Looks like Casey Overpass teardown clears last hurdle before it's put out to bid

State historic-preservation officials on Friday acknowledged there's no feasible alternative to replacing the apparently historic Shea Circle when the Casey Overpass comes tumbling down, Clayton Harper reports.

Harper attended a Friday meeting between the Mass. Historical Commission and the state highway officials anxious to replace the crumbling overpass with a series of surface roads before the thing tumbles to the ground of its own accord.

He reports the highway folks said they'd mitigate the changes required for turning the circle into a square through a series of plantings of tree, shrubs and bulbs and an "interpretive kiosk" on the history of the site. He's also posted slides from the MassDOT presentation.

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Comments

Kiosk?

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That's just silly. There are many interesting and important pieces of Boston's past which should be documented when they can't be preserved. This rotary isn't one of them. Get the project done and focus on making sure it works properly - no-one in the future will ever care about the history of a bygone rotary.

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Historical commission!

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The historical commission should have absolutely no say in transportation engineering. It's absurd.

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Well not in THIS case...

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I agree in this case, but there IS a time when they could be needed. If someone wanted to build a street through The Common, it would be OK for the historical commission to say No.

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Ya think?

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Come on. If anything this is an anti-Moses move--more human, more connected, more ped-friendly. I'm looking forward to better foot access to the cemetery and that whole area in general. And I'm all for historic preservation but I see nothing redeeming about that snarlificacious mess that is Shea Circle.

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Whoops...

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Sorry--I may have totally misinterpreted yr comment. Serves me right for multitasking.

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Ya it should

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My family lost a house on the far end of Newbury to in eminent domain in the 50's for a on-ramp. They took down the whole left side of a Historic street for an ON-RAMP.

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My Mom's uncle lived in an

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My Mom's uncle lived in an apartment building on that section of Newbury St. Always wondered what it looked like back then.

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My understanding is they were Irish Slums

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When my family was living there it was originally dirt roads. The carriage house for the wealthy was also located in that section Newbury. Though they were slums, it wasn't as bad as southie, I know at the time my Great Grand Uncle work at The Harvard Club. At the time you could say they were at the upper end of poverty, but poor nonetheless.

But then again im in my 20's, and my knowledge of the area in that era is through family photos and stories.

History and transportation don't always mix

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Unfortunately many of the most significant battles in the historic preservation movement have been about transportation projects. For example, inner-belt-type highways in other cities were often planned to be routed through parks or historic neighborhoods, often requiring destruction of national historic landmarks. One of the great victories of the movement was to require historical commission reviews of EVERY project that might adversely affect a registered historic property, or a public park. Otherwise you could conceivably see some government agency bulldozing a highway through the Back Bay, or widening Storrow Drive to turn it into an 8-lane expressway with full-height clearance to allow even the biggest U-Haul trucks.

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I cant

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Wait for the 3 years of grid-lock.

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Yeah it will be like the

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Yeah it will be like the interminable gridlock which has occurred due to the Longfellow being closed. Remember how all the roads in Boston and Cambridge used to flow freely? Yeah, me neither. (In other words, people will find alternate routes, and in a month you won't notice the difference.)

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So since (you think) the

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So since (you think) the Longfellow closure isn't causing traffic jams, that implies any road closure won't cause traffic jams? Fallacy somewhere, I fancy.

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Oh boo hoo.

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We all lived through how many years of the Big Dig--you'll survive the replacement of the bloody overpass.

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That's the problem though -

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That's the problem though - they AREN'T replacing it. They're tearing it down.
The big dig's end result was increased road capacity, not decreased, so I don't really see how you can compare them like that.

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Yes, they are replacing it

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This isn't one of those futuristic Korean things where they remove a highway and replace it with a park or river or something. That's crazy talk!

They're going to be replacing it with some surface roads much wider than now exist (New Washington will be, what, six lanes at South Street?). If anything, it'll mean more capacity, given that the current overpass is now down to just one lane in either direction.

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Lanes aren't the only factor

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Lanes aren't the only factor in capacity. Even if you add a lane in each direction, replacing a free-flow roadway with one with traffic signals reduces capacity.

And if there was previously an overpass, and there will not be one anymore, then it is not being replaced, it's being removed.

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I don't think the sky is

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I don't think the sky is going to fall.

I don't think Boston will really be gridlocked by the removal of the Casey overpass.

And the only reason I don't have a screen name is that i didn't bother registering. I'm not trying to hide, and don't see why that matters or anything, given that having a screen name is just as anonymous as being anonymous, unless of course I were to use my real name.

Though to be honest it is probably smart of me to post about things like this anonymously, given that I work as a transportation engineer for a local firm (not involved with this project, but one can never be too careful)

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Here's the problem.

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If you post anonymously we have no idea which of the above comments to attribute to you--get it? If you post as "transengineer" or "billfroms'ville" or something then it's much easier to have a sensible conversation. Noone's going to be outed here by a monosyllabic comment using a screen name.

I'll bite

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I'm less worried about East-West (or Northeast-Southwest) than North-South (see before.) Right now, traffic not using the Casey coming from the circle or the Arborway has no priority since they are coming from essentially slip roads. If that traffic gets longer green lights, then the horrendous traffic going from Roslindale/Hyde Park to Jamaica Plain will get backed up further. Even though I usually take the bus to the station, I see walking the mile from the Square becoming the quicker option. Pedestrians will go from crossing a 4 lane road that isn't really that busy to get from Forest Hills to South Street and the SWC Park to crossing a six lane major artery that links Dorchester and Mattapan with the Arborway/Jamaicaway leading to the Longwood Medical Area. in short, the 6 lane speedway that will replace the Casey will, I predict, keep the area as split as it's always been. See Columbus Ave at Jackson Square for what I think will happen.

Okay, I'm biased, and I kind of liked the overpass. It is (soon to be was) tall, majestic, a landmark in its own right. Also, recently it's where the herds started to thin in the BAA Half Marathon. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear I will be right.

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which is it - parking lot or speedway? can't be both.

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all studies showed at grade was better for north/south traffic because it eliminates one signal and that weird cycle for the 39 bus, the off-ramps, and new washington - it also allowed them to move the taxi-stand to the north side of the station - which should help with back-ups since there hopefully won't be anyone double-parked on washington.

what "certain people" were all up in arms about was that with the at-grade, east-west traffic ended up being slightly worse by a few seconds during peak traffic as opposed to the new bridge (even though both options were way better than what currently exists) - which got us all those extra lanes even though there isn't enough traffic volume through there to justify it. The best we can do now is to push the city/state to do a lane diet once they discover just how little traffic there is actually going to be through there.

my line of work sometimes involves traffic studies, and my experience over the years is that traffic engineers always over-predict just how much traffic there's going to be (partly because the federal baseline % increase has been way off over the past 10 years) - engineers typically design for worst-case scenario - so unless there's a serious issue, I think those who are skeptical are going to be pleasantly surprised when it's finished.

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Future traffic prediction in flux

The economy is now the biggest influence on traffic volume. Gas prices, somewhat less. Traffic studies done during the recession will underestimate volumes during economic growth. I've also seen bad studies (like Arlington Center project, #606885) where good or bad weather on the two days in summer when the study was done had far less traffic than usual. This produces an undersized design before construction even starts, let alone 10 or 20 years from now.

The economy is still recovering, so traffic will only get worse, until the next massive recession in another 80 years (if we are lucky). At some point companies and people may move to other states that add road capacity as needed, so there is a limit to how bad traffic can get here.

Traffic has been decreasing for a very long time

It's not because of the economy, but is in spite of it. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/01/21/dot_traffic_projections_f...

The traffic volumes projected for use on the Casey Arborway are massively inflated.

Millennials aren't driving.
http://grist.org/cities/what-we-can-learn-from-the-millennials-who-are-o...

So, exactly which generation is it that will bring all of this traffic you are predicting?

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Did you read the article?

Millenials can't afford to own a car and don't like driving so much. I attribute not liking driving to unaddressed or deliberately worsened traffic congestion problems and that driving cuts into their texting(etc) time. So, as the economy improves, the young will be able to afford cars and in most of the country, will drive. Not so much in America's largest city, NYC, but yes in the second largest city, LA, and virtually all others. NYC, Boston, Portland, Seattle, and SF are just a small number of exceptions in the country. Myopia gives the false impression that traffic won't increase as people get jobs to go to, services to deliver, and money to purchase a vehicle. Boston is neither the center of the universe nor just like everywhere in the country.

That said, accurate future traffic volumes are a more complex calculation than a straight line from a fixed percentage growth. Building for future needs is responsible given how money for a new project would take 30-60 years or more. Many roads here are still at 1930's design levels here despite all the actual traffic volume increases.

Your assumptions are inaccurate

Although I can't share all that I've heard from the automotive industry types that I know, I do know that they wouldn't buy your projections for a moment, and are planning for a much different scenario as our transportation realities shift in the coming years.

Just because people can afford to purchase cars doesn't mean that they will buy them - they are expensive to run, expensive to park, and depreciate. Young people are realizing this, just as my husband and I did in our 20s when we cut back to a single car - and just like our neighbors have done in turn as they have seen how well it works.

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Different roads- different problems

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I can't help but think that Washington Street will not be helped by a no overpass option. Therefore, I see north-south getting worse traffic wise. The Arborway is a major artery in its own rite, route 203. Right now that traffic avoids the Forest Hills area via the Casey overpass, so putting it on the surface, as part of a 6 lane roadway, cannot lead to a sylvan parkway. Again, my prediction is that the replacement road will be more like Columbus Ave at Jackson Square, but then again, I'm no transportation planner.

All I know is that it is a 20 minute walk from Forest Hills to the Square. That better not become the fastest way from A to B.

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I totally agree.

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I totally agree.

I've seen MassDOT's recent surface replacements for removed overpasses, and I don't like them one bit. Planting some bulbs and installing an interpretive kiosk won't help.

I've never had trouble walking across the narrow roads under the overpass. I usually don't even have to wait for the light.

Now I'll have to deal with wider roads, longer traffic light cycles, and more cars.

Maybe you've never heard of the term

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"bottleneck." 6 lanes merging to 2, ya that want create issues...... And yes most people are turning right and/or left not continuing straight. Add buses and the destruction they create on pavement, its going to be a shit show, a wavy pavement shit show.

Its wont change anything

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i was at the light yesterday coming from south st heading towards the sq and saw 3 cyclist run the red light.

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I can't imagine how long it

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I can't imagine how long it took BPD to clear out the wrecked cars in the intersection after that one. God, it must have been awful.

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Cyclists vs. cars

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Yeah, those bicyclists, always hitting and running on cars.

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Actually

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One almost caused an accident, she took the left on red without slowing down and looking. She forced a pickup to shift into the right lane almost hitting a small compact. So ya......

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Almost caused an accident

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Well, maybe. However, we only know this through hearsay.

On the other hand, we have how many people dead in the last year due to motorist indiscretions?

Not almost dead (although there are some of those, too), but recorded as dead.

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Luckily Boston drivers are

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Luckily Boston drivers are known worldwide as the best, safest most law abiding drivers in the land.

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HEY PISSAH!

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YOU FORGOT TO SAY WE ARE WICKED COURTEOUS!

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I see people driving 45-50 mph through there too

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let's make a deal - if all motorists drive at or below the speed limit and stay patiently behind cyclists in shared lanes, then maybe cyclists won't feel the need to jump red lights.

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Explain please?

Why do you claim a need to run red lights? Seems like cyclists are the ones most often not waiting patiently behind motorists when approaching red lights!

Speed limits are a fraud. They need to be set by engineers after speed studies, not by politicians. Everybody squeezes red lights because there are too many of them, poorly timed, and often without meeting warrant requirements. Better yet, have more overpasses so fewer lights are needed.

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Translation

I can't be expected to slow down, stop for red lights, or obey traffic laws, yet I refuse to give up my driver's license despite my extreme inability to understand that other people have rights on the road and that I have to wait my turn.

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It'll now be easier for

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It'll now be easier for cyclists, but more dangerous for pedestrians.