner Belt was stopped.  It turned out to be the beginning of the end for highways in Boston (heralding the Big Dig’s last hurrah.)

The Bypass Road wasn’t.

We can argue over which Bypass Road resident is most deserving of pity. 

That won’t change what happened.

Remember, too, that the northern side of Bridge St. was never “waterfront property”.  The Boston and Maine railroad property was there even before current residents of Bridge St. were born.

It was a transportation corridor to begin with.  No surprise that the state wanted to do something more with that right-of-way, and in those days that meant car traffic.

All of those years that politicians lobbied for new roads to solve our problems have come back to bite us.  I hope the next time I advocate for better pedestrian access and public transportation, that the bypass road critics will take note.

In the meantime, don’t blame me.  I only documented the project.  It’s not like the News or the Gazette would have spent time on letting citizens know what was being paid for in their name.  Talk to some of the dear old cronies out there sitting on their butts, the old Representative or Councilor or Mayor Whoosis’ who let this happen.

I’m not interested in tallying bypass road pity points.  I’m moving on.

P.S.  I’ve forwarded the comment about the motorcycle races to Mike Sosnowski.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry David, but as a Salem resident who lives in the Derby street neighborhood, and works in North Beverly, I see the bypass road as a complete Godsend. The lessened traffic on Bridge Street makes it a much more pleasant street, and the number of cars cutting through the Collins cove streets seems greatly reduced as well. I, and other regular commuters, save about ten minutes in the morning, and 15 to 20 in the evening getting home. I've also seen my car avg mpg increase since the bypass opened due to less idling in traffic and stop and go.

The benefit to many outweighs the inconvenience to several.