A long frustrating struggle to delay construction on the Memorial Drive underpasses may come to a successful close today, if the Massachusetts House of Representatives passes a bill setting a moratorium on all new highway construction in the metropolitan area.
Proponents of the bill (H 3554) won a preliminary victory late Monday night when the House decided to put the measure on its calendar instead of referring it to committee for study.
The bill would declare a moratorium on all new highways in the Boston area until a "Greater Boston Transportation Agency" had reviewed all new road proposals by the Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan District Commission and decided how well they fitted into a general transportation scheme for the metropolitan area. The MDC is scheduled to build the underpasses.
According to its sponsor, Rep. William P. Homans '41 (D-Cambridge), the statue would improve on Governor Peabody's proposed transportation program by creating a new agency instead of putting transportation planning into the hands of the DPW.
Despite this reservation, however, Homans said he "strongly favors" Peabody's idea of integrated transportation planning. He attacked the idea that urban transportation can be planned piecemeal--road by road, bridge by bridge--without taking into account all types of transport facilities.
The Governor's program itself calls for the extension of MTA rapid transit facilities to 64 outlying communities to provide Boston and its suburbs with fast commuter transportation. It is hoped that the new MTA lines could take pressure off such arteries as Memorial Drive.
Although there has been some feeling among observers that "Peabody has abandoned Cambridge Memorial Drive issue," Homans praised the Governor's stand.
"It is not the Governor's responsibility to get himself involved in a local issue like this. He has stepped out on a good many state-wide issues and placed himself in unpopular positions."
Homans added that Peabody's transportation program was the kind of positive support that opponents to the Memorial Drive underpasses really needed.
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