New Bedford Hopes Different Cobblestone Layout Will Cut Down on Panhandling
Construction crews that showed up to New Bedford's octopus intersection Tuesday morning had a unique job ahead of them. Not only were they tasked with removing the controversially-angled cobblestones cemented in the median strip, they were to change up the layout with the goal of driving away even more panhandling.
The "spiked" cobblestones were installed three years ago at the intersection of Route 6 and Pleasant Street with the purpose of discouraging panhandlers from begging for money in a dangerous location. They were immediately met with complaints from those who thought the angled cobblestones were immoral, and ironically, dangerous to pedestrians.
If you regularly travel over the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge, you don't need to be told that the angled cobblestones have not been 100 percent effective. Each day, there are familiar faces begging for money, carefully walking on the crooked cobblestones as a line of cars backs up at the stoplight.
According to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell's spokesperson, Jonathan Carvalho, the cobblestones have been ripped up and reset in a different way. They have been cemented into the median with the tall side sticking up.
"The hope is to make this median strip as safe as possible," Carvalho said. "It's just not safe to have people walking on a median strip in the middle of heavy traffic."
The new configuration has the cobblestones more dramatically spaced out. Although it is hard to imagine, it is even more difficult to walk on the cobblestones as they lay now.
Mitchell's office said there are no current plans to do this to the median strip at the intersection of Route 6 and Route 140. Perhaps the city wants to see the effectiveness of cobblestones 2.0 first.