Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The Boston Globe is mounting a big campaign to have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts name the new downtown tunnel segment of Interstate 93 in memory of former U.S. and Mass. House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. over Gov. Romney's designation of the I-93 section as Liberty Tunnel.

A few facts Democratic leaders at the State House and the newspaper's political and editorial writers might consider before jumping on the Tip bandwagon:

It was Tip O'Neill, as the congressman representing Cambridge and adjacent areas, who blocked the Inner Belt—an integral part of the massiive Federal Interstate highway construction program—thereby creating the necessity of the $16 billion depression of Boston's Central Artery.

The Inner Belt was part of the state's Master Highway Plan and called for construction of a circular roadway inside Route 128, extending from Melnea Cass Highway through the South End westward across the Charles River through part of Cambridge and Somerville, until its link-up with I-93 North. Construction of this Inner 128 combined with a Southwest Corridor that also succumbed to the O'Neill strategy, would have taken a tremendous car load off the Southeast Expressway and negated the need for depressing and completely rebuilding the Central Artery in Boston at a staggering $16 billion (and counting).

With Mike Dukakis, who never cared for motorists or their difficulties, in the Corner Office and Tip's son propped as lieutenant governor, it was easy for the speaker to scuttle part of the state's Master Plan even though only a few homes in his district would be taken in order to construct it.

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