YIKES: Could the Zakim Bridge collapse in a repeat of what happened in Minnesota from earlier this summer?
When you’re a student, it can seem as if reality just freezes when you leave town for the summer — and then, obligingly, thaws itself out whenever you happen to come back. But that’s not the case. The summer of ’07, for example, was actually jam-packed with local news — some tragic, some odd, and some (not quite enough, but still) that was actually good. Thoughtful publication that the Phoenix is, we’re going to catch you up — quick.
GAY MARRIAGE isn’t going anywhere, thanks to the oft-reviled Massachusetts Legislature, which killed a proposed state-constitutional amendment banning same-sex nuptials on June 14.
MITT ROMNEY’s presidential campaign seems to be gaining momentum. Our ex-governor (in name, at least) recently won the Iowa Republican straw poll and is running strong in New Hampshire. This, despite the Boston Globe’s revelation that Romney once strapped the family dog atop the station wagon for a long road trip, prompting the poor animal to crap on the roof.
Screw Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun — in a few years, you may be able to feed your nascent GAMBLING addiction right here in Massachusetts! The newly recognized Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is moving ahead with plans to build a casino in the southern suburb of Middleborough. Boston mayor Tom Menino wants to build one at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, and State Treasurer Tim Cahill thinks we should plop them down around the state.
The BIG DIG tunnel collapse that killed Milena Del Valle this past year finally yielded a grand-jury indictment. On August 8, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that Powers Fasteners, one of the companies who supplied adhesive materials for the faulty roof, would be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of — wait for it — a $1000 fine. (No, it really doesn’t seem like much.) Settlement talks between the state and Bechtel/Parsons Brinckherhoff, the project’s manager, are ongoing.
Speaking of scary public-works problems, it turns out that the tunnel underneath STORROW DRIVE wasn’t designed to be waterproof when it was built a few decades ago — which means we can all look forward to more traffic-stopping construction in the heart of the city. One option under discussion: diverting traffic onto the ESPLANADE while construction proceeds, which would probably hurt the ambience a bit. Of course, that ambience has already been compromised by the two sexual assaults that occurred on the Esplanade this summer. (Police have a suspect in mind, but not in custody.) For good measure, a report released just before the Minneapolis bridge collapse suggested that the LONGFELLOW BRIDGE — the one that carries cars, pedestrians, and the Red Line from Boston to Cambridge — is in terrible shape. Also, six steel plates that hold the ZAKIM BRIDGE’s support cables in place show signs of warping. Or maybe they were damaged when they were installed, as state officials claim. In any case, you may want to look out below.
More bad transportation news: a humungous storm-sewer grate on ROUTE 128 flipped up on July 27, critically injuring a motorist and planting one more festering fear in the collective psyche of Boston-area commuters.