The passing of passing

What’s the fastest road in Massachusetts?

There’s a tie between several Interstates you’d guess and one road you probably wouldn’t guess.

According to MassDOT sensors, traffic on US 20 east of Russell is as fast as traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike a mile to the south. Has the sensor gone rogue, or is there something special about this rural two lane?

One thing is special. There are climbing lanes over a small hill. That three lane section is the only reliable passing opportunity for the 30 miles between Westfield and Lee.

In the rest of the country I see passing zones marked they way they are supposed to be. City streets in Pasadena and Kenosha have dashed yellows. Not in Massachusetts. Most towns paint a double stripe everywhere, urban or rural, no matter what the sight distance.

US 20 does have centerlines marked more or less to standards, but it’s a curving road in hilly terrain. If you get lucky with oncoming traffic there’s a good straightaway west of Huntington and another east of Lee.

Many state highways don’t have properly marked pavement markings. Sometimes painting crews leave the switch on “double yellow” the whole trip.

Drivers here aren’t used to passing the old fashioned way. They don’t like it and they don’t know how. And there’s an artificial risk.

Drivers going 70 in a 55 in their own lane when a cop appears can slam on the brakes then act innocent. Drivers who crossed the centerline have no choice but to finish the pass at high speed and eat the ticket.

So they wait for an added lane then floor it.

The opinions expressed in belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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