Letter: 'No exit' is best interchange option
To the editor:
With respect, this proposal for an interchange in the hill towns appears to me to be manifest Destiny posing as infrastructure improvements.
Westfield has a serious truck and traffic problem brought on by itself through poor planning. The effort to shift this problem, with its incumbent air, noise and congestion onto one of the last great places in Massachusetts, is something the study group has largely ignored. False, unsubstantiated narratives of pollution reductions and economic benefits only underscore the impression that the monied interests of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce and real estate speculators are driving this ham-fisted approach.
We have now a beautiful part of the Berkshires with abundant natural resources and landowners who have lived here for decades and generations protecting these values precisely from this kind of degradation. The feeder roads, that will inevitably follow the construction of an exit anywhere, will permanently scar this landscape at a cost of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. This kind of forest fragmentation not only degrades the environment, but makes it less likely that the natural resources already at our disposal will be available to build a sustainable and durable economy.
Our elected representatives have a responsibility to advocate for those of us who have lived here and desire a modern day approach to infrastructure improvements. Commuter rail options, farming and forest based industries, including passive recreational opportunities are economies that are more in keeping with working toward a goal of supporting our existing communities. Our elected officials must also understand that our rural communities don't have the resources necessary to deal with the litter, the speeding traffic, and the crime that will inundate us should this exit be built in any of our towns.
The opportunity to protect and nourish our rural communities has never been greater, or more important. The study group has stated that "no exit" is an option. Promoting an exit in the hill towns does a disservice to those of us living here by ignoring our values and destroying a landscape that we have demonstrated a responsibility to protect and preserve.
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