Bravo, Mr. Mayor!

The Globe also reports today that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has ordered a halt to all road construction in the city by utilities until they agree to patch over their work properly. It only took you 13 years, mayor, but I'm glad you're finally fed up.

The Globe story said Menino was driving down DOT Ave (Dorchester Avenue), this week and after hitting a pothole, he lost his cool. Apparently he got out and measured the hole, created by a bad patch by a utility company, and it had sunk four inches. Imagine feeling that while in the passenger's seat of an Eddie Bauer edition Ford Expedition, the mayor's city-owned vehicle.

What I want to know is why he was so damn fed up by such a problem in Dorchester and not the one in his own backyard? The mayor lives in Readville, a quiet little corner of Hyde Park that is the farthest point away from City Hall while still staying within the city limits. The main thoroughfare leading to quaint little Readville is the once mighty Hyde Park Avenue, which runs from Forest Hills nearly to Dedham.

In a major reconstruction of the road in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hyde Park Avenue was completely rebuilt with new sidewalks, a center median in spots, antique-style lighting, etc. When completed, it looked like a more built up Route 16 near Wellesley College than a Boston artery. It was, and still is, beautiful. However, construction stopped at Cleary Square, the main center of commerce in Hyde Park where HPA crosses River Street. South of River Street, HPA becomes this pooly aligned, rutted and pocked road that is so hard to drive on I usually try to avoid it.

The road has deterioriated for a combination of reasons, such as constant heavy trucking and the common ailments caused by the New England freeze-thaw cycle. Most discouraging is a crooked spine of patched utility work running nearly the length of the road from the Readville MBTA station up to Cleary Square, which makes the road so uneven that it would shorten the life of any suspension, including the mayor's four-wheel-drive vehicle.

I don't know which way Menino commutes to City Hall every day, but judging by the location of his house, I would bet he uses this section of HPA, which is lined with heavy industrial businesses, on a regular basis. The road has been a shambles for as long as I can remember, at least 10 years, and yet this never bothered him. It was a pothole in Dorchester that caught his attention.

I guess in the big picture it doesn't matter how he "came to Jesus" on this issue, just that he has. Menino, to his credit, has used his tenure to be the roads-and-sidewalks mayor, embarking on a very expansive and expensive program of repaving and rebuilding many city roads -- ones that were ruined in part because of poorly repaired underground utility contruction. I wouldn't be surprised if the stretch of DOT Ave he was on that caused this halt in digging was one that had been fixed by Menino's plan, and he just got pissed off. Good for you, mayor. Thanks for sticking up for those, like me, who are damn tired of crappy roads.


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