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“Cambridge is a city, not a highway!”
May 23, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

There is an inspiring mural on the back of the Micro Center building in Cambridge, MA. It commemorates the freeway revolt against the proposed I-695 Inner Belt. There are usually cars parked in front of it, but some have managed to get good photos.
posted by smammy (51 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
"There are usually cars parked in front of it"

Oh, the irony....
posted by schmod at 8:49 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had no idea. I assume had 695 been built it would have been removed or slated for removal five years ago with the Central Artery at a cost of $80 million estimated and $350 actual.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2011


Oh, I love that mural. I always see it when I need some piece of kit that nowhere else invariably has.
posted by oonh at 8:58 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mor information about the Inner Belt: Inner Belt Expressway (I-695 and I-95) from The Roads of Metro Boston.
posted by smammy at 9:05 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool bit of hidden history, but why are the people so much bigger than the bulldozer? I guess that's why 695 never got built.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:10 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, yeah, it would've destroyed Cambridgeport on a level similar to Boston's West End. On the other hand, Boston's infrastructure could certainly have benefited from the southwest expressway. The straight shot down to I95 without going via the SE expressway would have been good. The SE expressway has been overwhelmed for years, and the zipper lane is barely a bandaid. (I spent years having to travel the expressway every day in heavy traffic. I'm glad I don't do that any more.) At least we're getting some extra lanes and better breakdown passing capacity on much of 128.

I'm glad they've found a use for the spare bridge down at the 128/I95 interchange, at least. I know some hikers who used it. And one who liberated the state seal from one side of it.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:11 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I usually walk from Central Square T stop to Micro Center, coming in the back way, so I've seen it a bunch of times, but never really thought about it ("Just another Cambridge Mural").

Must have been hard for the protesters to not think a big old "Told you so." during the Big Dig.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:12 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boston is one big reminder how many administrations used to think that building a highway through the middle of a densely populated area was the answer to their problems. The Big Dig fixed some of that (at a very high price), but Storrow and the Pike are still blights on the city.
posted by Plutor at 9:43 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"On the other hand, Boston's infrastructure could certainly have benefited from the southwest expressway. The straight shot down to I95 without going via the SE expressway would have been good."

Good for whom?

Anyway, any story about the Cambridgeport revolt should also mention that the people leading it were not NIMBYs. Their efforts resulted in a moratorium on new restricted access highways for the whole region within 128.
posted by ocschwar at 9:47 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The mind boggles. I can't even imagine what would have happened to Cambridge and Somerville and most of Roxbury/Dorchester if the highway had gone through them built up like the old 93 overpass was. It would have gutted Boston and destroyed Somerville, and by the time the events of the next five years played out, there would have been nothing left of the city.

I've parked in that lot a hundred times, and never really gave the mural much thought. I guess I half-assumed it was some backhanded potshot at Harvard for buying up most of Allston for its own nefarious use. It's pretty amazing that a handful of locals managed to stop it once the wheels of progress were in motion.
posted by Mayor West at 9:49 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that John Baker hasn't told them to paint it over yet. Maybe his clipping service hasn't told him yet.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:17 AM on May 23, 2011


Usually when I drive by that building, I'm grousing about how much time I just wasted exiting off the MassPike at exit 18.

Not being Boston a native, will someone tell me: would this project have made it possible to actually get into Cambridge without waiting 30 minutes on a ramp only to be force fed through a traffic maze that looks like something found in a 3rd world country? Because if the answer is "yes," then they could bulldoze whatever they wanted for all I care.
posted by fremen at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2011


The straight shot down to I95 without going via the SE expressway would have been good.

No, not really. If you look at the map, I-695 would've run through Somerville, Cambridgeport, The Fenway to lead out onto I-95 South at the height of Mass Ave and Melnea Cass, enabling the driver to enjoy the SE Expressway in its glorious entirety.

Somerville wouldn't have experienced much division beyond what is the industrial area outside of Union Sq., but Cambridge would've effectively been torn into two separate entities and Longwood, Brookline, Mission Hill and Roxbury would've been separated from Boston proper, not to mention what would've pushed the Fenway into extinction. All so somebody from the North Shore could get to the Cape somewhat faster.

yeah, it would've destroyed Cambridgeport on a level similar to Boston's West End.

Um, those were people's lives that were destroyed.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:22 AM on May 23, 2011


I can't even imagine what would have happened to Cambridge and Somerville and most of Roxbury/Dorchester…
The Inner Loop in Rochester, NY is not elevated, but built in a cut. It did a pretty good job of cutting off the inner city from the rest of the Rochester area, much to the detriment of the community. There have been various plans to reduce or eliminate it since the 1990s, but nothing has happened so far.
posted by smammy at 10:23 AM on May 23, 2011


God, I miss Cambridge. I now live in New Jersey and as far as I can tell nobody has ever opposed building a freeway anywhere. (well, almost nobody)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:32 AM on May 23, 2011


Regarding the SouthWest Expressway:
Good for whom?
Good in terms of Boston's transit infrastructure.
Bad in terms of destroying communities, which I thought I had made clear.

Um, those were people's lives that were destroyed.
... yes. that was my point.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:34 AM on May 23, 2011


No, not really. If you look at the map, I-695 would've run through Somerville, Cambridgeport, The Fenway to lead out onto I-95 South at the height of Mass Ave and Melnea Cass, enabling the driver to enjoy the SE Expressway in its glorious entirety.

Uh... what? The old Mass Ave/Melnea Cass offramp was practically the northern terminus of the SE Expressway. North of that and you'd be practically into the South Station tunnel and then to the Central Artery. So if you're heading between Boston (or North of Boston) to I95S, you miss nearly all of the SE Expressway. (down through Dorchester, Milton, Quincy, to where there thankfully isn't a service plaza any more at the 3/128 interchange.)

Although to have a moment of derail, my one huge complaint with the Big Dig project is that for however many gazillions of dollars they spent, why the hell did they *remove* the ability to get from I93S to route 1 north? Was there really no path for that? Or did they think it was a narrow enough use case?
posted by rmd1023 at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2011


Why is there a child behind them looking the other way?

It reminds me of the monument in the former Warsaw ghetto where "[t]he back shows a group of Jews being marched to their death." On the back, all of the adults are visibly defeated and look like they know they are going to die. But there is one small child still looking up and looking back. (not my photo but the best I could find that displayed the back mural)
posted by jillithd at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2011


Uh... what?

I think we're talking two different things. I wasn't taking the current 128/95 config into account, with 95 ripping more of Boston apart had it been brought the SE Corridor.

I, for one, do not miss that whole 93/1 merge disaster.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2011


I, for one, do not miss that whole 93/1 merge disaster.

neither do I, except when I want to get from sullivan square to route 1 north. and then I only miss it briefly.

It's a minor transit complaint, really. certainly not on the scale of "there's no n/s rail link" and "the blue line doesn't extend down cambridge st to meet the red line at charles"
posted by rmd1023 at 11:13 AM on May 23, 2011


Why is there a child behind them looking the other way?
I love that child! I don't know if there's supposed to be any strong symbolism there. I interpret it as that kids are'nt particularly aware of this sort of issue, and yet they are most certainly hold a stake in the outcome. I also like that he's carrying a toy bulldozer. :)
posted by smammy at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ha! I didn't even see that it was a toy bulldozer! That's awesome!
posted by jillithd at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2011


The SE expressway has been overwhelmed for years, and the zipper lane is barely a bandaid.

SE Massachusetts is very poorly served by the MBTA, so there are way too many road commuters.

They need lines for the Cape, Fall River and New Bedford. I mean, they're building out the Providence Line in RI halfway to CT - and the entire section of MA from East Providence to the Canal that's south of Bridgewater isn't served at all, despite being a major population center. (The Providence-New Bedford metro area, by itself, is the 37th largest in the country, and the public transpo situation sucks like few others its size.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


SE Massachusetts is very poorly served by the MBTA, so there are way too many road commuters. They need lines for the Cape, Fall River and New Bedford.

Well, we also need a rail system that isn't visibly crumbling with age and neglect, but that doesn't appear to be forthcoming, either. The MBTA is never going to get out from under the crushing debt that got hoisted on them by Big Dig overruns, and until they can stop apportioning large parts of their budget to interest payments (for projects that built highways, natch), public transit around here is going to continue to suffer, and so the highways will keep being wildly over capacity.

A small part of me hopes that gas prices stay this high for another year or two, because that's the impetus that it's going to take before voters start opening their wallets for public transit spending. Sitting in a parking lot on 93 is bad; sitting in a parking lot where your engine is costing $7 an hour to idle is probably enough to make people want to start taking the train.

To the original point, though: the clusterfuck of transportation issues in Boston could be fixed with better public transit funding, in their current state. If the SE Expressway were six lanes of overpass, I don't think there'd be anything short of a second Big Dig that could salvage things.
posted by Mayor West at 1:02 PM on May 23, 2011


They had a line for the Cape, Fall River and New Bedford, but by 1959 they no longer served SE Mass aside from the Boston - Providence line. During those same years, Eisenhower introduced the national highway system and the urban elites were going berserk with their urban renewal plans to eradicate obsolete neighborhoods and replace them with urban villages or warehousing the less fortunate.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:05 PM on May 23, 2011


I do a lot of commuting between Porter Square in Somerville and Quincy. I would kill to see this 695 proposal implemented - getting in or out of northwest Somerville or really just getting from anything north of Harvard Square to any highway is a goddamn travesty right now. While I'm at it, I'd love to see a straight shot from Quincy through Dedham to Waltham/Newton/Natick.

Could someone please explain these counter-arguments? To me they read as scare-mongering unquantifiables that have very little to do with reality.
posted by Ryvar at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2011


Switch "Natick" with "Watertown", obviously 93S/95N is a close enough direct route from Quincy to Natick that it's dickish to ask for more.
posted by Ryvar at 2:59 PM on May 23, 2011


"I do a lot of commuting between Porter Square in Somerville and Quincy. I would kill to see this 695 proposal implemented - getting in or out of northwest Somerville or really just getting from anything north of Harvard Square to any highway is a goddamn travesty right now. While I'm at it, I'd love to see a straight shot from Quincy through Dedham to Waltham/Newton/Natick.

Could someone please explain these counter-arguments? To me they read as scare-mongering unquantifiables that have very little to do with reality."

It's simply this: highways are a terrible thing to live right by, and your convenience as a driver from Porter to Quincy is simply not important enough. Certainly not important enough to trash the left bank of the Charles at Cambridgeport and make it look like the right bank.
posted by ocschwar at 3:13 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's simply this: highways are a terrible thing to live right by, and your convenience as a driver from Porter to Quincy is simply not important enough.

*shrug* Okay, well, I disagree. My commute is 15 minutes longer than it needs to be, which comes out to about 125 hours a year. That's a solid week's worth of waking hours, every year, that I don't see because of hypothetical aesthetic damage someplace I'll never go nor have any interest in. I usually work 70-85 hours a week, and there is no measure to how badly I need that extra week that gets stolen from me every year.

Simply dismissing my needs as "unimportant" does not a compelling argument make.
posted by Ryvar at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2011


Okay, well, I disagree. My commute is 15 minutes longer than it needs to be, which comes out to about 125 hours a year. That's a solid week's worth of waking hours, every year, that I don't see because of hypothetical aesthetic damage someplace I'll never go nor have any interest in.

The aesthetic damage is far from hypothetical. To quote Jon Scalzi, SF author and Mefite, "Being poor is having to live right by the freeway."

The noise costs real money to nearby property owners. And that plus the emissions is a health hazard to nearby residents. The original plan was to run 8 lanes of freeway right behind MIT, which would have made the campus particularly unpleasant to live and study in.

Plus the billions to build and maintain the freeway. All for your 15 minutes. You are not that important.
posted by ocschwar at 3:34 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus the billions to build and maintain the freeway. All for your 15 minutes. You are not that important.

Individually, of course not - don't be daft. But multiplied by the number of people who'd be saving X number of days every year? That's a baseless assertion, right there.
posted by Ryvar at 3:43 PM on May 23, 2011


Actually, let me pre-emptively strive for clarity, here: you are making claims for which there are not only no facts, there is not even a possible metric with which to assess any facts.
posted by Ryvar at 3:46 PM on May 23, 2011


"But multiplied by the number of people who'd be saving X number of days every year?"

Saving X number of days by driving a little bit faster on a route they should not be driving at all?
Need I remind you that there's this thing called the Red Line, which goes from Quincy straight to Porter Square?
posted by ocschwar at 3:48 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Actually, let me pre-emptively strive for clarity, here: you are making claims for which there are not only no facts, there is not even a possible metric with which to assess any facts."

Actually, the rebels in the Cambridgeport freeway revolt were Harvard and MIT professors, who were instigated to produce good documented evidence about why freeways are a bad idea. This is why instead of just cancelling that project, the governor put a moratorium on all freeways within 128.

The reasons are: the noise and emissions contribute to ill health, lower property values, and for a freeway connecting A to C, give no benefit to those living in B.
posted by ocschwar at 3:53 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saving X number of days by driving a little bit faster on a route they should not be driving at all?

"Should" not be driving? That's a judgement you have neither the perspective nor the authority to be making. Personally, I would like to see a world without cars or fossil emissions entirely, but that is not an option. Intelligent people do the best they can with what is available to them while working towards a future that increases what is available to them.

Need I remind you that there's this thing called the Red Line, which goes from Quincy straight to Porter Square?

I certainly haven't forgotten it, but there are several problems there:
1) It takes even longer than driving, amazingly, decreasing my free time by an additional week per year.
2) Taking the Red Line for three months consistently delivered a 50% weekly chance of being accosted by a schizophrenic. I have some pretty terrible past experiences with schizophrenic people and they invariably seem to go crazy during the long North Quincy->JFK segment. Bear in mind that there are 4 rehab clinics within a few blocks of Quincy Center, including one neurological and one narcotic.
3) Ten tries at taking the Red Line home on a Friday night resulted in nine cases of being in the same car or train platform as someone actively vomiting or (Quincy Center Station, here) urinating.
4) Perpetual delays and outages, 'nuff said.
5) Most importantly, I don't have the luxury of leaving work until 1AM-3AM most days during crunch, and the last Alewife train departs Quincy Center at 12:24AM.

In summary: fuck the Red Line.

[Skipping the appeal to authority...] The reasons are: the noise and emissions contribute to ill health, lower property values, and for a freeway connecting A to C, give no benefit to those living in B.

Right, but you're implying an objective determination that the cost to those living in B is greater than the benefits to those in A and C. What I am saying is that there is no possible metric which enables any such determination.
posted by Ryvar at 4:19 PM on May 23, 2011


"
"Should" not be driving? That's a judgement you have neither the perspective nor the authority to be making."

Sure I can. We both know you're talking about a route that is always highly trafficked. And when you're in dense traffic, you are part of the reason for that dense traffic. You are imposing an inconvenience on everyone else, and it is perfectly appropriate for the Commonwealth at large to say, through its policies, "no, Ryvar, you should not be driving from Quincy to Porter, and we will not bend over backwards to make it easy for you."

"1) It takes even longer than driving, amazingly, decreasing my free time by an additional week per year."

Then tough. You already have a commute that is shorter than the T commute. There is no reason for Cambridge to tear itself to pieces to save you a few more minutes.

"Right, but you're implying an objective determination that the cost to those living in B is greater than the benefits to those in A and C."

The health detriments of living near the freeway are well documented. When it's the length of your commute versus asthma rates in Cambridge, it's not just a difference in degree, it's a difference in kind. Public health versus your unusual commute.
posted by ocschwar at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


it is perfectly appropriate for the Commonwealth at large to say, through its policies, "no, Ryvar, you should not be driving from Quincy to Porter, and we will not bend over backwards to make it easy for you."

That's an extremely clearcut case of the statist mentality, right there. This notion you have that the local government exists not to help its citizens meet their needs, but instead to tell them what their needs should be.

A fundamental part of belonging to a representative democracy is this shared idea that the government represents us so that it can better meet our needs. If the basic transportation needs of a large number of citizens outweighs the aesthetic "needs" of a few, then the correct course of action within said democracy is not to reflexively dismiss the former group as you seem inclined to do.

Then tough. You already have a commute that is shorter than the T commute. There is no reason for Cambridge to tear itself to pieces to save you a few more minutes.

Your shrugging dismissal of the quantifiable transportation problems experienced by a large number of Boston residents in favor of your unquantifiable aesthetic preferences and the property values of a very few wealthy residents is amazing to me. It's a synthesis of the worst plagues that inhabit both the liberal and conservative ideologies (preferring intangible ideals to reality, and protecting entrenched oligarchies, respectively). Bravo, I guess?

The health detriments of living near the freeway are well documented. When it's the length of your commute versus asthma rates in Cambridge, it's not just a difference in degree, it's a difference in kind. Public health versus your unusual commute.

I suffer from asthma, and live extremely near the proposed 695 route. If asthma were a legitimate concern it would directly impact me far more than you, and curtail my housing options to a far greater degree than yours. Calling my commute unusual is preposterous - the mile and a half east from Porter to 93S takes 12 minutes at least every morning due to the amount of people driving the same way. 93S is more often than not is STILL crawling at 30mph come 10:30AM every morning due to the amount of people driving the same way. The only thing preposterous is that you can even make that claim with a straight face.

I will say that it's very difficult to argue in a civil manner with someone whose default stance is an implied "fuck you," and refuses to provide any sort of concrete facts to back up their assertions. I've given out specific times, routes, and data regarding transportation problems severe enough to slow this city to a crawl, while you're hand-waving vague public health assertions and complaints regarding aesthetics while cheerleading statism.
posted by Ryvar at 5:11 PM on May 23, 2011


...hand-waving vague public health assertions and complaints regarding aesthetics while cheerleading statism.

“Statism” here meaning, apparently, “government action that benefits people other than me.” Knocking down hundreds of privately-owned homes to build a public highway through an urban core, well, that’s just democracy.

As for me, I'd rather be a statist with Jane Jacobs than a democrat with Robert Moses (or William Callahan).
posted by letourneau at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't find a cite handily, but IIRC, there's a statistically-notable increase in respiratory issues for kids in Somerville compared to other areas that is linked to the increase in pollution from all the I-93 traffic.

Ryvar: I have done that commute. I grew up in Randolph. It is a crap commute. Particularly because most of the path has no breakdown lanes, meaning that a single breakdown brings traffic to a dead stop until emergency vehicles get there and clear it. You're just in a cattle chute. The big dig tunnel has made things much better for that section of it -- partly because of raw traffic carrying capacity and improved engineering and layout, and substantially because of having actual space for working around breakdowns.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:05 PM on May 23, 2011


Also, the stretch north of North Quincy on the red line used to be even longer -- as originally constructed, there were no braintree platforms on the columbia/jfk or savin hill stops. Allegedly, there were technical reasons why they had to have the ashmont/braintree (well, ashmont/quincy at the time) merge north of those stations, but I have always assumed that one of the contributing factors was Quincy Center businesses not wanting to be quite so accessible to the Columbia Point housing projects. (See also, why Arlington isn't part of the red line north of Harvard Square -- there are accounts from the time of politicians complaining that Boston and Cambridge would just put their drunks on the trains to send them north to be their problem instead.)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:08 PM on May 23, 2011


Thanks, rmd - nice to hear from someone else that's shared that commute. It's actually worse in the other direction, because 93S these days squeezes down from 4 lanes to 3 around exit 15 all morning, every morning. Even in the best of times, though, the speed limit is 45MPH from exit 26 all the way down to half a mile before exit 12 which is just beyond infuriating.

(See also, why Arlington isn't part of the red line north of Harvard Square -- there are accounts from the time of politicians complaining that Boston and Cambridge would just put their drunks on the trains to send them north to be their problem instead.)

It's a valid complaint. Quincy Center is simply drowning in human misery at this point as Boston's disenfranchised get pressured further and further south. Every girl at work gets hassled almost daily, the rehab centers plus the mental health center make the place a parade of sketchiness - I've called the cops on a situation 30 seconds out from a rape (3 rough types backing a crying, panicking girl up against a wall in the Ross Garage), open drug dealing (Ross Garage stairwell), and was at work just a few floors up the night of the double-shooting outside Club 58.

Honestly the most disturbing encounter, though, was an older guy just walking down Hancock street from the direction of the Mental Health Center. Looked perfectly normal middle-class mid-50s until he passed and I smelled something *terrible* - and turned around to see his entire backside was completely covered in caked-on human feces.

I lived just a mile west of Quincy Center for 3 years and what separated me from all of this was the Burgin Parkway - a highway that cuts straight through Quincy and is the sole reason that West Quincy is Norman Rockwell's suburbia while the town center tries to patch over the greater metro's social services failures with a $1.2 billion coat of paint. This is probably a big part of why I don't buy highways through communities being that terrible a thing - it was a remarkably effective firewall between myself and some pretty shocking urban blight for a long time.
posted by Ryvar at 6:44 PM on May 23, 2011



That's an extremely clearcut case of the statist mentality, right there. This notion you have that the local government exists not to help its citizens meet their needs, but instead to tell them what their needs should be.


Dude, this mural is all about local government meeting the needs of their citizens by not destroying their homes for a freeway. You need to realize that if you proposed a new freeway project from 93 through Porter Square going west, your fellow citizens, myself among them would oppose it.

And, part of being a citizen is knowing when your interests directly conflict with those of others, so you can spare them the trouble of pointing it out to you. I mean, okay, it takes you 12 minutes to drive from Porter to the 93 onramp. You should realize that if we knew back then what we know now, there would be neither a 93 nor an onramp to it at Union Square. But to widen your path to it would take knocking down houses at Union Square to widen the roads, and the homes that remain would lose value, and be less pleasant to liv ein, and that would discourage developers from continuing to rehabilitate that area. This is why Somerville has been doing the opposite, and narrowing roadways through Union Square for the last few years. That through-traffic, they Do Not Want.

As for me, until my sciatica kicked in, I would ride that distance from Porter Square east on Beacon Street on my bike commute.

Your shrugging dismissal of the quantifiable transportation problems experienced by a large number of Boston residents in favor of your unquantifiable aesthetic preferences and the property values of a very few wealthy residents is amazing to me. It's a synthesis of the worst plagues that inhabit both the liberal and conservative ideologies (preferring intangible ideals to reality, and protecting entrenched oligarchies, respectively). Bravo, I guess?

You really should read up on the Freeway revolt. It started as Not In My Back Yard and escalated to Not In Anyone's Back Yard, precisely because our elite knows itself to be an elite and to have some responsibilities. That's why we've not had any more freeways.

See also, why Arlington isn't part of the red line north of Harvard Square -- there are accounts from the time of politicians complaining that Boston and Cambridge would just put their drunks on the trains to send them north to be their problem instead.

There was some of that, but Arlington also had a more reasonable objection. They were willing for the Red Line to go THROUGH Arlington, so long as it didn't only go TO it. They didn't want to host everyone's parked cars on the endpoint to the Red Line. So when the MBTA failed to plan a route all the way to Concord, Arlington vetoed it and it ended in Alewife.
posted by ocschwar at 7:14 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]



I lived just a mile west of Quincy Center for 3 years and what separated me from all of this was the Burgin Parkway - a highway that cuts straight through Quincy and is the sole reason that West Quincy is Norman Rockwell's suburbia while the town center tries to patch over the greater metro's social services failures with a $1.2 billion coat of paint. This is probably a big part of why I don't buy highways through communities being that terrible a thing - it was a remarkably effective firewall between myself and some pretty shocking urban blight for a long time.


Okay, that can make me more sympathetic. It sounds like Quincy is becoming the new Lynn, and that should not be. We do have a legislature that has stated that each town should bear an equitable share of the burden of taking care of unfortunates. I live in Medford. We have our share, and Davis Square certainly has its share ( and I am not referring to the hipsters.)

That said, putting more of these unfortunates under lock and key has got to be cheaper than any major infrastructure project.
posted by ocschwar at 7:21 PM on May 23, 2011


It sounds like Quincy is becoming the new Lynn, and that should not be.

I dated a girl who lived next to a subsidized housing project in Lynn a couple years back, and yeah, that sums up the situation precisely. In response, the management is putting up $1.2 billion in bonds to revamp the heart of the city. I appreciate where their heart's at, it's certainly long overdue and the plans look nice - but none of it addresses the fundamental problem: the greater Boston region has an ongoing social services nightmare that our better-than-the-other-guys-at-least healthcare system isn't impacting. Shuffling around the disenfranchised sure as shit didn't work in Seattle when the bottom fell out of the dot-com boom, and it's not working in the here and now, either.

Bringing this full circle: I spend my days and most of my nights at work, so I have not had the luxury of developing much of an emotional attachment to particular places like Cambridgeport or really anywhere. What I do know is that Boston driving is (and I can't believe I'm saying this) more frustrating and inscrutable than Manhattan, LA, or even Seattle's no-seriously-the-town-drunk-did-our-initial-layout-look-it-up road system. Davis is the one place I've got some affection for, but to be completely honest if a raised highway straight through the heart of it shaved ten minutes off my commute I'd vote for it in a heartbeat. Chalk it up to priorities.
posted by Ryvar at 7:56 PM on May 23, 2011


"Bringing this full circle: I spend my days and most of my nights at work, so I have not had the luxury of developing much of an emotional attachment to particular places like Cambridgeport or really anywhere"

Dude, work to live, don't live to work. If you have no attachment to what makes Boston less of a miserable dystopia than so much of the rest of America, well then, you have all the rest of America to make your oyster.
posted by ocschwar at 8:17 PM on May 23, 2011


I live about a quarter-mile from where the road would have gone through Roslindale (a lot more people in Boston would have been affected than in Cambridge; and one of the leaders of the Boston fight against the road was this obscure guy from Hyde Park named Tom Menino). A superhighway would make it infinitely easier for me to drive most places, since we're about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can be within the city limits.

But thank you, Gov. Sargent, for canceling this thing and not repeating the mistake of the Central Artery and keeping large parts of Boston livable neighborhoods instead of turning them into a short cut for drivers.

For what it's worth, the money the state saved from the project went into mass transit (mostly tearing down the Orange Line elevated and moving it next to the Northeast Corridor and commuter-rail line).
posted by adamg at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2011


Bringing this full circle: I spend my days and most of my nights at work, so I have not had the luxury of developing much of an emotional attachment to particular places like Cambridgeport or really anywhere

What puzzles me about this outlook in general (and I work in an office full of people with exactly the same complaint) is: why would you pick Quincy as a place to live when you work north of the river? You're living in a place where you're paying a massive premium for easy access to the Red Line, which you clearly hate, and then you're ignoring it and making the worst possible commute (SE->NW across the city during rush hour) to your office. Rather than displace 5,000 people and spend $5 billion to build the Ryvar Turnpike, why don't you move somewhere closer to your job, or where the commute is easier? The Red Line north of, say, Savin Hill is the best line on one of the best public transit networks in the country (and yes, I'll pause for a moment to reflect on what a shitty statement it is about American public transit options when I'm holding up the Red Line as the gold standard), and subway commuting is way better than car commuting. I spend about 2 hours on trains and subways every day, and I'm still less miserable than I was spending an hour in a car to go the same distance.
posted by Mayor West at 8:33 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ryvar, you should move.
posted by whuppy at 9:28 PM on May 23, 2011


Gonna bow out of this thread before it spirals any further into the interaction of my location problems and Boston transportation. Suffice to say that from where I'm standing 695 doesn't sound like the worst idea in the world.
posted by Ryvar at 10:04 PM on May 23, 2011


Interesting bit of local history. I used to live in Cambridgeport and consider it one of the more charming neighborhoods in Cambridge (indeed, in the entire metro area). I'm imagining a post-695 Cambridgeport looking something like 93 around the Charlestown/Somerville line and Central I guess like Sullivan Station. That would have been unfortunate.
posted by 6550 at 1:14 AM on May 24, 2011


I spend my days and most of my nights at work, so I have not had the luxury of developing much of an emotional attachment to particular places like Cambridgeport or really anywhere.

That's sad to hear. I hope it's a temporary situation and that you win back more of your time from work.

What I do know is that Boston driving is (and I can't believe I'm saying this) more frustrating and inscrutable than Manhattan, LA, or even Seattle's

No question, Boston's driving is the worst. Manhattan drivers are rude, but competent. Boston drivers are both rude and incompetent.

I moved to Boston from Southern California. I no longer own a car. I walk to many of the palces that I used to need to drive to, and I love it. But if you really want to move quickly from work to home, almost any other city in the US would fit your lifestyle better. Or at least set it up so that your commute doesn't "cross the Charles". That's a piece of advice that's given in every AskMe "I'm moving to Boston threads".

Good luck, man.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:20 PM on May 24, 2011


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