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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Inching through the snow

Maybe we should change the symbol from French Toast to Snow Plows. Then again, its unusual to see a meltdown occurring at the same time as it snowed instead of weeks later.

Yesterday's storm certainly packed a wallop not usually seen around here -- 10 inches in nine hours. I don't remember going from wispy flurries to coated streets that quickly. But it's also hard to recall a time when we all took leave of our jobs -- and senses -- at the same time too.

The fingers are already pointing at the state Highway Department -- and Deval Patrick -- for the chaos on the highways and the T, not to mention the aisles of Shaw's, Stop & Shop and Roche Brothers.

Call me silly, but what the heck do you expect when a million or so people are released from work at the same time in a city where the transportation system is shaky on it best days. Change rush hour from its normal 4-6 p.m. to 1-1:o5 p.m. and guess what happens.

Combine the first major storm of the season with the usual televised hype one-upmanship and an official "heavy snow warning" and what happened yesterday was predictable, even if we had 40,000 pieces of snow removal equipment clogging the highways.

Toss in our usual courtesy while commuting and, well, yesterday would have been a good day to be held captive on a Peter Pan bus.

It's obvious Boston's Mayor for Life (including a gazillion snowstorms) knows the political fallout from this. Why else is his finger wagging in the direction of Beacon Hill?
"It's the turnpikes and expressways," Menino said at an afternoon press conference. "As one state official said to one of our commissioners, 'We didn't have the equipment to deal with this emergency.' "
Sorry, but the turnpike and expressway is a parking lot on a normal day. One thing about the Pike is they have always known how to stay ahead of snow. And of course, as the Globe notes:
Menino declined to specify which state official, and Massachusetts officials downplayed Menino's criticism, saying their entire fleet of almost 4,000 plows, salt and sand spreaders, and other vehicles was out clearing roads.
Plows and sanders were part of the problem this time -- because everyone left at the same time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a traffic engineer to figure that out. And while Patrick told everyone to take the rest of the day off, it would have certainly been easier if companies thought about staggering those departure time.

This storm was hyped, er, predicted days out. If there was a lack of planning the blame needs to be shared, including those companies that opened the doors all at once.

But Menino and Patrick no doubt are very aware of what happens to politicians seen as falling down on the job when the snow flies (can you say Blizzard of '78?) Not to mention it's bad when the "Urban Mechanic" can't keep his city humming along as promised.

Expect a large snowball fight.

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Anonymous Duuuurhhh said...

makes you feel real safe about those "evacuation" signs, knowing you'll get out of he city fast, and all...

December 14, 2007 8:25 AM  

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