Letter: Part-time Residents Should Pay Fair Share To Maintain Amherst’s Roads

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There are 32,045 students including 24,231 undergraduate and 7,814 graduate students at University of Massachusetts-Amherst for academic year 2021-2022.  Amherst College has 2000, Hampshire College has 500.  Add to this faculty and staff at all three, many of whom live elsewhere and commute.

Amherst is listed as having ~39,000 full time residents. This includes children and the elderly who do not drive. If the average household size is 3, it is unlikely that they have 3 cars. Students, faculty, and staff need transportation, and many have cars. Most of their traffic and that of large delivery trucks is on the main thoroughfares. Thus, those roads tend to need repairs more frequently than most local streets. The town road budget, funded mainly by our property taxes and perhaps car excise taxes, pays the lion’s share of road upkeep. Yet our local roads are in far worse condition than the main thoroughfares. The primary payer isn’t getting their fair share in my opinion.

Why doesn’t the town institute an annual fee for non-full time resident car owners which would expand the road budget? Town Councilor Andy Steinberg told me the University cares for roads on campus, but all that traffic must pass through non-campus streets to get there! I’d ask the Universities to kick in for town roads, as their buses, security vehicles, and maintenance vehicles use off campus roads too. These two sources would make the burden fairer and help keep our roads safer.

Steven Kurtz is a resident of Amherst

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