Surprise, surprise...the Storrow Drive Tunnel Repair is going to be far more expensive and take far longer than originally envisioned. So the Patrick Administration is floating the idea of putting a temporary bypass road onto the Esplanade while the tunnel is completely rebuilt. This idea was floated, and shot down, several months ago when the project was first announced.
The bypass road will extend about 40ft into the Esplanade, and reduce construction time by six months, and save about $5 million. On a several hundred million dollar (and two year) plan, that doesn't seem like much, does it? However, it's a big deal because it means that Storrow Drive can continue handling close to the 100,000+ cars that drive on it every day...as opposed to trying to funnel those cars through Beacon Hill and Back Bay.
Yeah, think about that for a second: the already-traffic-choked Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods trying to cope with many tens of thousands of new cars every day for about two years. And that's assuming they finish on time. Just like how the Big Dig was supposed to be a few years, and instead took 15 and counting. Yikes.
Nevertheless, local Beacon Hill residents, and City Councilman Michael Ross, are screaming that this bypass road will destroy the Esplanade and they'll chain themselves to the trees before they'll allow it to be built.
I can see their point...the Esplanade is a real jewel in Boston's crown, and to have a major disruption on it for two (or three, or four or five) years really sucks. And there really is no guarantee that after the construction is done, the Esplanade will truly be returned to its current "impressively decent" state.
However, let's take a look at the alternative: those same residents screaming about "their" precious Esplanade will be the same residents screaming about the horrible traffic lasting until 2am every night if the bypass isn't built. Not to mention the incredible disruption to commuter traffic; since Storrow Drive is a major artery it will have a ripple effect across the entire region. That means lost worker productivity and an already-overburdened (and under-resourced) MBTA subway getting hammered even more. Not to mention the incredible environmental impact that millions of cars idling in traffic for an extra two or three hours per day will have.
The ultimate costs to business, the state and to ourselves could well run into the billions. I don't know what the exact number is, but the Patrick administration bettter figure that out quick because I'm willing to bet it's a helluva lot more than the entire construction project will cost.
And someone ought to remind those selfish SOB "Beautiful People" on Beacon Hill to think of the entire state a little more, instead of only themselves.