Monday, December 31, 2007

A few Boston observations

Image of bike rack in Brookline, Massachusetts
Image of bikes locked to fence in Beacon Hill in BostonI've neglected my blog for nearly two weeks, as I traveled to Maine and Boston for the holidays. I didn't have time to really investigate bicycling conditions in Boston, a city on the cusp of serious progress for bicycling thanks to a supportive Mayor Thomas M. Menino. I enjoyed this whimsical bike rack in Brookline, as well as these bikes locked to a fence in my onetime neighborhood of Beacon Hill.

I also had an opportunity to walk along the new Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, created by the expensive burying of the Central Artery (Interstate 93). The infamous "Big Dig"--or what I like to call Tip O'Neill's parting gift to Boston--was declared officially "finished" this month after 16 years of disruptive construction.

The elevated Central Artery was certainly an eyesore, one of the highway era's most criminal assaults on a city's life. The Big Dig "remedied" this foolishness by burying the roadway, becoming the most expensive highway project in U.S. history as its cost swelled far beyond the original $2.7 billion estimate to a final price of just under $14.8 billion (Graft? In Boston?!?). For that sum the Boston region could have created a world class transit and light rail system, and eliminated the need for any freeway.

Boston is certainly much better without the elevated freeway blight. The city's waterfront is reconnected to downtown, and the new greenway is a welcome amenity for visitors and residents. And just as San Francisco's demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway attracted new waterfront development, new projects are springing up in the wake of I-93's undergrounding. Perhaps it's time for a national movement to roll back freeways and restore the vibrancy of urban life?

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

3 comments:

Fritz said...

Welcome back (presumably) and I hope you have a great 2008, Paul.

clark said...

a similar debate has waged in seattle for some time about the fate of the alaskan way viaduct, a 56 year old double decker expressway along the waterfront that gets in the way of downtown's interaction with its elliott bay water edge. i think they're going to take it down. i must say i have mixed feelings about it. while i can see how destructive it is, driving the route in a car is also kind of neat itself. the lanes are narrow, speed relatively slow and there are interesting art deco type detailings on the concrete and metal bridge parts, which are thoroughly blackened from almost six decades of car exhaust.

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