8.09.2005

McDonalds and Massachusetts highways

What's the difference between the McDonald's on I-95 South in Newton, and the McDonalds on I-90 East in Natick?

About 60 feet.

I'm talking about the sign, of course. In Natick, the giant golden arches are mounted on a giant pole at the highway restaurant. It's easily visible from nearby residential neighborhoods. At the Newton rest area, the only thing on a giant pole is the American flag. The McDonald's sign is where it belongs -- on a much shorter pedestal near the ground.

Why the different treatment? I can only speculate that it has to do with differences between the Mass Turnpike Authority -- which manages the Mass Pike (I-90) but does not answer to state voters -- and the state government, which manages I-90/Route 128. If a big, ugly corporation like McDonalds were allowed to place giant signs along the length of 128, voters would be furious, and there would be hell to pay at the polls and in highway maintainance budget meetings. But the Mass Turnpike Authority, which was made an independent body many decades ago, in order to create tolls and use other methods to raise money to build the highway without having to "raise taxes," pretty much does what it wants. If people living near the Mass Pike don't like the sound of idling trucks, or the smell of greasy food, or ugly yellow signs, complain all you want, but your elected officials won't be able to help you.

Just another example of government selling out the rights of citizens and voters.

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