Philip Mathews: No room on Amherst roads for ‘Retreat’ traffic
To the editor:
In the ongoing discussion of the proposed massive student housing development in Cushman village, called by the developer “The Retreat,” many issues seem not to be clear. In a recent Gazette, a letter writer from Amherst wrote: “With buses and cars, I don’t think the students will find The Retreat too far from campus.” This kind of thinking demonstrates just how little the public knows about this development proposal and the major problems it would present. How easy it would be for the students to travel to school is hardly an issue.
From the time when this proposal was announced, one of our village’s major concerns has been the increased traffic this 700-bed development would inevitably create. All the roads bordering the proposed site of this project, including Henry Street, are narrow 19th-century roads and are designated scenic routes. The route comprising North East, Henry and Pine streets has served as the de facto bypass around downtown Amherst for decades; our daily traffic load already includes a steady stream of tractor-trailer rigs, buses, farm tractors, logging trucks, dump trucks and a wide array of other commercial vehicles, as well as passenger cars and motorcycles.
These roads are at or near maximum safe capacity. To add still another intersection (or two) and 700 more cars would pose a clear danger to life and limb for those who live on these roads as well as for the thousands who travel on them daily. There is no room here for a proposal of this scale and location.