Letter: 'No-build' option best on Pike exits

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To the editor:

On Oct. 2, the MassDOT study group heard loud and clear the opposition to a turnpike interchange anywhere in our hill towns. Environmental degradation, forest fragmentation, truck and car traffic (6,000 trips a day), air pollution and noise pollution will inevitably follow the construction of an exit. These were just a few of the pitfalls the study group has largely ignored.

I was happy to hear the Algerie Road exit proposal in Otis was off the table. MassDOT cited "steep grades," "lack of public support," "complex terrain," "minimal benefits," "minimum travel time savings" and "increased traffic" on "local" roads.

For all these same reasons, the Blandford siting of an interchange should be scrapped. The steep hills, sharp curves and deteriorated culverts and bridges all speak to the same issues that ruled out the proposed Algerie Road exit.

And costs? We don't know the full costs. Does the 10 to 13 minutes of supposed time savings (from the study) warrant the $29.5 million to $34 million cost for the exit? And, what study has been done to estimate the cost of the feeder-road access from both Route 23 and Route 20? None. And to get federal funding, all of the Western Turnpike would need extensive upgrades!

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Westfield has a truck and traffic problem brought on by themselves, through poor planning. The impression is that the monied interests of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and real estate speculators are using MassDOT and this study group in a "grab and smash" attempt to put 6,000 more vehicles onto our rural roads and shift congestion from Westfield onto our communities.

A "no-build" option to save our communities is well warranted. This process, whether intentional or not, has only served to divide the residents of our towns by playing a zero-sum game. Progress is measured by bringing all stakeholders together. Rail service, internet access, common-sense repairs to our roads and bridges are all issues we can sit down and plan for. A rural economy that is planned and implemented by our own residents and communities would be a much more effective solution for moving toward a modern, 21st-century approach for improving and protecting this shared landscape.

For all the above reasons, our elected leaders, including state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and state Sen. Adam Hinds should speak out now against a new interchange.

Lynne Hertzog,



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