Tag Archives: traffic

Why Worcester is not a capital city

MCAD Building
MCAD building – in Boston

By Gordon Davis

During the late 18th century and the early 19th century the capitals of several Atlantic states moved from port cities to inland locations.

This did not happen in Massachusetts, and Worcester did not become the capital of the Baystate.

There are several reasons for this non event: The first is that the farmers of Massachusetts never were able to become significantly influential in the Commonwealth’s business. The farmers were reduced to being essentially outlaws with the failure of Shay’s Rebellion.

A second reason for Worcester not becoming the state capital is that most of the movements of state capitals inland were to locations easily accessible from the port cities by water or rail. Hartford was connected to New Haven by the Connecticut River, Albany to New York by the Hudson River.

Worcester was connected by river canal and by rail to Providence. During the 19th century it was easier to get to Providence from Worcester than it was to get to Boston from Worcester. Worcester and points west were outside of Boston’s concerns. There was no need for State offices outside of Boston.

The big change came with the Massachusetts Turnpike. Worcester leaders were happy that Boston stayed out of their affairs. The Turnpike was, to some extent, the quickening of Worcester becoming a part of Boston and the reduction of the Worcester bosses’ influence.

The old timers in the unions I have spoken with say that the reason the Massachusetts Turnpike was for decades never in Worcester was because our city leaders wanted to keep the General Motor assembly plant from being located on Airport Hill. The Auto Workers Union during 20th Century was the most progressive or left large union in the country.

The Worcester leaders won this battle, and General Motors built the assembly plant in Framingham. The backward thinking leaders of that Worcester still affect our city today. Negatively. There is no turnpike connection to the Worcester Airport.

With the improvement of passenger rail service to Worcester and the opening of the Route 146 Turnpike connection, and Route I190 to the twin cities of Leominster-Fitchburg there is a new wheel and spoke of the so called hub of Boston. In many ways Worcester is more of a hub as it has highways going east.

The material conditions are such that the Commonwealth could begin to consolidate State buildings and State jobs into the Worcester area.

The infrastructure exists!

For most people in Massachusetts, including Metro West, North Shore, South Shore, Connecticut Valley and Western Massachusetts, it is easier to get to Worcester that it is to get to downtown Boston.

Of course, there is no way the Capital of Massachusetts will move out of Boston nor the Capitol from the Statehouse. The political and historical impediments are just too great.

However, the sale of underutilized or obsolete State-owned buildings in Boston might be a windfall for the Commonwealth. The construction of more efficient building in the Worcester area might be a money saver and a way to relieve the congested traffic issues of Boston.

Looking to the future, something along these lines will have to be done. It makes sense to start thinking about them sooner rather than later, Worcester!

Mickey-Mousing it, the Worcester way!

By Rosalie Tirella

I was driving around downtown Worcester this past Saturday afternoon. A depressing experience! A winter that refuses to die. An urban landscape totally dead and bleak. People looking poor and oppressed. So different than the downtown of my childhood, a time when you could spend a FUN Saturday afternoon window shopping (remember that Capraesque past-time?), or walking to the Mart or Denholms or Woolworths or Marcus to buy all kinds of things. These days our downtown looks condemned and it breaks my heart.

It is not so Mad Max/soul destroying during the work week. During the work week things are a bit more lively, but not by much. I know downtown is in the midst of BECOMING and we all need to be patient for the developments to develop. …

But here is something we need to fix, get right, make right RIGHT NOW. The new intersection that was just created when the old Galleria was knocked down and Front Street extended NEEDS A FULL-FLEDGED TRAFFIC LIGHT, not the spindly, half-assed Mayberry RFD stop signs that have turned our new major downtown intersection into a vehicular free-for-all.

Instead of a cool new intersection befitting a city on the move we have spindly stop signs shoved into buckets of cement or nailed to poles looking cheap and chinsy. And during the work week these Mickey Mouse stop signs don’t do a good job of directing traffic, do not do THEIR JOB. It is too big an intersection for stop signs. Drivers speed through the stop signs, it is a challenge to be at the stop sign coming from the library – you have to keep craning your neck to make sure it is ok to go. It is too big an intersection for that, too big for stop signs. I have seen drivers go to the left of the stop sign, not right. Anything to get to where the driver needed to go, traffic rules and laws be damned. I have seen construction trucks barrelling down the new Front Street, coming from the East Side. They barely slowed down. They were BIG and, darn it, we all needed to get the hell out of their way.

This kind of Wild West driving at the new intersection sets a mood. A lawless one. A thoughtless one. And the reckless mood carries over to our next downtown traffic sign or light.

Do we need for someone to be killed or seriously hurt before we do the intelligent thing and install traffic lights? Red light, yellow light, green light – that’s the “ticket” (pun intended!). Synchronized by our not too gifted traffic engineer. It will be way better than four shit-kicker stop signs that sometimes fall down (I have seen one on the ground) or disappear completely.

Get serious,Worcester movers and shakers! We don’t need a cluster-fuck in the middle of our downtown. We need traffic lights.