Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Big Dig Tunnel Name 

Very soon, the new I-93 tunnel going under the City of Boston will have a name other than "The Big Dig Tunnel," or as it's been known more recently, "The Big Leaking Mess." The federal highway and transit bill which is on its way to Pres. Bush for signature, authorizes that the tunnel shall be named the Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr. Tunnel.

Tip O'Neill was a US Representative from Massachusetts, and was the powerful and long-serving Speaker of the House back when the House was under Democratic control. He worked long and hard to secure funding for the landscape-changing project that has opened up streets of downtown Boston to the sky once more. I-93 used to be an elevated highway that ran like a scar through Boston, separating the business district from the waterfront, and casting darkness and exhaust fumes over the road and pedestrian ways that passed beneath it. The project is also introducing "more than 300 acres of landscaped and restored open space, including over 45 parks and major public plazas."

Our ambitious governor protested the proposed name, and instead wished the tunnel to be named the "Freedom Tunnel." He would have had another smaller portion of the Mass Pike named after O'Neill, and states that the "Freedom Tunnel" would be an effort to honor military veterans from Massachusetts. Of course, this might have been more clear if he had suggested naming it the "Massachusetts Veterans Tunnel," but that really wouldn't have been so catchy or conducive to national promotion.

I'm thinking that his proposed name is instead yet another effort to honor his presidential ambition. Much better that this conservative Republican candidate be known for naming a major landmark "Freedom" than for allowing a major landmark to be named for the iconic Democratic leader who strived so hard to make it happen.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:43 AM