Globe Editorial

Garden traffic: Untying the knots

February 19, 2011

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A shortcut ended is a drive extended — and that, sadly, is the case when it comes to a neat little route that had allowed drivers to skirt the game-night clot of cars, cabs, and pedestrians around the TD Garden.

It’s a familiar story to most Boston residents: The shifting flows of traffic around a major destination wreaking havoc with a popular shortcut, adding many extra minutes of traffic snarl. Back when surface work was being finished on the Greenway, drivers heading from the Beacon Hill area to North Washington Street could bypass most of the Garden tangle. One simply drove east along Valenti Way, then turned left on Haverhill Street, which connects with Causeway Street. But when the roads were knit together over the tunnel, a crucial in-between block of Valenti suddenly became one-way in the opposite direction, thus cutting off access to Haverhill Street. That change obliged hundreds of drivers a day to make their way along narrow lanes choked with garden-goers — or to detour all the way to the Haymarket area, another clogged urban warren. The problem could easily be fixed by transforming the now-missing link of Valenti Way into a two-way street.

In a 2009 mayoral debate, Mayor Menino memorably blamed Boston’s traffic woes on the fact that many roadways started as cow paths. That may be as good as any explanation. But when the city can help untie some of the knots, it should do all it can to help the bewildered driver.