Letter: Keep Becket, Berkshires congestion free
To the editor:
The Eagle's Aug. 11 editorial "East's traffic issues can work for county" notes that Berkshire County can use the recent report by the state Department of Transportation on the status of roads to its advantage. But, it is also true that we must first decide what that advantage is and not rush to grab dollars simply because they may be available.
While Berkshire County does offer reasons for businesses and employees to come here, the prime business some communities in the county already host — namely vacationers, be they full summer or weekenders — must be preserved. The Mass Pike's exits in the western reaches of the county already provide access to significant cultural points like Tanglewood, The Mount, Rockwell Museum and Jacob's Pillow to name a few. The opportunity for the county lies in using potentially available monies to handle congested areas such as those named in the opinion piece, not add to congestion in areas that attract temporary, seasonal or permanent visitors and residents (and their dollars) because of their rural and rustic character.
Upgrading already existing major roads like Routes 7, 8 and 20 can achieve this aim — adding an additional exit on the Turnpike in the area of Becket/Otis which would channel traffic through vacation and year round communities such as the Indian Lake community on Algerie and Bonny Rigg Hill Road and bring big rigs to the edge of camps on Algerie Road and Route 8 in Becket would not. Such a move would damage the local tax base as assessed values of houses in the communities bisected by such channels of traffic off the Pike would decline while the costs of maintaining a road such as Algerie and especially Bonny Rigg would increase local expenses.
More troubling would be the danger to communities such an interchange would bring as it channels big rigs down rural Berkshire roads never engineered for such traffic (like Bonny Rigg) and would irreparably change the nature of such communities from rural and scenic to a roller coaster for those seeking to save some time by not exiting at Lee or Westfield. If time is the critical factor, build an exit where it will really save time and not endanger the environment, lives and communities — namely, where the turnpike already intersects with but does not exit onto main roads.
Carl F. Goodman,