• Confusion comes with a price
    November 10,2012

    Confusion comes with a price

    I see from the Oct. 26 issue of The Times Argus that the battle over the efficacy of the Summer Street truck route rages on. We still don’t know who will win, but it seems to be an agreed-upon point by both those who sell goods, and those who transport them, that the traffic signal at the corner of Elm and Summer streets is a good thing.

    Well, bipartisan consensus sometimes comes at a price, and in this case that price is to conveniently ignore the fact that the ugly, confusing, Rube Goldbergian mass of signs — “Detour,” “Do Not Enter” and “Yield” — arrows and random barriers politely known as the “Elm Street detour” will have to be made permanent if the Elm Street signal is to remain.

    The aesthetics argument emphasized by the downtown merchants applies here, as the neighborhood’s streets will continue to be too crowded and, in the case of Tremont and Walnut streets, too narrow to handle additional through traffic. Also, as with streets throughout the city (and as the truck drivers have emphasized), children roam freely and are endangered by the increased presence of confused, lost drivers.

    Never mind the number of remedially challenged drivers who continue to drive down Wellington Street despite the “Do Not Enter” sign. Never mind the likelihood that the Wellington Street hill, often difficult to drive up during a winter storm, will be made even more daunting by being passed only once by the plows due to its being one-way.

    It’s sufficient to realize that, while planning the “Big Dig,” the traffic engineers at the Vermont Agency of Transportation determined that the Summer Street-Maple Street light could be made permanent. However, they did not likewise designate the Elm Street-Summer Street light, no doubt because a permanent version of the Elm Street detour is ill-advised and unworkable.

    Russell Belding


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