City, State, Environmentalist Officials Not Sure What To Do In Somerville Tunnel Fiasco?

By William Tauro

This past Wednesday the city of Somerville Department of Public Works Commissioner Stan Koty along with other staff members, Somerville DPW workers, State officials and inspectors as well as police met beneath the McGrath Highway overpass in the closed off tunnel next to the closed off offramp to discuss strategies, evaluate the situation and come up with a plan.

The meeting of minds of the officials are trying to come up with a plan on how to resolve the horrible conditions in the tunnel that now houses a small colony of homeless people with their belongings and mounds of trashbags and boxes filling up a majority of the tunnel.

According to sources at the scene who told us that there are many issues involved here now especially with new major environmental issue concerns where all the contaminants and bags of trash that have been compiled there along with mounds of human feces and large stagnant puddles of water that contain urine that plagues the tunnel from over a year of the tunnel’s homeless population inhabitants urinating and defecating there on a daily basis.

Its become a major concern on how to remove the homeless colony from beneath the tunnel. One of the big questions facing these officials is do they just remove and lock out the homeless people that have made this tunnel their home for the past year with their own locks placed on the gates or do they now have to evict them through a legal process where they have already established residency there with squatters rights.

Many local Ward 2 residents and business owners don’t know what the initial reasoning was almost five years ago for closing the tunnel and offramp in the first place. This McGrath Highway offramp and tunnel leads down and through to Target , Burger King and a number of local Ward 2 businesses as well as to Union Square.

Were these closings in the best interest of the residents and business owners of Somerville or was it a big mistake or an intentional plot for developers to hopefully scoop up some good deals from potential businesses failures from the closure.

Was the mayor and the city deliberately trying to drive property and business owners through disgust and failure via sabotaging roadways to stall more developments and certain Somerville retailing businesses?

Back more than four years ago when the initial closing took place we contacted Mayor Curtatone‘s office and spoke to his then chief of staff Omar Boukili as well as We spoke to City of Somerville head of operations Ricky Willette who both told us that the state was closing down the tunnel and offramp. Immediately after that we contacted the state and a state highway official told us that your mayor and his administration are not being forthcoming and truthful with you because he and his administration requested the closing, so we don’t know who to believe.

By looking at all the most recent actions over the past few years its very hard to tell what side this adminerstration is on.

During rain storms it severely floods and resembles a miniature swamp that also helps spread disease with mosquitoes and flies living amongst the mess.

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 outweighs the former stench of the incinerator on hot days.

Just look back five years ago at the elimination of over one hundred parking spots on McGrath Highway/Medford Street in Somerville converting it only one side parking.

Then again just only four years ago the city tried eliminating the remaining all of the parking spaces on that same road but lost the battle. Luckily for these residents and business owners this time around the neighborhood and this very paper fought back against the city’s parking elimination plans and were victorious over keeping the parking spaces.

If that had gone through it would’ve deprived hundreds of residents and dozens of business owners the right to park in front of their own homes and businesses. Their customers would’ve given up due to the lack of parking and going elsewhere to do there businesses.

Now new theories are surfacing regarding the reasoning behind why the McGrath Highway overpass exit offramp that leads down to Burger King, Target, Hub Glass, Carroll Roofing, John’s Auto Sales and many more properties along Somerville Avenue that have been closed down for over a few years now?

If you ask the mayors office they tell you that the overpass is coming down. But then again when is the overpass coming down in 10 years, 20 years, 25 years?

So what was the reasoning/motive that the overpass has been closed down now this early in any phase of demolition?

The state and city just recently spent almost over $21 million to refurbish that overpass only a few years ago and now they’ve close it off, you can’t make this stuff up!

Many constituents are now asking themselves the question why and were the city hall engineers with micromanagement orders from the administration trying to starve business owners there by depriving them of motorist the use of that vital offramp to conduct business in that area.

An offramp that is crucial for the survival of many businesses in that area. Could it be part of a bigger plot to prolong another stalled development that was underway in that area as well?

Here we are more than four years later with hundreds of businesses on that street as well as in Ward 2 who are still starving for customers due to lack of parking spaces and now motor vehicle traffic.

In other words was city hall out to cut off their circulation by closing the offramp?

Was it intentional? Was city hall setting these businesses up for failure? Is it a plot to get them to leave their property via financial stress and have their own developer to come in and redevelop the area?

We are hoping that the new Board of Alderman can recognize that there is a serious problem here. We are hoping that they will take the necessary steps to re-open that offramp before more business failure begins to emerge.

The former Ward 2 Alderman for that area, the mayor and as well as for the Somerville Chamber of Commerce didn’t look out for the ward’s many business owner’s best interest and wellbeing.

Isn’t that why we have Aldermen and a Chamber of Commerce to help local businesses thrive or should the property and business owners all have to lawyer-up to get this offramp re-opened and have somebody outside the city represent them before failure is upon them?

We have noticed that in this past year or so that new lighting on the closed offramp and sealed off tunnel have been installed.

What is the reasoning for this? Why are they doing this to the residence of that ward? Why doesn’t the new board of alderman put their foot down and reopen the offramp and tunnel.

This story is still developing….

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