Police escort of officer shuts down SE Expressway

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, I emerged from the Central Artery tunnel in heavy, stop-and-go traffic heading south on the Southeast Expressway.

It was clear something was going on because two helicopters were hovering in place high overhead – one over near Boston Medical Center and the other above the expressway itself.

As my car neared the South Bay Center, traffic came to a dead stop. Police officers on motorcycles blocked off all four lanes so the expressway was empty heading south.  

I got out of my car and looked around. I could see fire engines ahead on the Boston Street and Dorchester Avenue overpasses, which made me wonder whether there was some threat there.  

Off to my right, on Frontage Road, officers were standing on the road directing traffic while police motorcycles and vehicles were whizzing by and merging onto the now-empty expressway heading south.  

Suddenly, dozens of police on motorcycles and in vehicles surrounding a hearse flew by on Frontage Road. They merged onto the expressway and headed south traveling fast. A huge white helicopter seemed to follow them flying low over the expressway heading south. 

Once the convoy of vehicles was out of sight, traffic was allowed to start moving again. I was now running late for a 3 p.m. press conference downtown so I got dropped off at the UMass/JFK MBTA Station and took the Red Line into town. 

Just before the press conference began, I asked Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler if he knew what was happening. He checked his phone and said he had no emergency alerts. 

One of his aides did a quick search online and found a tweet from Universal Hub indicating police were transferring the body of a Randolph police officer. 

I called the Boston Police Department and the spokesman had no details. David Procopio, the spokesman for the State Police, confirmed in an email that the body of a Randolph police officer was being escorted from the medical examiner’s office in Boston to a funeral home in Randolph. He had no other details. 

The officer was Michael D. Beal, 61, of Norwell who had served on the Randolph police force for 35 years. He died off-duty in an early morning rollover car crash on Route 3 in Hingham on Saturday.

“He was an amazing person and friend to all within this department. This amazing family man leaves behind a wife and eight children,” Randolph Police Chief Anthony Marag said after the incident. “Please keep his family, friends, and members of the Randolph Police Department in your thoughts and prayers.” 

I don’t know what route the escort took to get to Randolph but the options would be to take the expressway to 93/128 to Randolph or to cut through Milton. Either way, it would take a massive police presence to shut down traffic that entire way.

It’s an amazing tribute to an officer, but it’s also a huge commitment of resources and an inconvenience to many drivers. 

BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Bus routes redesigned: After going decades making no major changes to the MBTA’s bus route system, the transit authority unveiled a preliminary redesign that emphasizes more service at greater frequency on more routes. 

– The routes with frequent service, defined as pickups at least every 15 minutes all day every day of the week, are doubling from 15 to 30. Several communities, including Everett, Lynn, Medford, Somerville, South Boston, and West Roxbury, will see a sharp uptick in frequent service. The Longwood Medical Area is being given high priority, going from two to six routes with frequent service.

– Overall, the redesign is expected to increase service 25 percent across the entire network and 70 percent on weekends. T General Manager Steve Poftak said an estimated 275,000 more residents in the MBTA service area will now have access to frequent bus service. Read more.

3 Blue Line derailments: MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said repair vehicles derailed three times while laying new track for the Blue Line, two more times than previously disclosed. T officials were not forthcoming about the problems last week, providing more fodder for an ongoing safety investigation being led by the Federal Transit Administration.

– “Derailments are never a good thing, but just to clarify these were not Blue Line vehicles, they were not revenue vehicles. These were tool carts being used for construction,” Poftak said. Asked why the derailments were not disclosed earlier, Poftak said: “I’m sharing that with you now. I don’t know the strategy of not doing it previously, but I wasn’t involved with that.”  Read more.

No East-West rail authority: Provisions establishing a new East-West rail authority and accompanying funding stream were not included in the transportation bond bill reported out of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. The provisions could be added as the bill makes its way through the Legislature, but their absence from the committee bill is a setback. Read more.

OPINION

Child care needs are great: Rep. Susan Moran of Falmouth says the House budget makes a good start on addressing the state’s child care needs, but much more needs to be done. “No family should have to pay more than they can afford for childcare, and no teacher should feel that their labor is undervalued,” she writes. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

As Senate staff move to unionize, data show the salaries paid to Senate chiefs of staff vary widely. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Brookline’s schools are reopening today after a one-day strike by teachers. (WBUR)

Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan appoints Dennis Eaniri, a former city councilor who did not seek reelection last year after being sanctioned by the state for using campaign donations for personal expenses, to the city’s parking authority. (The Enterprise

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Amid a baby formula shortage, Abbott reaches an agreement with the FDA to reopen its factory, but it will take eight weeks for more products to be shipped to stores. (Associated Press)

A new initiative was launched to tackle health disparities suffered by Black and Latino residents in the state. (Boston Globe

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Biden travels to Buffalo today where he will speak out against the scourge of racist violence that claimed 10 lives there over the weekend. (New York Times

ELECTIONS

Dianne Wilkerson, the former Roxbury state senator who served time in federal prison for accepting a $23,500 bribe, lands on the front page of the Globe in her comeback attempt to win her former seat. She says the district won’t hold her corruption conviction against her because lots of Black men have had some sort of court involvement. (Boston Globe

Grammy Award-winning singer Carole King endorses Sydney Levin-Epstein for Massachusetts Senate and sings at a virtual fundraiser for her. (MassLive)

Lee voters send a message about a plan to dump Housatonic River contaminated sediment in a Lee landfill by electing an opponent of the plan to the Select Board and passing a nonbinding referendum opposing the plan. (Berkshire Eagle)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Businesses, many of them limited liability corporations, are buying up a growing number of single family homes across Massachusetts as investments, raising concerns that they are forcing out families and driving up home prices. (GBH)

The wedding industry is seeing a surge in weddings after two years of cancellations and postponements. (Patriot Ledger)

The Catholic Cistercian monks living at St. Joseph’s Abbey announce plans to close Spencer Brewery, the only certified Trappist brewery in North America. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

The Boston Public Schools have received 31 applications for the superintendent post being vacated by Brenda Cassellius. (Boston Globe

The Pioneer Institute, which previously called for the Boston schools to be put into state receivership, now says a more limited state takeover of its lowest performing schools and central office makes sense as a more focused intervention. (Boston Herald

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Vineyard Wind hires New Bedford company Patriot Offshore Maritime Services to build and operate a crew transfer vessel. (Standard-Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Former MIT professor John Donovan is sentenced to two years in prison for forgery related to handling his late son’s estate. (Salem News)

PASSINGS

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen offers a poignant tribute to Ralph Whitehead, a retired journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and frequent source of political insight for reporters and elected officials alike, who died last week at 78. 

Raymond Nicolosi Jr., an auto technology teacher at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School, who also coached sports and worked with church youth groups, dies of cancer at 46. (MassLive)