Patches make for bumpy ride in Newton
Route 16 repairs not on calendar
Reader Steven Higgs is a professional musician who does a lot of driving in and out of Boston to gigs. He asks why nothing has been done to improve a very heavily traveled section of Washington Street, also known as Route 16, in Newton.
“I live in Framingham and have noticed along a stretch of Route 16 (roughly between Route 128 and the Turnpike starting around Newton-Wellesley Hospital) that the condition of Route 16 is terrible,’’ Higgs wrote. “I noticed the black tar ‘strip’ of patchwork down the middle of the entire stretch in question — but not the entire sides of road that actually need it the most.’’
Like many drivers, a Globe reporter has often used Route 16 through Newton as a shortcut between the Mass. Pike and Route 128. A recent visit found the portion from Route 128 in Newton Lower Falls past the hospital in reasonably good shape. But the stretch between Commonwealth Avenue and Perkins Street, by the West Newton off ramp from the Mass. Pike, was particularly shabby for such a busy road. The concrete surface was scarred with strips of thick, fresh-looking tar patches on both sides and, in some spots, down the center.
Large, sloppy patches of tar left in lumps apparently to fill potholes only added to the uncomfortably bumpy ride. The nearly invisible yellow center line and lack of shoulder markings also suggest it’s been quite a long time since this section of Route 16 was repaired.
“For an apparently ‘affluent’ town in this region, it’s a shame and ironic the ‘main drag’ along this route isn’t properly maintained,’’ Higgs wrote. “Thanks, if you can bring light (and/or any explanation) to this condition that I’ve never seen rectified in several years now.’’
Inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection went to the plant on May 12. They could not detect any chemical odors from the plant, but they did notice another distinctive smell: natural gas leaking from nearby gas mains belonging to National Grid. Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Jim Ferson said the agency notified the company immediately.
David Graves, a National Grid spokesman, told GlobeWatch there are several leaks in gas pipes along Cambridge Street, by the Mass. Pike ramps at Genzyme and under the River Street bridge. Two were plugged right away. Repairs to the others have been slowed by wet weather, which has made excavation work tricky, by the volume of traffic in the area, and by an equipment shortage. Those repairs should be completed in a couple of weeks. Graves said the leaks are low level and present no danger.
Christina Pazzanese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org