An article in yesterday’s Globe triggered one of my fortunately rare moments of anger at the greater Boston metropolitan area where I live. The anger came toward the end of an article about poor, confusing, and absent road signs throughout the area:
Since 2001, state Senator Patricia D. Jehlen has been sponsoring legislation that would force communities to post signs at intersections, but the bill has gone nowhere. The Massachusetts Municipal Association opposes it as a costly burden that takes the decision away from communities.
Um. Excuse me? What decision are you taking away from communities? Is it the decision to do their jobs? Because really, if you build the roads but don’t put up the signs, why did you bother?
Clue for you, folks. Massachusetts has a high per capita income ($44,289) and a high rate of taxation (5.3%), while Washington State is lower on both fronts ($35,409 and no state income tax). But Washington State manages to actually post signs on all its streets! So does Virginia ($38,390/2% to 5.75%); so does North Carolina ($30,553/6%-8%). What is the state doing with the money it takes in income tax that it can’t afford to put up the damned signs itself, or grant money to the local communities?
Actually, this puts another question to my mind. If a local community can’t afford to put up street signs, and can’t keep residential streets paved or maintain storm sewers, then the system is broken. Either the towns need to build up their tax bases or small towns need to combine and consolidate services so they aren’t trying to each maintain their own systems. Or the state could get off its ass and make sure the municipalities have what they need to serve their people.