A cure for the Mass Pike debacle
Then, about 15 years ago someone got a bright idea to remove the elevated expressway and to create the biggest construction project ever attempted in the United States, known collectively as the Big Dig. The highway is now gone, the Big Dig was finally finished a year ago, and guess what? It's a parking lot. OK, it's not as bad as the old highway, but it ain't solving major traffic woes either.
Now, the Big Dig was very very expensive. Like 14.6 BILLION dollars expensive. For a bit over 7 miles of road, tunnels, and bridges. Plus there were a lot of problems. Problems that caused cost overrides. Which in turn cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth much more money than we had initially been told when the project was planned.
The Big Dig isn't all bad. In fact, it has totally changed the look and feel of the city of Boston, especially around the waterfront. Before the city was divided into two distinct areas by the central artery (the expressway) and the waterfront was not really available to the people of the city.
When the artery came down, the city had miles and miles of land that was begging to be turned into parks and public spaces, opening up the waterfront and changing the entire feel of that part of the city. The Greenway is a series of parks, fountains, playgrounds and open areas with gorgeous views of the waterfront.
OK, so that's the background. Now, the big issue today is, how the hell does the Commonwealth pay for all the cost increases. We owe big money and we need to pay for our parks and tunnels and bridges. Everyone agrees that we have to pay the money. But we certainly do not agree on how to raise that money.
The Governor has suggested that the tolls on the Mass Pike, the road that goes from Boston to the NY border be raised. Only he wants to raise the prices only from my small city, which is 6 miles from the Statehouse, into the city itself. All those other tolls, the ones that start at the NY border and run more than 100 miles through the western part of the state? Why, we've dismantled those tolls. Why? I have no frigging idea. Stupid stupid idea.
Not only does the Gov want to raise the tolls from my town into the city, he wants to triple the cost of crossing a bridge or using a tunnel. Now, have you ever flown into Boston? Because if you have, you'll notice that the airport is right on the water in East Boston. And to get there you HAVE to go through a tunnel. A tunnel with a proposed fee of $9.00 to just get to the airport. And another $9.00 to get home. Plus, the tolls. Don't forget the tolls. An 8 mile trip could cost over $20 just to use the road.
Guess how pissed off the citizens are? REALLY pissed off. Monumentally pissed off. For people like my friend I, who commute on the Pike every day to and from work, the cost is going to almost triple if this proposed increase becomes law. Who the hell can afford this? Plus, because this surcharge starts in my city, people are going to use our surface streets even more than they already do in order to avoid the tolls. More traffic that our already packed streets cannot take.
The other option is to raise the gas tax, which is fine with me. It would be about $.04/gallon and honestly, how much would we all feel that? It's a lot better than the damn tolls.
But I have a MUCH better idea. Came to me in a lightening bolt tonight after yet another nutsoid SUV driver on the phone almost ran into me because he was too busy chatting. You all know that Boston drivers are supposed to be amongst the worst in the world. I would agree with that. They are TERRIBLE drivers here. Why are they so bad? Because we don't really believe in moving violations here in the Commonwealth. You have to do something incredibly agregeous to warrant a ticket. Like mow someone down. Otherwise, you can drive like a total jackass, and if you have the incredibly misfortune to get caught, the fine is always around $50. Or less.
So I think we ought to do two things. First, we ought to charge the police to actually TICKET those who drive like Massholes. If a moving violation is spotted, ticket the shlub who was doing something wrong. Like talking on a freaking cell phone, drinking coffee, reading a newspaper and driving all at the same time. Oh yeah, not that far off the mark here in the Boston area.
Second, we ought to look at California, a state with excellent and careful drivers, and see what they charge for their tickets. Pedestrian in a crosswalk and you don't stop? $181 big ones. Really. A moving violation like not stopping completely at a stop sign or a yellow light? $370. REALLY. And those are the minimum costs. It only goes up from there. To $3250.00 REALLY!!! Driving in a HOV lane when you're not sharing a car can be, for a first offense violation + court costs could run as high as $590 (depending on what jurisdiction the offender was cited).
Just think how fast we could raise the money to pay for the Big Dig with all the horrible drivers we have here. I think if the police were really diligent and the staties worked the highways for all they can, we'd be raising millions a month. Cause we really suck as drivers and we're never going to learn how to straighten up until we're fined into poverty.
We're cocky here in Boston, and we have never had to follow traffic laws. They're pretty much optional. Just the thought of a massive crackdown would be so awesome. No more left turns from the right lane, my personal bugaboo. God I hate when people do that! No more tailgating so close you want to open the trunk so they can just drive right into your car. No more forgetting what those blinking lights are for on your steering column. No more driving 60 mpg down residential streets or going through red lights just because there's no cop there. No more driving in the opposite lane to make a left turn instead of just waiting for the cars in front of you to go straight.
I'm getting all excited just thinking about it. Opinions? Stumble It! JBlog Me