Editorial: Clearing up bridge ownership

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

As the continuing story that is the Schell Memorial Bridge continues to be written, Northfield residents have to like the latest news when it comes to the plans for the new structure — the town won’t have to bear the financial burden of maintaining it. Instead it will be the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which has announced it will be the owner of the new bridge that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the Connecticut River. When all this might happen, of course, is still undecided since the Department of Transportation — which will be taking the now-closed bridge down and constructing the new bridge — hasn’t scheduled the project. But since the DOT didn’t want to take ownership of the new structure, having another state agency step forward is a step in the right direction.

Observing Labor Day

The face of labor in the United States continues to be a changing one, and certainly much different from the era in which the idea of a “Labor Day” observance first took place. The America of the 1880s was a time of transformation throughout the nation, where unions and the rights of the working man were taking center stage. A demonstration and picnic was put together by the Central Labor Union of New York, Brooklyn and New Jersey that attracted thousands of workers, many who had to lose a day’s pay to participate in the parade. In the years that followed, similar celebrations of the worker would be held in other cities and towns across the country. Those struggles and others since have resulted in things like the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage and other conditions that benefit many Americans. As stated in the Democratic National Platform for 1920, “Laws regulating hours of labor and conditions under which labor is performed are just assertions of the national interest in the welfare of the people.” We must not forget history even as labor changes.

Clearing the way for safety

Kudos to the newly formed Greenfield Area Bicycle Coalition and its efforts toward making cycling safer in the area. The group was instrumental in putting together a volunteer cleanup along Turners Falls Road, to make the road’s shoulders better for bicycle and pedestrian use. We hope that this is just one of many routes that the coalition will consider cleaning.

The Schell Memorial Bridge is a heritage structure. It deserves to be a small state park dedicated to our nation's civil engineer heritage. ( Yes, the state should spend some of money outside of Boston. ) The bike-ped bridge will be pale cipher next to the grandeur of the historic Schell.

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