Rounding off Lynn

June 11, 2017

FILE PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Cars drive around the new rotary in West Lynn.

If a rotary can spring up almost overnight in West Lynn, imagine the other surprises waiting to be sprung on Lynn residents. Is it beyond the realm of imagination to wake up one morning and see a tramway climbing its way from downtown to High Rock Tower?

Driving down Federal Street and running into a roundabout is almost as surprising as the prospect of driving down the Lynnway and finding it stripped of billboards or finding traffic lights at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Western Avenue.

Several questions linger in the wake of the new rotary’s debut. How long will it take some unaware or inebriated driver to plow across the rotary instead of around it? When will a statue or piece of public art rise in the rotary’s center?

The good news is that a Lynn intersection that was once an eyesore is rapidly turning into a busy commercial sector. It’s hard to remember that Federal Street was closed to traffic for decades, barring Lynn residents and other drivers from a convenient straightaway linking Boston Street and Western Avenue.

Lingering security concerns dating back to the Cold War kept the road running by General Electric’s long-closed West Lynn plant off limits to traffic. GE’s unsuccessful “factory of the future” experiment on Western Avenue left an unused building on the corner of Federal and Western Avenue for years until city officials and Swampscott entrepreneur Charles Patsios worked with GE executives to make change happen on Federal Street.

Market Basket is going to bring jobs to Lynn and it’s going to reduce the city’s recently-identified status as a city where residents are underserved by available food markets. Market Basket is a modern business miracle where customers and employees supported a briefly-exiled executive because they believed in what he stood for.

That spirit and defiance is in line with local values that sustained GE as a major employer and sustained the city. To their credit, top city officials have worked with Patsios and Market Basket to bring the store to the city’s center and address traffic flow and congestion.

Of course, change is never easy, especially in an old community. The new-fangled rotary will confound its share of residents and novice drivers before it is absorbed into the city’s landscape. It will be the butt of jokes and the target of griping. There will even be die-hard West Lynn residents who yearn for the days when that funny-looking traffic signal mounted on a concrete pedestal channeled drivers from Western Avenue, South Street and North Common Street.

Market Basket is going to put people to work. The new rotary is going to help them get to their jobs and the once-empty gigantic vacant lot bordering Federal Street is going to be a plus for the city, not a minus.