Cape ride (second in a series)

On our way home from the Cape on June 5, Mrs. Boston Crazy Driving and I noticed a choke point (not a place to get out and choke an annoying driver) at the foot of the Sagamore Bridge. It's where Route 6A enters the highway just before the bridge actually starts. A couple days later, I e-mailed MassHighway to suggest they close this on-ramp or the much-ballyhooed "flyover" ramps that are being built now will be a big bust for people trying to get off-Cape.

Yesterday (Yes, three weeks later), I received an impersonal e-mail from MassHighway that was neither properly addressed, nor was it signed. When I submitted the e-mail, I willingly gave my name and address.

Here's what MassHighway District 5 had to say (the punctuation mistakes are theirs).

The approach speeds to the Sagamore Bridge are reduced to 40 MPH, this makes merging from Cranberry Highway to Route 6 westbound safer than a merge at higher speeds. There are no immediate plans to adjust or remove this on-ramp. Re-directing local traffic to enter the Route 6 west stream at Exits 2 & 3 would only increase the merging maneuvers at those interchanges.

It would also place a great deal of motorists unnecessarily on Town roads which may adversely impact police and fire response times to various incidents. Increasing these motorists travel time would also increase the levels of vehicle emissions and reduce air quality in the area.
I replied saying "thanks for the red herrings!" All this e-mail does is perpetuate NIMBY myths, and it serves up easy excuses why they shouldn't do it. Typical of bureaucrats. Let's take their reasons individually.

Approach speeds are 40 MPH. Right. Who goes 40 when there isn't traffic? Who goes 40, let alone 14 MPH, when there is traffic?

Increased merge maneuvers at Exits 2 and 3. Funny, that was EXACTLY my suggestion. By forcing the traffic to merge further east of the bridge, it allows time for the cars to sort so that by the time they get to the bridge, they can whisk over -- you know, at 40.

More cars on Town roads. If I'm not mistaken, Route 6A, is a surface road in a few towns. It's a state road, yes, but it's still part of the town. Especially where it backs up, isn't that Bourne and Sandwich? I wasn't suggesting solving the traffic problem on Route 6A. That would take a force of God to do. No, I was suggesting move the traffic to roads that are better equipped to handle it. Take Exit 3 for example. If memory serves, the road that connects Routes 6 and 6A is 80 feet wide nearly to its terminus at 6A. The state could upgrade that intersection with signals and turning lanes, and it would move the traffic through more appropriately, rather than pushing everyone together at a stop sign near the Shawme Crowell State Forest Campground.

Adversely impact response times. First of all, what does adversely impact mean? That's government speak for reduce. Impact is not a verb, but it's a nicer way of delivering bad news. I really had to laugh at the notion that moving the traffic off a road that wasn't designed to handle it to a road which can, more or less, wouldn't IMPROVE response times. Just imagine if the Christmas Tree Shop was robbed at gunpoint and someone made off with a carriage full of $1.99 garden gnomes. How would the cops get to the robbers under present conditions?

Increasing travel times would increase vehicle emissions. This actually produced a guffaw. I don't guffaw often, either. Can anyone else appreciate the doublespeak? If MassHighway were proposing this project, it would reject claims of increased vehicle emissions made by residents it deemed NIMBYs. What's more, I bet a real study of this traffic suggestion would actually show REDUCED travel time, and therefore reduced emissions. If nothing else, it would at least concentrate the emissions to the Route 6 corridor through most of Sandwich. At present, in traffic, it takes about 40 minutes to go from the State Forest to the bridge. That's 40 minutes of idling. With the flyover ramps connecting the bridge directly to Route 3, the hope is that traffic heading off-Cape would move uninterrupted over the bridge. Without having to negotiate the traffic circle, most everyone agrees it will reduce the queue length on the Cape side of the bridge, and therefore reducing idling time on Route 6. Making Route 6A traffic merge earlier would also alleviate the queue lengths on Route 6A.

At least, that's what seems logical to me. Don't be fooled, Dear Reader, I never expected a government automaton to take my suggestion seriously. After all, what do I know? I only drive these roads.


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