July 17, 2006


Boston wonders: Is Big Dig fixable? (Donna Leinwand and Dennis Cauchon, 7/17/06, USA TODAY)

Boston residents endured years of upheaval and detours to get a highway system touted as an urban planning breakthrough. The Big Dig took ugly, congested, elevated highways that divided the city and moved traffic into tunnels and onto an attractive new bridge.

When the project neared completion two years ago, Boston was ready to embrace it. Residents spoke glowingly of a 15-minute zip across town to Logan International Airport.

A single traffic fatality changed that.

It would have been a breakthrough if they'd gotten rid of the roads in the first place.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2006 8:00 AM

People don't belong in cities. But as long as they are stuck living in cities, you shouldn't begrudge them the freedom that their cars provide.

Posted by: Daran at July 17, 2006 8:10 AM


Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 8:20 AM

Being bonded to the car still beats being a slave lashed to public transport.

Posted by: Daran at July 17, 2006 8:49 AM

They're lashed to their feet. They can choose a master if they wish to be slaves.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 9:02 AM

Get rid of the cars and let our cities complete the transformation to being identical to their European counterparts.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 17, 2006 9:37 AM

Ike adopted the Highway system from the Nazis.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 9:42 AM

If nothing else, the Big Dig's problems at least seem to be putting the nails in the coffin for the Gowanus Project down in New York.

Posted by: John at July 17, 2006 10:30 AM

Well, something has to be done about the Gowanus. The elevated portions are a disaster, and have been for years, and are a drag on the neighborhoods, which are gentrifying as the professional classes move south from Pk Slope in search of more affordable housing.

They need to tear down the elevated portions and sink it below street level -- as it has always been south of 65th street as it feeds into the Verrazano. This does not mean making it a tunnel, just placing it in a deep cut.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 17, 2006 10:55 AM

So? The Nazis also loved their children, so is that a reason that we shouldn't? (That you brought them up shows you've run out of arguments and are resorting to trolling the comments of your own postings....)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 17, 2006 11:15 AM

And since when did you change your name to Sean Whitcomb and become a spokesman for Seattle Police?

Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said the only exemptions from the 72-hour rule are for cars with valid state disability license plates or placards.

"In other areas, the law states that cars must be moved every 24 hours," Whitcomb said. "Seattle's ordinance was written to reflect the fact that many residents commute to work using alternate modes of transportation. Leaving your car at home is encouraged."

He said one solution is "to use your car twice a week to run errands or shop for groceries. A mile roundtrip is sufficient to give evidence that the car has been moved. Two miles per week is not an unreasonable burden for those wishing to preserve the environment and do their part to ease roadway congestion. If this is still too much, consider ditching the car altogether and consider one of the many other options available."

[Emphasis added]

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 17, 2006 12:14 PM

Jim --

The big problem with the Gowanus project, as it relates to the Big Dig, is the tunnel plan would take traffic coming from Manhattan through the Battery Tunnel, then to street level to meet the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, then back into a tunnel 50-70 feet under the canal, then back up to meet the Prospect Expressway, then back down along Third Avenue and back up at the 65th Street split to get it over the subway tunnel going to Staten Island or down to the Belt Parkway. A real roller coaster that would restore Third Avenue in Brooklyn (and make it easier to get to the Home Depot), but would no doubt suffer from the same cost overruns as Boston and do just as little to actually solve the traffic problem.

The elevated section does need replacement, but an open cut along Third Avenue and a replacement bridge over the canal would be the lesser of the two evils if they have to build a new road.

Posted by: John at July 17, 2006 12:30 PM

"When the project neared completion two years ago, Boston was ready to embrace it...."

I don't remember that.

"a city that loves flawed greatness... in hometown politicians (John Kerry, Michael Dukakis)"

Nobody remembers that.

USA Today just made this stuff up.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at July 17, 2006 1:54 PM

John, tell me is the B'klyn/Queens Expressway finished?

Posted by: erp at July 17, 2006 3:23 PM

erp --

Sisyphus is the contractor for the construction on the Brooklyn side of the highway leading up to the Kosciusko Bridge.

Posted by: John at July 17, 2006 4:08 PM


Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 4:11 PM

I'm not an engineer, but the idea of building a tunnel ceiling by hanging multi-ton slabs of concrete from steel bolts seems incredibly dumb. Did the designers never hear of the amazing invention called the arch?

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 17, 2006 4:13 PM

So, it's a no.

When we left Queens in 1963, the BQE had already been "in progress" for many years. I'd say it's celebrating its golden anniversary right about now.

When I saw the Gowanus Canal mentioned above, I started googling and saw that Newtown Creek in Williamsburg is also being yuppified. What a concept!

When we were kids, we wondered why it was called a "creek," because we had no clue that it was supposed to be a body of water. Next time we go north, we'll need to check it out.

Posted by: erp at July 17, 2006 6:48 PM

When it comes to transport, oj is a wahabbist. Let him be. He is a pure believer.

Not that he has other good points.

Posted by: Ed Bush at July 17, 2006 9:12 PM

When it comes to to evil of personal transport, oj is a wahabbist. Let him be. He is a pure believer.

Not that he doesn't have other good points.

Posted by: Ed Bush at July 17, 2006 9:15 PM

erp --

The Post actually had a story on Monday about a nature conservancy for the Gowanus Canal. considering the yuppification of the nearby Carroll Gardens to the north and Park Slope to the south, I guess it isn't that surprising. How they feel about spending billions to bury the highway under the canal remains to be seen (my guess is they don't want the elevated highway and they don't want the 10-15 years of construction a Gowanus tunnel would require and they don't want all those cars headed to and from Manhattan on their side streets. But they want the city to do something).

Posted by: John at July 18, 2006 11:29 AM