Scrolling Headlines:

Political discourse heats up at Amherst College -

September 19, 2017

Author Thomas Suarez leads talk on Israel-Palestine conflict -

September 19, 2017

Q&A with DKMS ambassador -

September 19, 2017

SPIRE changes to include more gender and sexual orientation options -

September 19, 2017

Massachusetts men’s soccer looks for first road win of the season -

September 19, 2017

Top 25 notebook: Mason Rudolph and No. 6 Oklahoma State roll past Pittsburgh -

September 19, 2017

Streaking UMass men’s soccer stares down final non-conference team -

September 19, 2017

Let’s embrace innovation -

September 19, 2017

First response is important, but a long-term response is too -

September 19, 2017

Traveling through a changing life -

September 19, 2017

Community and local goods mix at student farmer’s market -

September 19, 2017

Fifth annual Poetry Festival reading -

September 19, 2017

Peacemaker Najeeba Syeed discusses interfaith cooperation in a time of Islamaphobia -

September 18, 2017

UMass hosts lecture on the meaning of the word ‘genocide’ -

September 18, 2017

Thirty-three arrested, 18 hospitalized during first weekend of semester -

September 18, 2017

UMass women’s soccer stuns Yale on Marra’s late winner -

September 18, 2017

UMass men’s soccer slips past Colgate 1-0 -

September 18, 2017

UMass field hockey wins weekend set over Davidson, UML -

September 18, 2017

Strong second half leads Massachusetts men’s soccer over Colgate -

September 18, 2017

Being promiscuous helps me cope and there’s nothing wrong with that -

September 18, 2017

UMass vs. Amherst

When driving in Massachusetts, you’re likely to pay attention to traffic reports about Storrow Drive. If you are heading to the Sox game, the Weston Tolls. If you are going home from work, the Leverett Connector, the Zakim Bridge, the Cloverleaf. These are all common enough, but over the past two weeks, it is safe to say that traveling to and from campus trumps all of the above.

With temporary roadblocks up on Lincoln and Sunset Avenues, among others, off-campus students, faculty and staff have all been inconvenienced to placate a few landowners.

There is no doubt that hosting thousands of seasonal students is a struggle for a small town like Amherst. They must have a larger police department to deal with a population that spikes for two four month periods of the year; they must set aside appropriate resources for fire and medical emergencies. The roads must surely take a beating from the amount of traffic that may not be designed to handle.

So, surely Amherst has to contend with major headaches as it hopes to accommodate over 20,000 students. And that’s just UMass.

But there are just as surely many benefits. Local businesses from bars and restaurants to delivery pizza places to bookstores all do an incredible amount of business compared to what they might normally see if there was no behemoth of commerce looming just a mile away.

It is also not as if students are constantly under threat either. Ride a PVTA bus and you are bombarded with signs detailing what might happen if you are an underage student found in possession of alcohol. A new sign is up this year though, threatening Amherst and Hadley’s new nuisance house and party rules basically promising to put partying students through hell for doing what college students have done for decades.

The town of Amherst takes out enough of its anger and spite on students as it is, often not without merit. As I wrote last week, some drunken scum stole flags off the Amherst American Legion and damaged its flag pole. Incidents like that draw the ire of the entire town, and for good reason.

One could only hope that the same happened when two of the major roads leading to campus were shut down to through traffic. But there actually has been widespread disappointment. Amherst’s token right wing whack-job Larry Kelley has posted on his website all the public comments made to the town regarding the closures. There are definitely a few who appreciate the new obstacles, but the vast majority bemoans them.

Granted, the roads in question may not be designated to handle this kind of traffic, but speed ramps could potentially do the trick. It seemed whenever the ramps were put up, they would be gone the next week, then back up for a couple of days like a bipolar person jumping from personality to personality. In shutting down these roads, Amherst has now funneled the traffic through just a few roads when coming from Amherst Center.

University Avenue is a possibility, but there is always traffic on Massachusetts Avenue. Further, the UMass Police are constantly standing guard on University Avenue to pull you over, search you and hassle you in anyway possible if you are going 26 mph instead of the prescribed 25 – whether it’s 9 a.m. on a Monday or nearing midnight on a Friday.

Taking North Pleasant is just pure torture if you are trying to get to the lots near Mullins Center or the Campus Center Garage. Students walk onto the streets as if they are invincible and UMass police are always patrolling like sharks on the prowl. Jaywalking is certainly just fine. But beware if you do not see a student preparing to cross the street, the police react like you hit the kid.

One other potential route is taking East Pleasant either from North Pleasant or by going around the Wildwood school on Strong Street. This has been the most convenient route lately, but it makes the commute at least five or 10 minutes longer.

The road closures also affect those who take the bus. This year, I have suffered some of the longest bus rides to and from school and winter has not even hit yet. Even those who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, use less gas and save money on parking permits get a raw deal. Meanwhile, those in the giant houses along Lincoln and Sunset are rewarded.

Amherst and UMass obviously have to coexist because UMass is going nowhere. Randomly shutting down roads that get students, faculty and staff to campus conveniently and quickly to campus might appease a few property owners, but it is a bone-headed decision made in spite of the economic engine that powers this region. Hopefully, these road closures are not made permanent.

Nick Milano is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at nmilano@student.umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “UMass vs. Amherst”
  1. Ed Cutting says:

    What people fail to realize is that Lincoln Avenue once was the MAIN road to campus (the student union circle once was part of Lincoln Avenue and it went from Lot 71 straight through campus, coming out by where the GRC Towers are now). It has been there since essentially the Civil War (note the side streets named after Union Generals, one since re-named after Bill Cosby) and everyone who bought those houses knew where the road went. To UMass.

    And they bought houses because between 1992 and 2002 or so, housing values in Amherst DOUBLED. One guy literally spent a million dollars for a house – sight unseen – when he bought it over the internet! And they thought that they would double again – except the bubble burst and the people who bought are now unable to sell for even what they paid.

    So they want the town to increase the value of their property by closing the road. They want the poor to subsidize the rich.

    And it is corruption. The head of the League of Women Voters lives on Lincoln Avenue. The head of the town Transportation Committee lives there as well.

    And it does hurt air quality.

  2. Alumnus says:

    Ed knows all about UMass… he’s been a student since William Smith Clark was President of the College.

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