Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

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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