Metro

Bills would slap serious charges on those who block highways

A State Police officer used a saw to cut into a barrel that protesters blocking the Southeast Expressway attached themselves to on Jan. 15.
Scott Eisen/Globe Photo/File
A State Police officer used a saw to cut into a barrel that protesters blocking the Southeast Expressway attached themselves to on Jan. 15.

In response to a protest that purposefully blocked both directions of the Southeast Expressway, state Representatives Colleen Garry, Timothy Whelan, and Walter Timilty pushed Tuesday for increased penalties against similar actions.

Protesters in Milton and Medford took commuters and others by surprise in January when they used materials to link arms across Interstate 93, creating a human chain that blocked traffic heading into Boston during the morning commute.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Garry said the highway protest also blocked people from chemotherapy and dialysis appointments.

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Garry’s legislation would allow authorities to charge anyone who blocks “access to or upon the public highway or roadway for any purpose other than road construction, maintenance, or official traffic direction by a public safety official” with attempt to murder.