Wednesday, May 12, 2010


So the big North Harvard Street construction project started this morning, the beginning of our summer-long martyrdom at the hands of Boston Water. But there's no use in complaining--the work needs to be done, and at the end of it we'll have shiny new water mains, a new stretch of bike lane (we hope), new improved crosswalks, and more.

Meanwhile (and for the next several months) traffic patterns were predictably dicey, with half of North Harvard Street closed off, and our typically busy flow of cars, trucks, buses, and bikes funneled onto one side of the street. Public safety problem? Maybe, but lucky for us, the BPD sent THREE
uniformed officers to take charge of things (and pocket their astronomical overtime wages) in order to ... have a conversation. (One of them slipped away while I was getting my camera, but the other two are making do with each other's company.)

Now you may remember all the recent controversy about replacing these law officers with mere flagpersons at a fraction of the cost. Terrible idea, said the police union. Untrained laborers, unskilled in the intricacies of traffic management, oblivious to the greater public safety concerns which are second nature to our officers in blue. So we have a compromise in place, where the high-cost, high-yield police are assigned to serious high-risk worksites, where their presence might save lives.

Surely our major north-south artery, with its complicated traffic now navigating half the roadway, would constitute such a public safety emergency, and
sure enough, here they are, chatting away as a pickup truck, a cement mixer, and several passenger cars play chicken in the one open lane, dodging a parked car and the excavation site with no interference from this oblivious pair. In all fairness, these guys or their replacements actually DID start to direct traffic later in the morning; one of them even helped me cross the street to take the first photo. But honestly, with all the public controversy, wouldn't you think these guys would try just a little to look like they were earning the large sums they so earnestly demand to perform this vital service?