photo: Private locks on gates now keeping intruders and city officials out.
By William Tauro
Last week we wrote about and featured the senseless closing of the McGrath Highway bridge and tunnel and how its negative affect has impacted the Ward 2 neighborhood and businesses.
This week we’d like to take you inside that closed down tunnel and show you firsthand how a once vital roadway that provided the crucial bloodstream of traffic full of consumers and residents to and from the many businesses and homes in Ward 2 and now converted into a makeshift homeless shelter by its new inhabitants.
The city’s homeless population now resides inside the closed off tunnel in deplorable conditions causing a much greater health risk to themselves as well as to the neighboring residents.
Human feces can be seen under the bridge’s tunnel as they now use it for a restroom as well. The stench of urine even outweighs the former stench of the incinerator on hot days.
Hundreds of bags of garbage containing possessions that these homeless inhabitants have accumulated over the years now fill the closed down tunnel inside and well as outside its gates barricading it like a makeshift fortress.
As you walk through the tunnel you will notice multiple makeshift bedroom sets as well as makeshift living room sets set up in between the mounds of trash bags.
One homeless man who refers to himself as Homeless Joe who also refused to be photographed told us in an interview “I love it here, myself and all my other homeless friends have a place to stay now!” He also told us “I have even changed the padlocks on the city gates that they have put up with my own hardened-steel padlocks and I even have my own key to prevent any unwanted intruders from coming in.” He also added “If they want me out of here now they will have to evict us, good luck to them!”
My questions here are why was this allowed to happen? Where is City Hall during all of this? Where is the mayor during all of this?
We are on the Alderman especially our newly elected Ward 2 Alderman who replaced the former Ward 2 Alderman that miserably failed her constituents?
Where are the financial institutions who have mortgages as lien holders on all of these properties collateralized that have now decreased tremendously in value due to this ridiculous closure and situation at hand?
Where is the Chamber of Commerce during all of this while business and property owners in the ward suffer with the closure of this vital tunnel and roadway for almost 5 years now?
With the new inhabitants of the closed down tunnel fully moved in, you just can’t kick them out back on the streets again. If the city even plans on removing them from the tunnel they are going to have to legally evict them I guess and that’s going to be a completely different story in itself as well as on the taxpayers dime.
What will it take to resolve this tremendous problem now and how will it be done?
The mayor could kill two birds with one stone here. He could help these homeless people and get them situated with housing and then open up the overpass to help the businesses community and the residents survive.
All of these accumulated problems for a senseless move to close down a working offramp and vital roadway tunnel gaining nothing for its business population and residents of Somerville.