Local Government and Politics, Opinion

Editorial: Tackling Route 1 traffic

Saugus Town Manager Scott Crabtree and Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo deserve praise for pursuing a multi-year goal of obtaining public money to study traffic improvements on Route 1.

To date since 2017, joint applications filed by Saugus and Revere have secured $425,000 through the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to gather information on traffic and vehicle crashes with an eye on how the new casino in Everett will add to Route 1 traffic congestion.

On Jan. 30, the two communities tried to double down by applying for another $425,000 to continue transportation studies and they will hear by June on study money awards.

The studies, said Crabtree, are intended to make an ironclad case for making major roadway improvements ” … to help alleviate existing traffic and offset anticipated traffic resulting from the increased volume of vehicles visiting the new casino.”

The Route 1 study application warns the casino ” … will bring substantial volumes of new traffic onto the Route 1-Route 99 corridor.” It goes on to highlight problems with the main artery running through the North Shore with a summary all too familiar to drivers who slog up and down the road every work day.

It’s prone to gridlock. Its interchanges like Main, Essex, and Walnut streets have high accident rates. Its stop-and-go traffic is a teeth-grinding aggravation and necessary evil.

These daily traffic hassles are really the prime reasons for studying ways to improve Route 1 traffic. The casino’s potential for worsening traffic is a significant concern but equally important is the traffic impact on new development taking shape along Route 1.

In as much as Revere is seen a beachfront revival with residential development, Saugus is seeing a similar revival along Route 1. New construction with a shelf life that will last well into the end of the century deserves transportation improvements designed to make Route 1 driveable well into the end of the century.

Ultimately, studies become much debated or relatively ignored stacks of paper sitting on shelves. Their ideas must be translated into improvements costing millions of dollars and taking years to execute.

Much-vaunted talk 15 years ago about making Route 1’s Revere-Saugus section easier to drive, especially around Copeland Circle, fell by the wayside.

Is there any real fix for Route 1? Ultimately, the answer is to get cars off the road and drivers to take mass transit.

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