, Newburyport, MA


May 6, 2014

Our view: Highway abutters deserve better treatment


The family’s complaints, reported in The Daily News, resulted in retribution by a worker or workers on the site. In response to a comment by Mr. Taylor calling the situation akin to living in Fallujah, someone scrawled “Welcome to Fallujah, Baby!” on a girder next to their home. Another worker was fired when he lost control of a massive beam that was being maneuvered into place; the beam almost struck their home.

State Rep. Michael Costello, state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Mayor Ken Gray have been attentive to their problems. Costello and O’Connor Ives have called upon the state to take the Taylors’ home by eminent domain, something the Taylors want to see happen, as the value and quality of life have plummeted.

Many months ago the Taylors and others had asked the state to take their properties, but they were denied. Perhaps now things will change. We feel the Taylors’ wishes should be met.

Other stories and anecdotes are beginning to trickle in from homeowners who live along the local I-95 corridor. It’s clear that there will be more tales of inconvenience and misery as the project moves forward.

Some may argue caveat emptor — let the buyer beware. When buying a home near a highway, you can expect highway-related problems. But we suspect that no one could have anticipated the size and scope of the project that is underway now.

The bridge over the Merrimack River is being completely demolished and replaced. Hundreds of trees that buffered noise and light are gone. The highway is being widened, and the location of the roadway is being altered to meet the location of the new bridges. The net effect is the road is being moved far closer to homes than it had ever been.

It’s become increasingly clear that no one understood how much this project would impact people who live near the I-95 corridor. As these individual cases of hardship emerge, we think the state should do its utmost to sympathize and solve the problems, whether that means putting people up in temporary homes, repairing damage or taking properties that have lost substantial value.

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