Sunday, July 10, 2005

Romney: No to Nonantum

Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) is leading a group of legislators to try and override Mitt Romney's veto of a study of Nonantum Road from the 2006 Department of Conservation and Recreation budget. This was the only DCR spending the governor vetoed, representing a whopping 0.17% of the DCR's $23.6 million budget.

For those of you not familiar with it, Nonantum Road snakes along the south side of the Charles River through Brighton, Watertown and Newton. To the east, it turns into Soldiers Field Road. Since it is so close to the river, the DCR actually has the bulk of the responsibility for maintaining it. There have been several fatal accidents along the road in the past few years, according to the Watertown Tab. One of the biggest problems, I think, is that there are all these weirdly shaped intersections where it's very difficult to see oncoming traffic. Not to mention that the intersection of Nonantum and Galen, just south of Watertown Square is frequently gridlocked thanks to the long lights at the Square. Pedestrian traffic is often heavy there as well, as that intersection lies between two bus stations.

So, why veto this one study, out of all of the millions of dollars in the DCR budget? Joe O'Keefe, spokesman for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, explains:

"The concern was that $40,000 would be far less than what would be needed to administer a study of that magnitude, with the types of consultants we'd have to hire and the models we'd have to run," O'Keefe said.
But O'Keefe said the DCR would be "more than happy" to work with local and municipal officials to improve the road's safety without a study.
So, in other words, they're not willing to shell out any money to actually try to figure out how to make Nonantum Road safer, but they'll help the towns try to make the road safer anyway. Maybe they'll put up a new stop sign or something and pray that no one else gets killed. Let's call it faith-based traffic planning.