No On One, Road Diet Instead
It was the early 1990s when my grad school colleague introduced me to SimCity. We were both studying infrastructure: I did roads; she did sewers. We were city management nerds. To win SimCity you had to build a thriving metropolis of homes, offices, roads, rails, parks, and the rest. If you weren't careful, taxes would fall, infrastructure would crumble, and residents would chase you out of town. We were hooked.
Hooked, that is, until she figured out the secret. “All you have to do is build roads,” she said. Roads attract residents, tax revenues grow, you build roads, a virtuous cycle.
I recalled that lesson when I read on this site about Question One. It asks taxpayers to approve $12.5 million for road repair. That's more than three times what's being asked for the schools. Yet, while the “No on a School Override” signs are everywhere, no one seems to question road spending.
The solution to potholes is not to demand a giant tax hike. It is to reduce the acres of road we need to maintain. Consider the town parking lot of Bessom Street. It is a moonscape. If we spend money to fix the potholes now, we'll be spending money to maintain them forever. But, if we tear up the parking lot... . The same is true of Atlantic Avenue. We could repair the four lanes downtown, or shrink it to three lanes and save 25 percent on that road in perpetuity. When you can't afford to maintain a home, you move. They're not called money pits for nothing.
What we need is not a gargantuan override but a road diet. Shrink the roads so they won't eat up so much taxpayer money. Marblehead's not a simulation; it's real life and $12.5 million is real money. Voting No on One is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Leicester Road, Marblehead