City Calls March on State House In Last Effort to Halt Inner Belt
The Cambridge City Council, in a last ditch effort to halt the proposed Cambridge Inner Belt Highway, voted last night to organize a massive march on the Massachusetts state house to take place before the end of January.
Faced with the almost certain prospect that John A. Volpe soon will order construction to begin on the long-proposed highway, the council also requested the incoming Governor of Mass., Francis W. Sargent, to withdraw the plans from the Dept. of Transportation.
Cambridge's last hope for another delay in the construction was wiped out last week when it became apparent that the outgoing federal highway administrator, Lowell K. Bridwell, would not move to have more hearings on the plans. It will be up to the new administration to act on a request to have a second set of public hearings on the highway.
Bridwell is on a round-the-world cruise until after Jan. 20. Volpe, and whoever will be the new highway administrator, are certain to turn down the request for a second set of hearings.
Without much hope left, the Council ordered the march on the State House. It requested that all agencies of the City--police, fire, school bands, and even the Harvard University Band--join in the march. All costs of the demonstration will be paid for by the City. It is estimated that the demonstration will cost about $3000. The Council also ordered that the day of the demonstration be proclaimed "Halt the Highway/Anti-Inner Belt Day."
It is expected, however, that the march will have little effect and that Volpe will order construction on the highway very soon after taking office. Volpe has been an opponent of the second hearing proposal for a long time and an outspoken supporter of the Brookline-Elm Street route for the Inner Belt.
Cambridge has been attempting to block the Brokline-Elm Street route on the grounds that it will cause widespread displacement of families, destruction of scarce low-income housing, and will create a permanent barrier through the middle of Cambridge.
The original plans for the Inner Belt were drawn up in 1947 but the City has been able to stall construction by various tactics for over 20 years. The Council expressed some feeling that the plans for construction might now be obsolete after such a long delay.
Bridwell, and Alan S. Boyd, Secretary of Transportation, have been considered advocates of local control of highway routes. But Bridwell, by leaving the second hearing proposal to the judgment of the Nixon administration, apparently has doomed the anti-Belt fight.