Our opinion: Big trucks still in Lee

Saturday January 19, 2013

In a week in which Governor Patrick presented an ambitious funding proposal for needed transportation projects, a comfortably familiar transportation story re-emerged from Lee, where planners are again considering what to do about truck traffic going to and from Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike on Route 20 and clogging downtown. Maybe money will emerge for a solution, but the difficult task is agreeing on a solution.

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission reported this week that truck traffic increased by 18 percent along the Route 20 corridor from Exit 2 to the Lenox border between 2006 and 2011. During that period, Lee’s downtown has become more attractive, its various stores and restaurants bustling with locals and visitors. This progress makes the trailer truck traffic through the narrow downtown more burdensome and unsightly in contrast to what it was before.

When this issue was last discussed three years ago, a proposal to build a mini Lee bypass from 102 to 20 to reduce traffic downtown went nowhere. This is an offshoot of a plan offered more than a decade ago by the state DOT when it was briefly flush with cash that met with concerted opposition. The plan for a Route 7 interchange with the Turnpike in Stockbridge was dusted off in 2010 as it is every once in a while, but Rockwellville will go to the U.S. Supreme Court before that happens.

Maybe someday reality will catch up with "The Jetsons" and cars and trucks will soar through the air, solving Lee’s truck traffic problem. Until that day, however, Lee will likely have to endure heavy-duty trucks crawling through downtown. Failing bold solutions that may ruffle a few feathers, Lee can only wait until whatever traffic report is issued in 2016.


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