Choke points

Stay on the right! Near the Zakim Bridge, in Boston.

Stay on the right! Near the Zakim Bridge, in Boston.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

The Boston Herald, in an Oct. 2 article headlined “Choking on Growth,’’ reported on environmental experts warning about the downside of Boston’s booming economy and thus ever heavier traffic: more air pollution and thus more asthma.  Some of this is caused by the fact that there are more commuters, mostly driving alone, and some by such services as Lyft and Uber.

The solutions are obvious: more public transportation and more electrification of the transportation system, meaning more and better subway and street-car lines and more electric-powered private vehicles and places to charge them. To read the Herald piece, please hit this link.



It’s too bad that at this late date the Rhode Island Department of Transportation thinks it has to delay starting reconstruction work on the long-overdue Routes 6 and 10 Interchange project in Providence in order to do another study of lane shifts and closures. The new study might take a couple of months. Apparently this has to do with trying to head off the sort of motorist outrage that accompanied the traffic jams caused by westbound-lane closures needed for repairs on the Route 195 Washington Bridge. But are these situations similar enough to warrant more delays and thus higher costs?
The traffic plan for the 6/10 project was approved in the spring. Are officials reinventing the wheel? Or was the earlier plan somehow clearly flawed? In any event, at least a few of the people reading this will be dead before the project is completed, perhaps in 2024.

The latest snag will almost certainly raise the total cost of the project, which is now estimated at $410 million. But that amount includes $162 million in Amtrak-related work: The interchange crosses the railroad’s Northeast Corridor line. Which makes me think of how nice it would be if there were more rail lines carrying commuters in and out of Providence and fewer polluting and space-taking cars. We can at least hope that the new 6/10 will be less ugly than the current one.