State to tear down Forest Hills overpass, replace it with reconfigured surface roads

The Jamaica Plain Gazette reports MassDOT has decided to go with a wider New Washington Street and reconfigured intersections rather than a new overpass when it tears down the current crumbling Casey Overpass in a $52-million redo.

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Three years?

It's going to take three years to tear it down and lay some asphalt? What is wrong with Massachusetts and public works? This should take six months.

So much for Whose Food giving a shit about gentrification

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http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/off/2878626680.html

All the people who were so deeply concerned about gentrification don't seem to have realized or cared that Forest Hills is about to become yuppie central, prices for commercial and residential properties will skyrocket, etc.

The commercial real estate companies like WCI are already licking their chops at the additional traffic, especially since the construction will probably weed out the existing, low-rent businesses that are barely making it now. Perfect!

Looking forward to it

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Looking forward to it (speaking as a current homeowner in the area who is underwater).

What am I missing here?

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What does WCI have to do with Whose Foods? And in case you hadn't noticed, JP has been gentrifying for quite a while, even with the big, crumbling bridge in its midst.

A rather odd comment wasn't it?

That building is nearing completion, was conceived and constructed before any decision was made, so his comment gets a big WTF? The other thing is that the building is technically in Roslindale, as will the second (yet to be built) section across the street.

But what is the most strange about it, is that the at grade solution is intended to make it easier for this kind of building to succeed. So what he is essentially arguing is that he'd prefer a bridge because it diminishes local business opportunities.

Not technically Roslindale

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I agree with the sentiment of your reply comment, but the Arboretum Place building linked above is said to be built adjacent to the Forrest Hills T stop. That would mean that the building would be in Jamaica Plain.

EDIT: Wait, the map I'm looking at for Aboretum Place is tiny and not precise, and on second look, it does look like it could be in Roslindale. You're probably right; my apologies.

Where?

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Are you worried about the MBTA parking lot or the train parking lines or Archdale housing project getting gentrified?

I don't get it.

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I don't get it. What possible difference does the at-grade solution(as opposed to the bridge) make in what the Forest Hills neighborhood is becoming? If anything, this will help existing businesses (lots more traffic going past every day), and getting rid of the massive bridge leaves room for new development.

I guess you could make the argument that the new landscape is going to be less ugly, which might push real estate prices up a bit, but it's not like this is going to be transformative for the whole neighborhood.

The gentrification myth

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Gentrification means a home owner can sell at a profit. I really doubt the thousands of home owners across the country facing foreclosure would be so worried about gentrification.

The neighborhood is filled

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The neighborhood is filled with section 8 housing. If anything that is what pushes up the rents, because the landlords know the tenants come in with a subsidy, and charge the maximum.

The overpass itself likely

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The overpass itself likely contributed to an induced demand situation. Over-sized roads typically lead to more and higher speed traffic.

What is so awful about

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What is so awful about induced demand? It just means that people and businesses move close to the road so that the can commute on it. Tearing the bridge down and slowing traffic will lower property values along 203, not increase them.

mmm, sweet Casey

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Love to see the list of people who moved near the Casey overpass or Route 203 to improve their commute or to bring people to their business.

The overpass always shows well in the real estate ads. Darn shame to lose it.

And the cemetery's going to have to reprint all their pamphlets.

Well said!

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"You keep using that word 'overpass.' I do not think it means what you think it means."

Induced demand means more

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Induced demand means more traffic and more pollution.
Do you really choose to "move close to a road" so that you can commute to it? Would you in other words choose to live next to a highway?

seriously? Take away all

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seriously? Take away all non-local traffic on the Jamaicaway (90% of it) and watch the value of the homes along it skyrocket.

McGrath is probably next

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McGrath is probably the next up. But first the state wants to spend 14 million to "fix it" until they tear it down in 5 years. (rolls eyes).

The Bawker overpass

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Definitely needs to go. Though I could see the argument for McGrath getting priority. That neighborhood in Somerville really gets shit on by cars.

Glad they decided to tear down Casey. I just wish they weren't planning to widen the road in its place. From what I remember, the extra lanes form a bulb around the intersection. So the incoming capacity will be 4 lanes, and the outgoing capacity will be 4 lanes, but there will be 6 lanes waiting at the light.

Perhaps it will work out; or perhaps motorists will start complaining about the crunch where it narrows back to 4 lanes, and begin pushing for widening of a longer stretch of Arborway. Then we may look back to this decision to go with 6 lanes as a mistake.

Six lanes

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It's much easier to turn a six lane road back into a four lane road (or a six lane road with dedicated bus lanes, or pull-off space) in the future than it is to take down a new overpass.

There's no chance that the Arborway or Morton Street will be widened to six lanes. It's just not going to happen.

Elderly advocates would start chaining themselves to trees.

It wouldn't be pretty.

Amen

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Anything that would help reconnect the Emerald Necklace, starting with that sad mess at Charlesgate would be wonderful. One of the saddest places in Boston--I can't believe that in all my years in Boston I've never seen an actual body floating in those murky pools.

I know they should have

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I know they should have bulldozed JP and the Emerald Necklace like Roxbury was for I695 and built a 12 lane highway so non-Boston residents could pass through the city even faster!

I think you are confused

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I think you are confused about the topic. I was talking about the Casey Overpass. What happened to Roxbury was a travesty along with the loss of the Orange Line. However choosing an at-grade solution will impact traffic especially the regional traffic that mainly uses the overpass. I never quite understood why people preferred a huge street to a slimmed down bridge. The last thing the New Washington intersection needs is more cars (believe me I drive it everyday). Although in a perfect world the MBTA would extend the Orange Line to Hyde Park/Westie/Rozzie.

At grade vs Overpass...

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As someone who lives south of the hill and who often spends a very long time coming up Hyde Park Avenue in the morning, I think they could make New Washington 5 lanes in each direction and it will still make my trip a bigger mess. Between school buses stopping to drop off and pick up and stopping traffic for long periods of time and Washington Street north of the hill dropping to one lane and the longer light cycles to handle the rush hour load, I guess I can kiss seeing JP center or Brookline in the AM good bye. Maybe they should widen New Washington street and build an overpass for Hyde Park avenue to Washington street instead.

Alternate route?

Have you tried other ways to get where you are going? I have frequently found that the narrower, lower traffic streets that I prefer as cycling routes serve very well as alternate routes for driving. Sure, you can't drive them very fast ... but 20 mph on a neighborhood street is faster than 0mph on a congested arterial that you think that you *should* be able to do 40mph on ...

I'm on the fence.... the

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I'm on the fence.... the overpass is a monstrosity that is a nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists, and fosters a 1950s highway mentality and increases both volume of speed and traffic along a parkway where park users are often in conflict with cars. On the other hand, I'll take the Casey Overpass over Melnea Cass Boulevard any day of the week--it is easier to cross, it takes up less space, and for all of its aesthetic flaws it is infinitely more "urban" in character than MCB. I really fear that this becomes some suburban bland boulevard, 110' wide, that forgets that the important pedestrian movement is across rather than along it. Also when it's raining and there are 30 people waiting for the 39 bus are we all going to cram in the little glorified phone booths? (Or will they build one of the ineffective Silver Bus - style shelters, the designers of which think rain falls straight down?)

I share some of your concerns

If we end up with something decidedly less urban, that is a failed result. And many elements of the plan point in that direction -- the six lanes, the large plaza, for example. But I do like what's happening with the bike lanes. Ultimately, the bridge is in many ways the only urban element that is there right now. But it is not an example of good urbanism. What is really needed is some buildings. That may be starting to happen(eg the Arobretum Place cited above).

I have absolutely no concern, though, that it will be another Melnea Cass. It is immediately superior to that for a few reasons:

  • Abuts a real rapid transit station
  • Rests at the nexus of three well used parks
  • Provides more utility for local users

I couldn't make up my mind about this, but now that a decision is made, I'm prepared to live with it and hope for the best.

Does this whole thing really even effect cyclists?

I mean, getting rid of this overpass is really only effecting the people who need to get from Mattapan and South to the Riverway points towards Fenway or West Roxbury. Going those routes would be better served going through the parks or back streets I would assume anyway right?

The cycling impact is huge

Right now, there are a number of bike routes in the area that don't quite come together (from Roslindale, JP, Southwest Corridor, and Franklin Park). The painted lanes on Washington St. disappear at Ukraine Way, and don't pick up again until after South St. crosses New Washington. The section without lanes is also a section with endemic back-ups, which makes it difficult for bikes to navigate the area. Likewise, a cyclist wishing to go from South St. or Washington St. bike lanes on to the Lalemont Path (SW Corridor) needs to merge and cross several lanes of traffic on New Washington.

The proposed design fixes all of this by adding dedicated paths from the points where the current lanes end. And even better, these paths feed directly into the SW Corridor.

Wider surface streets and

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Wider surface streets and longer red lights -- the Sullivan Square solution.