It is essentially impossible to track or contain criminal behavior in Ipswich, and thus it has always been.
At least since 1687, when Rev. John Wise went to prison for refusing to pay British-imposed taxes, Ipswich has been home to innumerable lawbreakers. People roaring past Doyon at 25 mph when the lights are blinking and the limit is 20. People insolently running lawn sprinklers during drought-driven watering bans. People secretly building walls and installing doors inside their homes without proper permitting. The list of violations boggles the mind.
With generations of miscreants, Ipswich is the Australia of New England.
Now we see the tragic tendency toward feloniousness on County Street, where the state has closed one lane of the bridge and barred southbound travel over it. Neighbors in the area will attest that innumerable reprobates are sneaking their vehicles over the semi-crippled span. Should we be surprised? One-way — wrong way — the Ipswich way.
But it’s dangerous. And rude. And illegal. So it should stop.
Police surveillance can only accomplish so much. Our officers of the law are smart, dedicated, and mostly good-looking, but there are not enough of them to station someone on County Street around the clock.
So I humbly suggest some alternatives.
- Install a strip of traffic spikes across the north end of the bridge, with the usual sign — “Do not back up: Severe tire damage” — but paint over “Do not back up” and replace it with “Do not proceed southbound.” Or possibly “Do not proceed southbound, you loser.”
- Duck-hunting season ends next week. Employ frustrated duck-hunters. They can apply their duck-blind skills, hiding behind the jersey barriers. Give them paintball guns and have them aim at southbound tires. For second offenders, live ammunition.
- It’s inevitable that a number of paintball-marked vehicles will be roaming around town. Establish a bounty system so any law-abiding citizen can join in on the fun. For letting the air out of the tires of a paintball-marked vehicle, you get $4. There’s precedent for this. You get 40¢ a pound for trapping those annoying green crabs. And a second-offender southbound scofflaw is at least 10 times as annoying as a pound of green crabs.
- Adapt the classic Looney Tunes element: a trap door. This one, situated on the north end of the bridge, is triggered by a sensor that reads the direction you’re moving. Activate the sensor moving southbound, and you’re suddenly Wile E. Coyote, but the aquatic version, as you’re swimming in the Ipswich River.
- Any lobsterman can show you how a lobster gets into a trap and then can’t get out. A lobster trap is brilliant but simple, and virtually foolproof. So we build an enormous lobster trap, set it up over the bridge, and whenever someone drives into the north end of it, they discover they can’t drive out the south end of it. All they can do is eat the bait. When you finish those barrelsful of herring, bluefish, and mackerel, we’ll let you out.
Of course, there’s an alternative to these alternatives. You could stay off the County Street bridge headed southbound. You could respect the law, and other drivers, and yourself.
And spare yourself the herring.
Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, in perfect compliance with local, state, and federal laws, except perhaps for the one about rinsing your aluminum foil before you recycle it. Follow him at Outsidah.com.