Forest Hills commuter hell could end in three weeks, state officials say

Forest Hills canopy

Long-term good news for long suffering bus riders: They're getting a canopy, eventually.

State officials said tonight that the delayed Casey Overpass replacement project is just three weeks away from being fully opened to motorists.

Among the improvements for the surface-road project promised for month's end: The restoration of Washington Street in front of the upper side of the Forest Hills T station to a full four lanes. The promise came at a meeting at English High School with bitter and skeptical residents - some of whom tried to re-litigate the decision to replace the overpass with surface roads rather than another overpass.

Officials said that alone will help long suffering riders of buses coming up Washington Street - some of whom now get off at Tollgate Way and walk to the station rather than just sit through several light cycles for their buses to inch their way towards the busway.

And in good news for those long suffering riders, officials said they've found funds to add construction of a canopy over the new bus waiting areas on the upper busway - and a covered walkway from the station to the canopy-covered area.

In bad news for those riders, though, construction of the canopy will likely take another year, until next fall, officials said. In good news, the end of the Washington Street work will let the T park 39 buses near the station entrance, which will let its riders wait under what's left of the old canopy or even in the station itself. In bad news, riders of all the other bus lines will still find themselves competing for space in the tiny shelters the T threw onto the walkways - although moving the 39s near the station entrance will let the T move the other buses a little closer so at least people won't have to walk quite as far, officials said.

Officials said that in addition to opening the newly aligned and built surface roads by month's end, all of the new traffic signals from Washington Street down to the now squared Shea Circle will be tied into Boston's traffic-control center downtown, letting the city monitor conditions and make changes to signals in real time as needed. However, officials cautioned it could take several weeks in the new year to test the new connections and make sure the real-time control systems work as planned.

Officials now say the final cost of the project, now more than a year behind schedule, will be about $86 million - compared to the original estimate of about $74 million. Part of the extra cost is $10.1 million cost of the canopy. Another part of the extra cost - and a major reason for the delay - are the powerful fans needed to vent the tunnel from the main T station to the new entrance across the Arborway; they proved more difficult to procure than state planners had expected. Another holdup: Getting required permissions from the MBTA for some of the work.

Although motorists will be able to use the new roads - and pedestrians and bicyclists the new paths along the roads - work will continue for another year. In addition to the upper-busway canopy, this will include completion of the new station entrance across the Arborway, extensive landscaping and construction of a connection from one of the bike paths to the Southwest Corridor path.

Connecting the new traffic signals to the city system will also let the city begin planning for a pilot dedicated bus lane down Washington Street, Deputy BTD Commissioner Jim Gillooly said. The city wants to experiment with a reversible bus and bicycle lane, coupled with specialized traffic signals between Forest Hills and Roslindale Square to see if that could speed bus rides on the congested street.

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Comments

Wait

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They tore down the old canopy with no money to build a new one? And some people questioned my skepticism with this project (note, I did not attend this meeting, so I was not part of the relitigating of the plan).

Don’t get me wrong- I’m thrilled that the roads will be reopened in a few weeks. Of course, I am also left to wonder about the fate of the kiss & ride. Still, it’ll be good not to have to do that walk come deep winter.

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Kiss n ride

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It'll be reopening where it used to be - on Hyde Park Avenue near the main parking lot.

Sure

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But when?

(speaking of vague timetables, it is weird that the Natick Mall Wegmans opening date has gone from the weird "YEAR" to "SEASON YEAR" meaning that it might actually open within the next 6 to 9 months.)

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Apologies, I don't know

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It might be part of the month's end roadapalooza or it might have to wait until next year; I'm just not sure.

No problem

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I was half being rhetorical.

On the other hand, many thanks for the other news.

Those Things Are Creepy!

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Suppose you get a ride from a mere acquaintance, or even a complete stranger in a taxi. Passengers shouldn't be required to kiss the person who drove them to the station!

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36

I believe that is a Uber

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I believe that is a Uber specific thing. I can't say its an option because most of the time it is forced. And unwanted.

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10 million dollars for a

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10 million dollars for a passenger shelter? I wouldn't know how to design one that expensive if I wanted to. In other developed countries, that gets you a small rail system.

In other mismanagement news, the road closures this past weekend were not signed at all. Drivers heading east from the Jamaicaway to the Arborway had zero notice they were heading towards a detour and major traffic jam until it was too late. It would have been too easy to put up advance signage at the rotary.

A local business had some flyers about the bus detours and road closures. But they were only in Spanish, and the details were totally wrong due to a change of plans a few days ahead.

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You are totally correct!

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They have had variable message boards near Huntington Ave and out in Brookline near Rt 9 warning about Forest Hills construction for YEARS, but then when there is real carmageddon, they give no warning until you are mired in it.

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Seriously.

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Give me a hammer, some wood, and a million dollars and I'll come up with something.

10 million dollars for a

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10 million dollars for a passenger shelter? I wouldn't know how to design one that expensive if I wanted to.

Sure you would; it's easy:

  • 100,000 for the passenger shelter
  • 9,900,000 in inflated overhead, bribery, kickbacks, cronyism, patronage, profiteering, and graft.

Already do

The only participants who might drive do so because they have other meetings elsewhere. Everyone else takes the orange line or bikes. We are talking 10 out of 12 on the O-line or buses to Forest Hills.

Here is the problem: In case you have not noticed, the pedestrian connectivity to areas a short walk beyond the station is bizarre, incomplete, and shifts in incomprehensible ways on a daily basis. That is what I hope to avoid.

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23

Ten million dollars

For that canopy? Is it made out of gold?

At least the rendering is realistic - it still has jersey barriers all over the place.

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29

“Tiny Shelters”

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So, regardless of canopy or not, the postage stamp sized waiting area for the 34/40 busses is the final design? Why not take those medians out entirely and let a true Lord of the Flies situation boil over?

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Renderings on the cheap

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To show you what the canopy would look like, the architect took photos of the current conditions and stuck a model of the canopy on them. So in real life, the tiny shelters, Jersey barriers, etc., will be gone.

So we'll be waiting outside

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So we'll be waiting outside in the snowstorms with no canopy for another year? Forest Hills Commuters Lives Matter. F this. Just wait till the parking lot goes away to make room for housing for people who are lucky to afford it . That's happening next, remember?

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Any word on what’s happening

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Any word on what’s happening with the large parking lot run by LAZ? The parking attendant told me it would be shut down soon. Not sure if that’s this month soon or next month soon.

I looked through that and

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I looked through that and didn't find a target date to close the parking lot, the link to the proposal opened up, but a lot of the pages were blank. I think there was a download problem. Any other places I might find the date the parking lot shuts down? Thanks!

Another bit of good news

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At a similar meeting about a year ago, they showed a diagram of the bus waiting area layout. In that diagram, the bus stops were laid out similar to their old (ala 5 years ago) configuration with the 40/50 stop far away and in another lane than the 34/34E stop. I complained loudly at that meeting that the revised interim layout was so much better and they seem to have heard. The latest diagram has the 40/50 stop just behind the 34/34E stop and in the same lane. Phew!

Being a 34/40 rider, I’m

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Being a 34/40 rider, I’m wondering if what’s currently in place is temporary. I can’t, for the life of me, find helpful information on the final layout or plans. I hate the current layout.

The current layout

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is nothing like the layout shown on the posterboard at the recent event. Only time will tell whether it works in practice but I think we 34/40 riders will be reasonably happy (with the layout, that is - we could always use more frequent service).

Sorry but I neglected to take a photo of the posterboard.

Hotel Homeless

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At least they should make sure that the canopy is heated and there are adequate benches for desperate souls who seek shelter from the elements especially in the cold winter months.

Someone hates bus riders

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From 1987 to 2015 there was a very nice covered bus shelter for the upper busway at Forest Hills. So nice that I doubt the new bus shelter will provide as good coverage as the old one, but that is beside the point. The point is that there were none of the issues you bring up. The bus riders of Roslindale, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and parts further south were served well and despite my misgivings a replacement will hopefully serve them well, too.

It's a bus waiting area

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I am 100% in favor of providing shelter for homeless people, but the MBTA is a transportation agency, not a homeless shelter, not a welfare agency, and it should not be treated as such.

The light cycles are

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The light cycles are ridiculous and the City needs to straighten that out quickly. You have a left turn only lane with no signal. Busses and cars also block the intersection and the entrance/exit of the parking lot across the street.

I hope they're planning to

I hope they're planning to put bollards in front of all these canopies and covered waiting areas. Otherwise, they'll just be used as covered parking for MBTA employees while riders wait in the rain. Right now, the overhang on the front of the station on the Washington Street side is the only covered outdoor waiting area, but it's always full of employee cars parked on the sidewalk out of the rain.