Historic questions delay demolition of crumbling Forest Hills overpass

The Jamaica Plain Gazette reports plans to replace the concrete-dropping Casey Overpass are on hold because the Massachusetts Historical Commission is raising questions about Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to significantly alter what turns out to be the rather historic rotary on the decrepit overpass's southern end.

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    Scenic drive

    Putting a traffic light in a scenic drive does seem problematic. Why can't they just leave the rotary alone if they are talking about maintaining the beauty of the area, which is part of their argument?

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    Yes indeed

    It would be a shame if motorists were prevented by a red light from appreciating the local scenic elements, such as the back parking lot of the T facility, the mental hospital, and the dental implant building, at the speed at which they are best enjoyed.

    The pleasant sounds native to the scenic Forest Hills Rotary Park - squealing brakes, the melodic screech and crash of metal and glass, and the mellifluous cursing of the inhabitants - would all be reduced by this dastardly plan.

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    Oh, this is nothing

    By on

    Spring Street in West Roxbury turns into Bridge Street in Dedham on a bridge that crosses the Charles. That project was held up for years (or maybe it just seemed that way to those of us who had to drive over it) because of concerns about the historic original bridge there. The state managed to save that bridge, but by encasing it in concrete, so there is no way to tell the bridge was ever even there (at least at Paul's Bridge over the Neponset, there's a marker).

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    high-speed traffic circles are bad design

    By on

    Why would someone want to preserve an early example of really bad traffic design? There's a reason why they don't do these anymore in most of the world - they're unsafe. This isn't an important piece of architecture or park or landscape - it's an example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

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    Actually, I find this

    Actually, I find this interesting. The parkway system in Boston and Cambridge must be historic, as one of the first urban "highways" in the US. While I'm not privy to what documents MHC is using to evaluate the overpass (they're public, but I can't be bothered to do the research at this moment.) Does anyone know if the Casey Overpass was included in a larger nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, or is it listed/eligible on its own?

    This post make it sound like all of a sudden MHC has thrown a wrench in MassDOT's works. MHC's involvement here is pretty standard and MassDOT should have known to expect it. MHC is required by law to look at a project's effects to resources listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places whenever public money is involved, a process called Section 106. It's likely that MHC will make a finding of "No Adverse Effect" or ask that the overpass be photographed, but will not ask for its preservation. From the JP Gazette article: "MHC has repeatedly requested design alternatives and more proof for altering the historic state parkway. The back-and-forth has already delayed the overall Casey Arborway project’s start date once." Well, sounds like there wouldn't have been a back-and-forth if MassDOT had just given MHC what it needed in the first place.

    Misleading

    By on

    This post is a bit misleading. The linked article doesn't say they don't like the plan, just that they haven't released their decision and that in the past they had asked for more information on alternatives. AKA they're slow.

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    Oh, so "controversial"...

    By on

    I just don't get this. The redesign of the overpass is always presented as this "controversy" when, as far as I can actually see, the vast majority of neighbors and people affected are in support of the new design. I know there are concerns and people who are worried about the traffic patterns but all in all it seems like the Whole Foods kerfuffle--a very, very small fraction of people against and a huge majority for it and yet it's presented as this near-even neighborhood rug of war.

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    I'd like to see an actual

    I'd like to see an actual poll on the subject. Every time it comes up around here, the pro-overpass crowd is extremely vocal about their "right" to drive as fast as possible through any neighborhood in the city.

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    I missed the meetings...

    By on

    but I do drive over the bridge regularly. To get around the rhetoric for just a moment I'd like to point out that the issue is not about how fast you can possibly get through some neighborhood, but how may people can get to their jobs in a reasonable amount of time. I wish that public transportation was a better option, then we wouldn't need as much infrastructure like this bridge, but for me at least, driving takes half the time that the 'T' does (and is much more reliable).

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    Perhaps

    Perhaps instead of having the ridiculous DCR maintained MA-203 should be MassDOT owned MA-203. Then maybe some MBTA buses could actually run on the road. The road is even wide enough that BRT could be implemented in a meaningful way, offering a circumferential route, and circumferential routes are what the MBTA is sorely lacking on.

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    I'm refering to DCR owned road

    MassDOT owns that end of 203. DCR still clings to the other end. I think the Jamaicaway and Arborway are ridiculous roads of the past. They could be more efficient and safer, for all modes, inclusive of cars as well.

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    I'll bite

    How could the J-Way be more efficient and safer?

    I'm not saying it's efficient and safe now, just asking what specifically could one do to improve it?

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    1. Enforce speed limit

    By on

    1. Enforce speed limit
    2. Change the rotaries to 4 way intersections with red lights
    3. Return the inner bypass road between Jamaica Pong and the Arboretum so pedestrians can get between safely and cars cant speed between them and then suddenly have to slow (other than rush hour, which is most of the week, this is what happens)

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    why does this bypass road even exist?

    By on

    There's no need for it - even during rush hour this has absolutely no benefit except allowing cars to drive 20-30 mph over the speed limit on a very short stretch.

    Agreed that speed needs to be enforced (or even better - physical traffic calming measures - like more crosswalks, or even raised crosswalks) - motorists might be annoyed, but it would help traffic flow better during rush hour.

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    Easy

    Just build an upper deck on the J-Way for one direction of traffic!

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    I'm a nearby resident, and I

    By on

    I'm a nearby resident, and I support keeping or replacing the overpass, to make it easier to walk across the area (especially to the T station) without crossing a very wide surface road.

    As a pedestrian, I'm not at all happy with the end result of other recent MassDOT overpass-removal projects, like Sullivan Square.

    A signalized roadway carries fewer cars per lane per hour than an overpass. So in order to maintain traffic flow, MassDOT typically gives the new surface road more lanes than the former overpass. (The Casey is doing just fine traffic-wise with one lane each way. There's no way the surface road would be that narrow.) They also give the traffic lights very long phases -- good for getting a lot of cars through per hour, but really bad if you're a pedestrian waiting to cross. These two things make the area significantly less pedestrian-friendly.

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    Sullivan Sq is not a comparisson

    Sullivan Sq was not redesigned with the removal of the overpass -- it was simply left wallowing in its filth and existing sadness. Sullivan Sq is due for an overhaul soon, however, and that will address traffic, pedestrians, transit, and aesthetics all in one design.

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    Forest Hills Station access

    By on

    Actually, the project includes the construction of a new headhouse for Forest Hills Station much closer to the South Street businesses, north of where the overpass currently runs.

    Access to Forest Hills will be vastly improved, from both north and south, after construction is finished. This is something that should have been done originally when they rebuilt the station, but better late than never, I suppose.

    Regarding the wider, 6-lane, surface road ... well, MassDOT still has many stick-in-the-mud engineers who can't get their head out of their level-of-service ass. So that's something that still needs to be fought. But it's going to be way better than a new overpass, and way easier to fix. Keeping the current overpass is not an option at all: it is beyond repair.

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    Time marches on

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    At the time the station was designed and later built in the mid-80s the Casey Overpass was not an issue, and it was also designed with the Arborway "E" streetcar in mind, though in the end the MBTA killed that beyond Heath Street Loop. In fact the casey Overpass support pylons are buried within. Those supports can be seen at track level from the Orange line platform, and they go down at least another 30 feet beyond that. Recent arrivals to that part of JP (like in the last 20 years) will have no concept of what the actual grade level used to be. That intersection at Washington and Morton under the bridge is a man-made hump in the road that didn't exist before 1983. The real grade is that of Hyde Park Ave at Tower Street.

    A "new head house" is misleading. It will not be new, rather the area on Washington Street will be rebuilt to accommodate the Rt 39 bus and re-distribute the existing bus berths that now use the Washington Street side of the building. The current employee parking lot is being eliminated.

    This will have traffic issues of its own. As of now only the Rt 38 has to cross Washington Street traffic to get into the station, but Rt 39 will be added. These extra buses trying to get into the station could cause a gridlock if the inbound lane is blocked by traffic stuck at the signals at the current bridge. Putting up signs that say "Do not block intersection" may not be enough. Indeed, that almost never works.

    One must remember that under the Washington Street upper busway is the Orange Line platform and the "yard tracks" that extend beyond that, as well as 2 tracks of the Needham Branch MBTA commuter rail, so no serious structural changes will happen. What is there will be augmented within the structural weight limitations of the foundation under it. You'll get a new awning or extension of what is there now, a driveway cut or two, and new pavement. That's it.

    Two part answer

    By on

    Well, that's partially the fault of a small but incredibly vocal minority, and partially the fault of the contemporary reporting standards of print and television. This is the same standard of fairness that brought us the global climate change "controversy" and who give anti-vaccination advocates equal time. I've mentally shunted the pro-overpass crowd into the same slot: obstructionist assholes whose minds we will never change. Unfortunately, they're apparently really good at the "obstructionist" part, so we get to look at a huge crumbling eyesore for a while longer.

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    Not quite

    I think there is a definitely a very vocal, very visible group of people who are adamantly pro overpass, like the bike store guy.

    However, I think there are many more people who are simply concerned that the traffic issues which will be caused by a street level solution are going to be much, much worse than projected. I put myself in this group. I don't use the overpass often, but do drive down Centre St to the J Way every day. I think traffic into the South Street rotary is going to be a mess for quite a while. I still believe a replacement overpass, at a much lower height would have been a better solution, but I accept that this is a done deal and can only hope that I'm wrong. It's a false equivalency to say the choices are street level replacement or crumbling eyesore.

    With a major piece of infrastructure, I don't think that only the interests of the local residents should trump what is best for the city, especially in a case where the vast majority of residents in Forrest Hills moved there after the bridge was built. This seems more like moving to the Fenway then complaining about the Red Sox traffic. A healthy vibrant city needs some options to connect the various pieces together.

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    well said - this Roslindalian agrees

    By on

    I'm not a traffic engineer, so I'm just hoping that the new plan works as advertised and bringing the strong north-south flow down to street level doesn't end up isolating the neighborhoods to the west from their main access to downtown. Between you, me and the dog, I think a lot of JPers would be just fine if it did.

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    Why would the JPers want to impede anyone's commute?

    By on

    You make it sound as if there's some underhanded NIMBYism going on when what I see is people actually having a vested interest in an important part of their neighborhood in a broader way--not just as a pass-through for traffic or as a transportation hub. That area can be better--much better, not only for drivers but for businesses, T commuters, residents, pedestrians, cyclists, visitors to the cemetery, franklin park and the arboretum. I live on a street that gets a LOT of traffic coming from this area and so many speeders that cops regularly stage very successful speed traps. I'd like to see better managed traffic but that's not because I have an evil desire to make commuters from Dorchester and Milton miserable--I just want a safer street.

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    Clarification

    My objection, I guess, is to the viewpoint that the people who live in the vicinity of the overpass have more of a right to dictate the outcome of the replacement than people who use it, because those people are just drivers from other parts of the city. It seems to be a very locals only viewpoint, especially given the long existence of this overpass. I don't see it as NIMBY so much as an 'I don't care about impacts to the city beyond my neighborhood' attitude. We're not talking about knocking down a neighborhood to put in an expressway here, just fixing the existing, failing infrastructure.

    If the at grade solution is a bottle neck, then traffic will simply start moving through all the other ways through JP, whether it's Centre St or Green St or Eglestone Sq. There's going to be more commuters on the side streets, not less I suspect. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

    Can a pro-street level person explain the solution to this problem? Currently, you can drive from the South St. Rotary to the 'historic' one without stopping. With the at grade solution, this car will have to stop I would assume at least one light and that light will have to be long enough to give pedestrians enough time to cross the new wider street (six lanes instead of four, right?) This longer stop is going to reverberate through the traffic flow into the rotaries, jamming the other roads in and out of the rotaries as well as South St., Washington St. and Hyde Park Ave.

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    Business will die

    By on

    History will repeat itself.

    When the current station was built in the mid-80s and the roadways re-configured (yes... this is not the first time...) the businesses on Hyde Park Ave rolled up the sidewalk and for a long time many of the store fronts were boarded up. Reason... construction prevented people from gaining easy access.

    The concept of people walking or cycling is a great idea but should be something that is personally embraced. Imposing it on others is not acceptable. especially given populations that cannot cycle or walk due to physical impairment or age. It is a great philosophical vision but not one easily implemented on current society.

    Of course if any of these people want to ride me on their handle bars let me know. PS - I don't own a car.

    Construction and the aftermath will see many delays in buses just getting into and out of the station - same as happened in the 80s when the current station was built. It was a traffic bottleneck before and continued to be afterward. Anyone that has lived here long enough can tell you that. Newbies cannot possibly see or fathom that, but worse, they refuse to accept the testimonials of those who have gone before.

    Unfortunate for many, while the immediate neighborhood has taken steps to improve their vision of their immediate neighborhood, few communities outside of that were truly engaged in the project, and had no opportunity to really understand what all of this meant and why they should attend planning meetings. Elected officials did their best.

    MassDOT has a reputation of foisting their plans on people regardless of what residents want. Ask any neighborhood activist in Mattapan about the "28X" bus project. In the end however, the people did kill that plan. The T spending ARRA funds on the articulated buses for the 28X busway (think of a streetcar reservation with Silver line buses - diesel not electric) that never happened is yet to be resolved.

    MassDOT frequently scheduled meetings in odd places and gave little notice of dates, and used times when fewer people could attend. They are to be held at a 10-foot pole distance and held in strict scrutiny.

    there's no E in plain.

    By on

    this makes absolutely no sense - it would be JAPL - or pronounced "japple" I'm from the japple. or JAPN - or I live in the japan.

    I don't think the at grade

    I don't think the at grade road system will efficiently carry all expected vehicles as the State claims. More likely, a lot of the commuters traveling thru will avoid the new roads all together, the result being much of the traffic mess will just be shifted elsewhere, probably the smaller neighborhood roads. Glad I don't live there.

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    Obviously you don't live there.

    By on

    How exactly can you cut through smaller neighborhood roads in that area? I think all of us would like to know.

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    If you lived through the last mess...

    By on

    If you lived through the last mess when the current MBTA station was built, you would likely not make that statement.

    Maybe not right there in JP (not JAPL) or better-stated "Forest Hills."

    Example - When Washington Street or Hyde park Ave gets backed up, people will use Florence Street to try to see if the other road is any better. It won't be of course but people will try anyway to get around the blockage. When that happened in the 80s when the current station was built, those who did not know the roads got an education as they went down street after street, some one-way, and some dead ends, trying to find a way out. Cars were clipped and dented and some people were struck. I lost track of how many people asked me how to get out of the area.

    I avoided the construction area completely.

    I went up over Centre Street to the J-Way skipping Forest Hills as did many. If I wanted Dorchester I went Cummins to Legion as did many.

    People on buses won't have a choice. Bring a sandwich and bottle of water

    You assume people using side streets will actually know them. They won't. The side streets will be populated with people who don't know where they are going and who are looking for a shortcut around the traffic jam.

    One way streets? Really? Watch. People will be going the wrong way all over trying to sneak through, and the police don't have enough people to watch every street for that. Same thing happened in the 80s. Unfortunately, a lot of them no longer live there. They bailed.

    Draw a 1/2 mile circle around Forest Hills on a map. All of those streets will be impacted.

    Been there, done that.

    3 reasons why you're wrong

    By on
    1. They thought about bus access. It's all being reconfigured for the at-grade solution and made better. Same goes for station access by foot.
    2. Construction will be a problem no matter which solution they picked. The current overpass is beyond repair.
    3. The example you are citing was a traffic "nightmare" WITH THE OVERPASS IN PLACE! So much for that.

    MassDOT did plenty of community outreach. The community wants the overpass gone. The bridge dead-enders are in the minority. Get over it. This is not the 1980s, and thankfully, it will never be again!

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    Reasons why Shea Circle should go

    The Shea Circle rotary was constructed long after the most significant historical period of Boston parkway creation. It destroyed some of the Olmsted-era routes that served as the southern entrance to Franklin Park. When the Casey Overpass was built in the 1950s, all hope of safe and sensible recreational connections between the Arboretum and Franklin Park for pedestrians and cyclists was gone. Because of it's large diameter, lack of lane markers or traffic lights serving any kind of traffic calming function - not to mention enforcement of speed limits - Shea Circle has one of the highest rates of car crashes in the state. MassDOT's plan for it - derived with ample community input and after studying many options - calls for slicing up the marooned island of land in the center and reconnecting the pieces to the surrounding parks and civic areas while creating a signalized intersection that provides safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists and improved safety for motor vehicles. Significanly, their plan calls for the creation of a fine looking parklet to the south near existing housing. And it's overall net effect is to enhance the public's access throughout the historically important southern reaches of the Emerald Necklace. To me those public safety issues coupled with enhanced accesss trump the preservation of a rotary that is somehow on the National Registry of Historic Places (hence MHC's oversight).
    http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-casey-arborway-annotated...

    The Casey Overpass was built to span three rail lines that no longer exist as surface-level impediments to car traffic: the old elevated Orange line, the South Street trolley turnaround to the Arborway Yard, and the elevated heavy rail line to Providence. The trolleys are long gone and the other two rail lines were sunk below grade in the Southwest Corridor trench more than twenty years ago. Now it is the bridge itself, with its abutments, piers, and ramps that impedes rational and easy routes for motor vehicles throughout the area. The Casey Arborway Project is designed to address all that.

    The construction period will surely be no picnic for abutting neighbors (like me) or commuters who regularly use the Overpass, but the important thing to keep in mind is that with the bridge gone and that footprint freed-up the vehicle routes for all can be improved. MassDOT's plans, based on peer-reviewed data and formulated with plenty of citizen oversight and local knowledge, call for other very significant enhancements to the area. In addition to a tree-lined boulevard where a crumbling and unnecessary bridge now stands, there will be a new plaza with direct T-platform access at the end of Southwest Corridor Park, a renovated plaza on the Station side of the Arborway, improved access to the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum, dedicated bike and pedestrian pathways throughout, a newly expanded upper bus bay at the Station, the parklet south of Shea, and better recreational access to Franklin Park.

    The MassDOT plans deserve and have the community's support. And they certainly deserve the Mass Historical Commision's support so that we can gird ourselves for the construction period, enhance and reconnect this broken portion of the Emerald Necklace and get on with the important work of healing the community from the lengthy and devisive process that got us to this point.

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    Thank you

    By on

    Your posts are always informative and helpful and unlike most of us amateur blatherers, you seem to know what you're talking about.

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    Thanks but

    I'm just an informed amateur blatherer who attended many of the meetings and read through all the material made available. Then I studied the deeper history trying to understand the divergent opinion within the community. That effort didn't achieve the desired goal... but I sure learned a lot.

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    Well maybe

    By on

    Shea Circle has one of the highest rates of car crashes in the state. MassDOT's plan for it - derived with ample community input and after studying many options

    That has nothing to do with the design of the circle. It is due to morons who fail to respect the traffic laws of who has the right of way in a rotary. Same thing happens at J-Way and Centre. That one is scary.

    The other day I was crossing a main street near a school. The crossing guard asked this kindly senior citizen if he wanted to cross. I said "sure" and she walked into traffic with her big-ass red stop sign and reflective vest and stopped all traffic.

    Except of course the the blatant idiot who whizzed up behind me. When we yelled stop, he said he didn't need to stop because the crosswalk guard was only allowed to cross children - not regular people! Mind you, regardless of any of this, both of us were already standing in a crosswalk halfway across with traffic stopped on the other side.

    So the circle has a lot of accidents? Sure thing, but don't blame the circle of dirt in the ground. That is not the moving part causing the accidents. The accidents are caused by living, breathing, breeding human beings who are allowed to vote as well, and who likely got their drivers printed up at Staples.

    Of course, there are people who insist that the trees on the J-Way actually jump out in front of cars to cause the accidents. Based on MassDOt statistics, there may be some credence to that one.

    So...

    By on

    because people are idiots we shouldn't try to redesign roads that have high accident rates?

    I honestly don't think the

    I honestly don't think the State listened to the pro at grade people more than the pro overpass folks. I think it came down to choosing the cheaper alternative.

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    Cheaper is better

    By on

    Yup.

    And if the design fails, they will blame it on the neighborhood groups. What people fail to grasp is that teh no-bridge option was their plan all along. The public meetings are required by maw but that does not mean that they have to listen to it and do something different.

    Same is true for many federal agencies as well.

    bridge was built to avoid trolley traffic

    By on

    Which doesn't exist any more (and also to span the southwest expressway, also not built). The overpass currently only has one lane of slow-moving traffic in either direction. The current volume of traffic in the area really does not justify building a new overpass. The signalling for the on/off ramps for the overpass are actually a major cause of current backups for north/south traffic along the Forest Hills station.

    Traffic won't be any worse, and will likely improve at the rotary you mentioned, as the current plan slightly "calms" east/west traffic during peak hours.

    FYI - there's a movement to get away from using "level of service" projections for urban arterial roadways because it only measures speed of a certain volume of motor vehicle traffic, and completely neglects needs of other users - Forest Hills is a major transit hub and has a high number of pedestrians and cyclists (total number of non-car users far exceeds current motor vehicle traffic, btw). if you are truly concerned about traffic, you should not want any increase in L.O.S. at Forest Hills because this would just induce demand and eventually make traffic worse. If you want better traffic flow, you'd want more people to use "alternative" forms of transportation. (as an aside - we do know that providing physical traffic calming measures helps traffic flow better - for example neck-downs, raised intersections, and even bike infrastructure - it's about keeping a steady rate across the entire system - and in urban areas this peaks at around 15-20 mph).

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    that's the way the cookie crumbles

    By on

    this stinks to high heaven of somebody's efforts to hold up progress. and for what? here's a theory: somebody's trying to get their papers together to bid on the construction bill. this is a textbook example of bureaucracy getting in the way of doing what it's supposed to be doing! or is this just an emerging practice of bureaucracy's true form? fix the damn bridge and get on with the other n number of bridges in the commonwealth suffering the same fate.

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    Timeline for Funds?

    I ask this because I honestly don't know - are the funds that would be used for this work tied up in the monies that run out in 2016 or whatever it is? I should know more about this, but don't. I didn't know if this whole thing was being stalled so that it missed the window of available money.

    Personally, I'm pro at-grade crossing and wonder who is going to take responsibility if there's a failure at the current structure.

    I'm also pro saving things that a lot of people could probably do without, but that's another topic.

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    Accelerated Bridge Funds

    At the last Design Advisory Group meeting for the project on 11/19, MassDOT estimated the cost of the project to be $59 million. A large portion of that (they said $39 million, I think) is to come from Accelerated Bridge Program funds which, I believe, must be used by September 30th, 2016. But a sizable chunk of the monies (they said $20 million as I recall) are to come from the Commonwealth's new Way Forward Bond. This project is one of the last ones to go to bid under the Accelerated Bridge Program.

    DCR to blame, as usual

    They can't keep swimming pools clean enough to see dead bodies, so why let them manage vital roadways?

    Back in the mid-2000's they got most parkway roads they control registered as National Historic Places in order to prevent any sort of expansion, safety improvements, or changes. Well, thank you very much for this, assholes. The state really needed to take over all DCR's roads and bridges decades ago, but then what would the MDC police have to do?

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    Well shut my mouth

    I agree with Markk. The DCR should have been dismantled decades ago. Their quote-maintenance-unquote of our parkway system is a disgrace.

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    On replacing the Casey Overpass

    By on

    I live in Roslindale off Hyde Park Ave., 2 blocks south of Jamaica Plain, went to as many public meetings as I could during the first part of the process, and served on the Design Advisory Group for the second part (missing no meetings!). As a person who passes north-south through Forest Hills twice a day at a variety of times, I've been observing the current backed up traffic for years. A major redesign *could* have improved connections between Roslindale and Jamaica Plain south of Forest Hills and the JP. business district north of Forest Hills, but the at-grade option actually makes such travel worse, based on the numbers in the traffic models I've looked at over the past two years. North-south traffic delays which are already a problem will be increased to accommodate the cross-traffic on the Arborway. Not many people seem to know that it will be impossible to get on foot between South St. and the Arboretum across the Arborway in less than two light cycles because of the short walk time needed to deal with the amount of traffic that has to be accommodated without the bridge. I have talked a lot with my J.P. neighbors south of the Arborway , and there are *very* few who think that the at-grade option is better than rebuilding some sort of bridge. It is fairly clear from an increasing amount of evidence that the state *never* intended to replace the current under-maintained bridge because they didn't feel they could maintain a new one. The co-option of the greenspace and bicycle communities was convenient to that end. Most people who haven't attended the smaller meetings don't know that the pot of money which looks like it will pay for the new bike and pedestrian accommodations didn't exist when we were promised that those things would be covered by the bridge funding which really only covers a bit more than half of the project. Shea Circle has lots of problems, but the fairly simplistic solution provided by MassDOT by no means solves all of them, and makes what really is a green place, when the trees have leaves, a massive block of pavement.

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    ???

    By on

    unless we're looking at completely different reports - the projections for both schemes (even on the independent review) show an improvement in north/south traffic over what is currently existing. The issue was that east/west traffic projections showed a slightly lower "LOS" during peak times with at-grade (less than a minute) than with the bridge, but not great enough to justify the added expense of building a bridge.

    The only reason we have 6 lanes heading east/west is because there were "certain people" who complained that traffic would get much worse - and now those complaining about traffic are the same ones complaining about the extra-wide roadway that you supposedly can't walk across. There was absolutely no reason to have 6 lanes for a volume of cars that could easily be accommodated in 4. Everyone is making this out to be some major highway, but the actual east/west traffic is, what, around 24,000 vehicle trips per day? for frame of reference, the amount of traffic a 2-lane road with turn-lanes can handle is 20,000 without experiencing significant congestion.

    I'm certain that this will be a candidate for a "lane diet" in the near future.

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    *Impossible* on foot??

    There will be a westerly sidewalk along the northern edge of the Casey Arborway from South Street to directly opposite the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum on the western/Arboretum end of this project. The new crosswalk across the Arborway there will have a pedestrian-activated light. It's more direct access from South Street than exists now.

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    We hope

    By on

    Presumes that impatient motorists will honor the light and cross walk.

    I recommend a flack jacket, as well as knee and shoulder pads just in case.

    It is also presumed that the timer will give people enough time to get across.

    I am personally aware of at least one pedestrian activated signal on Washington Street that gives you just enough time to start across, then it gives the side street the OK to go, often catching people dead-center in the cross walk.

    When I complained, I was told the traffic department purposefully timed it that way to reduce potential traffic delays. The presumption is that the motorist will honor people in the cross walk and wait. They don't.

    The pedestrian gets a walk signal, but while they still have the walk signal the side street gets a green to proceed. The signals are in conflict and that by design and on purpose.

    Needless to say if you don't step off as soon as you get the go-ahead and hustle, you may get clipped, get honked at, or even have a car whiz in front of you while dead-center in the cross walk with a driver yelling at you that they had a green light.

    I have to admit, this is an outstanding piece of genius by people paid 5-digits to figure these things out.

    The cross walk and pedestrian light is predicated on an expectation that all humans will honor the traffic laws and rules of the road and yield right of way to a person in the cross walk.

    Sorry, personal experience says different.

    So elsewhere there was a complaint that the rotary had a lot of accidents. Someone needs to start a chart on this pedestrian light and cross walk for the Arbs.

    Let's be careful out there.

    The problem is speeding

    By on

    Needless to say if you don't step off as soon as you get the go-ahead and hustle, you may get clipped, get honked at, or even have a car whiz in front of you while dead-center in the cross walk with a driver yelling at you that they had a green light.

    This is a problem caused by speed. The solution is slowing down the rate at which people drive. There's no way around that.

    Here Here

    By on

    I live 1 mile south of the Hills. Lived through Forest Hills as a bottle neck for 60-plus years, and two MBTA stations.

    I have to agree with you. The visionaries will disagree but few if any (none? have lived here long enough to understand the long-term dynamics, and personal histories are all but non-existent in this process.

    Sadly, few of the people who lived through the building of the current MBTA station in the 80s, the utility re-locations, and road rebuilds still live in the area. It has been greatly gentrified. How many remember when Walk Hill Street was temporarily connected to Washington Street across where the RR tracks are now during construction? Many people moved out before, during, and after the station was built due to the inconvenience the construction caused. It really didn't settle down till 2 years after the station was opened. Anyone who came in after the station was built won't have any frame of reference for how it as before.

    What few understand, is that even with the Casey Overpass fully functional with 4 lanes (2 in each direction), Forest Hills always was a bottleneck. The overpass was built to get around that bottleneck at a time when there were far less cars on the road, not just to get up and over streetcars and the Orange Line which was then on an elevated steel structure like one sees in NYC or Chicago. That's why it is up so high - it had to get over "the El." There are plenty of historical pix on the net for that to be seen.

    This construction project will be worse, sad to say.

    The at-grade solution will be adding traffic to an already-congested area, eliminating a bridge that was designed to alleviate some of that traffic well over 50-years ago when there were less autos on the road.

    The concept that more people will use bikes, walk, or use public transit is a vision not easily realized and it is a vision held by a small minority, Mind you, I don't have a car and use public transit, which will be impacted by the traffic delays just trying to get into and out of the station.

    It seems few of the people who attended these meetings ever experienced Washington Street south of the station during morning and evening rush hours. It is frequently backed up due to rush hour traffic, school buses, and all that goes with it. This will grind to a standstill once construction starts, and likely linger well after. School kids will be late, and people won't get to work, and all the community meetings seeking mitigation will begin which will delay the construction itself. Costs will then go up. Read: Big Dig.

    When the current MBTA station was being built in the 80s the rush hour back-ups on Hyde Park Ave extended back beyond Patten Street (still do on some mornings), and back to Southbourne on bad weather days.

    Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

    History lessons and crystal balls

    Though my crystal ball of what the future may look like after the construction period is over may be no better than anyone else's, I've collected what I've learned about the history of the Casey before my time in the neighborhood here:
    http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-history-of-casey-overpass....
    and here:
    http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2013/09/under-overpass.html

    Regarding the new Head House above - not to be confused with the extended upper busway alongside the existing station - MassDOT's preliminary design for the new T platform access at the end of SW Corridor Park is here:
    http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2013/09/new-mbta-headhouse-means-man...

    The existing station clock tower is shown in the background. MassDOT and the MBTA have said that the roof line of this new facility has changed since these drawings were first shwon, but current drawings have not been provided to my knowledge as yet.

    Head/house

    I am wondering how many people will treat it as a head and how many as a house.