Portney’s Complaint

Devon Portney

I can’t drive on I-93 past eleven o’clock at night. I wish I could, but what should be a twenty-minute journey turns into an hour long maze. It becomes an all-out war between my driving skills and the streets of Boston. If I’m lucky, I make it home in just over an hour.

For fifteen years now we’ve blindly stumbled through the city, tried to navigate through randomly placed DETOUR signs, and attempted to choose which I-93 signs to follow. When is it going to be finished? When can we actually learn a route to a destination and trust that it won’t change in a few months?

I had finally learned my way to my friend’s new apartment in South Boston. It took me a few tries, but I had finally figured it out. Then one night I was heading over there, and the ramp I took off the exit no longer existed. Where there was once a road, there was no more. And I had no idea how the hell to get to where I was going.

Another night, I was driving home from downtown quite late. There was, as usual, a great deal of traffic. A detour was set up, and all the entrances to the expressway were closed. We all inched along, from detour sign to sign, like sheep. Eventually we all turned right, and everyone was directed in a U turn to go back the way we came. The detour was actually set up to go nowhere! Best of all, there was a cop that was directing everyone into the U turn. If they set up the signs properly, the cop wouldn’t have even had to be there! I can’t possibly understand why this happens, but it does.

Why does it all have to be so complicated? The streets of New York City (Manhattan in particular) are so simple to navigate. Not only are they in grid form, but they are in numerical order! How brilliant!

The Big Dig started in 1991 and is the biggest highway project in America’s history. It was designed to replace the Central Artery, which held the record for the most hours of traffic every day. It was estimated that by 2010 the Central Artery would be in solid traffic for 16 hours a day.

This project is being supervised by the Mass Turnpike Authority. Their website has a special ‘Big Dig’ section, which explains the purposes and goals of the endeavor. They also claim that the idea is to make life easier for the citizens of Boston. When?

They have completed one of their goals, which was the Mass Pike extension going to Logan Airport. It’s lovely. Can I take that road home from the center of the city at one A.M. instead of all the detours?

I just want to know my way around. I would like to be able to find my way through my own home town. Is that too much to ask?

I feel like I’m out for adventure when I try driving in Boston, especially at night. The city is unknown terrain and all I have are my wits to guide me. It can take hours, but eventually I always find my way home.

For more information about the Big Dig visit www.masspike.com/bigdig