Security bollards being installed in front of State House
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, thigh-high bollards and giant planters sprouted outside government buildings across the country to deter terrorists and keep car bombers at bay.
Now, some 21 years later, the Massachusetts State House is going the same route, although the bollards – vertical posts secured in concrete – are being installed not to protect the historic building itself but the people who regularly hold protests, rallies, and press conferences on its front doorstep.
The State House is one of the most iconic buildings in Boston, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and identified as both a national and a Massachusetts historic landmark.
The bollards being installed near the sidewalk along Beacon Street represent a fairly dramatic change to the view of the State House.
A state official, who asked not to be identified, explained that the bollards are not designed to protect the State House itself.
“The installation of these barriers is designed to protect people who gather at the base of the State House front steps (for example, for a rally or press conference) from vehicles traveling on Beacon Street that could potentially jump the curb,” the official said in an email. “This is part of a larger series of upgrades to the exterior of the building. Similar barriers are already in place along Mt. Vernon and Bowdoin streets.”
The official described the barriers as “precautionary.”
The official said no summary of the work currently being done at the State House was available, but noted a heavy focus on dealing with water infiltration at many locations by removing and replacing pavers, stairs, balustrades, walls, sidewalks, and other features. As part of the work on the so-called West Wing Plaza, a statue of former president John F. Kennedy has been moved down much closer to Beacon Street.
It appears a large chunk of the work, including the bollards, is focused on enhancing security at the State House. The Massachusetts Historical Commission in March 2020 reviewed what it called the State House Security Improvement Project.
In a letter to the state officials overseeing the project, Brona Simon, the executive director of the commission, said a proposed redesign of the handicapped accessible entrance on the Ashburton side of the building, including the removal of two staircases and the conversion of a window into a door opening, would have an “adverse effect” on the State House. Simon recommended eliminating or mitigating the changes.
Simon raised no objection to the bollards in front of the State House.
A second try: Mass General Brigham, after months of consultation with the Health Policy Commission, submitted a second plan for bringing its costs down. The new plan is almost identical to the previous plan but with higher cost-savings estimates – $127.8 million a year instead of $70 million.
– The state’s largest hospital system is the first to go through the development of a performance improvement plan with the Health Policy Commission, so what happens next is a bit unclear. The commission, which is charged with keeping state health care costs under control, is expected to review the latest plan at a meeting next week. Read more.
Sports betting licensing quirks: The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is grappling with some sports betting licensing quirks. The consensus among potential applicants for licenses is that temporary licenses, which are allowed under the state’s new law, are unwise, and letting some applicants take bets earlier than others distorts the market. Read more.
Getting rid of lead pipes: Rep. Jay Livingstone of Boston draws attention to lead pipes carrying drinking water into homes and the many programs that can be tapped to defray the cost of replacing them. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The Boxford town administrator is charged with drunk driving after a crash. (Salem News)
It’s certainly not yet at the level of buyer’s remorse, but an editorial in the Globe, which earlier backed Kevin Hayden as the better choice of two flawed candidates for Suffolk district attorney, implores him not to backtrack on his avowed commitment to juvenile justice reforms after Hayden fired the head of that unit in his office.
The Boston Celtics suspend head coach Ime Udoka for a year for an improper relationship with a member of the Celtics organization. It’s unclear whether Udoka will return to the team. (Associated Press)
As striking Starbucks workers return to work in Boston, the company and employees disagree on what’s changed. (GBH)
GBH interviews Awadagin Pratt, a professor of piano at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, who appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra this week playing a piece that was written for him.
The Worcester Regional Transit Authority votes to continue making its system fare free until next summer. (Telegram & Gazette)
The shiny new Orange Line cars may be nice, but riders say the speed restrictions during the MBTA line’s first week back in service are not. (Boston Herald)
State leaders are planning to put out a call for federal help with skyrocketing energy costs. (Boston Herald) Secretary of State Bill Galvin veers off his official election oversight role to call for a $50 million state fund to help heating oil customers. (Boston Globe)
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority drops entry fees for new communities to join its water supply, in an effort to lure more communities in and lower costs for current users. (Eagle-Tribune)
Supply chain issues are delaying wind farm projects planned off the Massachusetts coast. (Boston Globe)
As sea levels rise, a historic cemetery in Cohasset is slipping underwater. (USA Today Network)
A new shipwreck is discovered in the tides off Conomo Point in Essex. (Gloucester Daily Times)
South Shore communities get $4.3 million in state coastal infrastructure grants to help them prepare for climate change. (Patriot Ledger)
The Department of Justice reaches a deal with embattled Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph that involves dropping all federal charges against her and letting the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct handle any sanctions of her moves to help an undocumented immigrant slip out the backdor of her court rather than face arrest by federal authorities waiting there for him. (Boston Globe)
Investigators are putting a renewed focus on a Cambridge resident who used to live in Chicago in the 40-year-old investigation into fatal poisonings that occurred when people took Tylenol laced with cyanide. (Chicago Tribune)
Joseph Thompson, the founding director of Mass MoCA, is found not guilty of motor vehicle homicide. (Berkshire Eagle)
The FBI is asking questions about a woodworking program staffed by inmates at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
A jury found that the conservative group Project Veritas, which views itself as a journalism organization, violated wiretapping laws and misrepresented itself in a sting operation against Democratic political consultants. One of those consultants, Democracy Partners, was awarded $120,000 in the civil lawsuit. (New York Times)PASSINGS
Eric Jackson, whose “Eric in the Evening” jazz show on WGBH radio was for decades an icon of the region’s airwaves, died at age 72. (Boston Globe)