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Menino: Casey Overpass replacement will be 'second Big Dig'

The Jamaica Plain Gazette reports Hizzona hates the plan to tear down the overpass in Forest Hills, but says, hey, it's not his project, so blame the state when the work turns the neighborhood into a living hell.

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Huh, now I like the project even more!

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Keeping an anti-urban overbuilt elevated highway currently bisecting an Olmsted designed park system is "creative"? Yeah right!

King Tom is probably upset that his commute to City Hall is going to be slightly delayed during construction.

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He could always jump on a bud or take the subway!

Oh, wait...

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For the Casey Overpass to bisect the Emerald Necklace, it would have to be placed the other way (along Wash / Hyde Park).

Come visit some time; you'll see what I mean.

Your preferred solution of seven lanes of surface traffic doesn't bisect it less, but more, as it takes up more lateral space.

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Also, does it mean more of Hizzoner's buddies will be getting richer?

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If we had only ripped down the Central Artery and not replaced it with a mega-project, we would be talking about how cheap the whole ordeal was (and how modernized and well patronized the commuter rail system would have been).

But instead we get totally out of touch quotes like this:

Menino said sometimes people have to think outside the box and his vision would have the overpass being rebuilt with green space underneath it. That would connect Arnold Arboretum to the Franklin Park, creating one continuous line of green space, he said.

Do you see what I mean when I criticize "green space" folks? This is it. It's filler proposed by unimaginative, lazy, suburbanistic bureaucrats who see "green" on a map in abstract terms. And can you imagine what would happen to grass in the shadow of an overpass? What a stupid idea.

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Yeah, that was the winning quote from the article. Sure, there will be 12-foot concrete pylons jutting up every 50 yards or so, and the whole thing will be overshadowed by a hulking 4-lane bridge 50 feet up, but we'll plant grass under it! That's what y'all mean by 'green space,' right? It's space! That is green!

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It's possible to have a pleasant park under an overpass, if it's designed properly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cathedral_park_p...

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Not.

Empty and devoid of life. Like all areas beneath elevated infrastructure. Just because it isn't butt ugly doesn't mean it's attractive and an asset to the neighborhood.

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And the photo is missing the four lanes of traffic that would abutt any new Forest Hills bridge. A concrete playground next to 4 lanes of traffic with cars rumbling overhead. That's what the bridge advocates are offering.

I'm really sorry to hear the mayor supporting this. I like the guy but am wondering if he's living in the 21st century. Mayors around the country are scurrying to find funds to remove outdated urban infrastructure like the Casey. This is being handed to him and he doesn't see the potential.

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What the ground option advocates still haven't explained is why a concrete playground next to four lanes of traffic with cars rumbling overhead is worse than no playground whatsoever and seven lanes of stalled traffic idling and honking.

You want to fix that picture? Get rid of the grass, get rid of the steps, get rid of the sidewalk. Put a big wide road down there instead, one block long and bottled at both ends.

In what way is that better?

You're not tearing down the Casey Overpass in order to have less road, you're tearing it down in order to have more road. The barrier between Forest Hills and the rest of JP is getting bigger, not smaller. You have been played for suckers.

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The article said seven but I thought the agreed upon plan was six?

Anyway, I am disappointed that the community did not push MassDOT to keep it to four lanes. There is no reason for the bulbing to six lanes because it is only temporary and as you say, makes the intersection worse. It seems to me that a blind obedience to "level of service" is what led to this false choice. Perhaps there is still time to adjust things...

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Your point about the width of the surface proposal has bothered me quite a bit, too, and led me to slightly favor the bridge. However, there are some meaningful benefits to the current choice:

  • Significantly better bike infrastructure
  • Significantly less money (not always an adequate reason, but always an important consideration)
  • Better options for future development (a bridge can't be re-configured so easily)

Still, I leaned 55/45 on this. None of the proposals were very good in my opinion, but I'm prepared to work with the option we are getting.

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HI, a 2-lane bridge, smaller in stature and possibly lower than the current overpass, is what had been on the table, not a 4-lane.

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Actually, sitting in 7 ish lanes getting gassed by fumes, is not ideal. Personally I'm for the overpass.

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Time to go. Time for a new mayor and more importantly: time for a new City charter. Weaken the office of the mayor, strengthen (and perhaps enlarge) the Council. We need better checks and balances and less concentration of power at the top.

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I voted for the other guy after string after string of this sort of head scratching mumbling and old man yelling at clouds pontificating.

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Passing the buck to the state is a sign of weakness.

Policing, overpass design, liquor licensing. Grow some balls, City of Boston.

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The state should be our bitch, not vice versa. We're the ones with the hospitals, schools, and money.

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Particularly with rule-with-an-iron-fist TommyBoy still in charge.

In any case, even if the City wanted to grow said balls, it probably couldn't (and many of you probably wouldn't want it to, because one of the first things that it would do would be to levy its own income tax, just like New York City does).

Our governmental structure is significantly different than New York's. The municipalities here are not referred to as political subdivisions for the hell of it - they exist at the pleasure of the Commonwealth and can and have been eliminated by it (which is unlikely to happen nowadays, however, each time we take a drink of our exceptionally fine tap water, we can thank the residents of the now defunct towns of Dana, Prescott, Greenwich and Enfield for that water).

As Will says, Boston does have the best hospitals, and some of the best schools (at the university level - of course one of Boston's municipal neighbors might put up an example or two of some pretty good schools), but I'm not so sure that Boston proper contributes "the" money that drives the state economy. Boston proper is a big economic driver to be sure, but the old adage "as Boston goes, so goes New England" is not nearly as true as it used to be.

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The power to tax can also the power to destroy.

Considering how poorly the city already manages to spend what money it has, I don't want to give the current crop of morons in power any more. Right now the bastards are at least contained and under pressure, look at BPS and the debacle with libraries last year, to stop doing exponentially less while spending exponentially more of our money.

If the city government could easily jack up an additional income tax, all it ever would do is vote itself a pay raise every time the budget got tight. No patronage or fat would ever get cut and eventually tax weary citizens would head for the exits.

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now says he’s only the man behind the curtain?

A surprising and disappointing statement from a mayor who is ordinarily ahead of the curve and a champion of Boston’s neighborhoods. Well, he’s at the wrong end of history on this issue and, when it mattered, he failed to voice his opinion on a decision of great importance to JP. What a contrast to Mayor Curtatone in Somerville, who’s not afraid to say he wants the McGrath Highway overpass to come down. It’s not his road either, but his staff are working with MassDOT to make it happen and planning for the economic development they hope will follow. Here, our mayor shrugs his shoulders and says “not my job” and BTD and the BRA are nowhere to be found.

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at the press conference they have when the new road opens

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The deafening silence from the city during this debate was a mystery. Apparently the neighborhood is not worthy of the Mayor's attention.

The demo and construction was bound to be a mess regardless of which option the state chose. But thanks for being the Monday morning quarterback and for offering to help, Mr. Mayor.

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That's an interesting point. Traffic in Forest Hills is going to be an absolute bastard after demolition and before the new street layout is finished, but demo was going to happen anyway--there's no way they could tear down the old bridge piecemeal and keep a few lanes open at a time. What did the good mayor think was going to happen if they built another overpass?

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As someone who crosses the Jamaicaway several times a week, I think there should be many, many more stops along it-- it's too much of a freeway mindset as it is

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The Jamaicaway needs speedbumps, and by that I mean the concrete ones not the organic ones.

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I think people are looking at this the wrong way. This has nothing to do with his actual opinion of the project (who knows what that is). Its just a perfectly calculated piece of scripted political pandering. This is a project that is controvercial. By criticizing it now (years before it is complete) Menino placates those who are currently angered by the project while, at the same time, being able to do nothing about it, as it is a State level decision. Count on him to chime in every so often during construction about what a mess the renovation is causing but, again, how his hands are tied. In four years when the project is done and everyone is marveling at the new road and park space, Menino will be at the grand opening with a big smile on his face talking about his partnership with the State to pull it off. Those who supported the project all along will then be happy with him while those who opposed it will likely have been worn down, and will just be happy that the whole thing is over. People have short memories.

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"In four years when the project is done and everyone is marveling at the new road and park space...."
Isn't there a huge park right next to the overpass? Why the need to create a park next to a park? People will have time to marvel as the crawl through the forest hills intersection a 4pm. Just a hunch that many of these commenters aren't commuters.

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There are some creative options around keeping a bridge, but none of them involve greenspace, and all of them pretty much require a much more thorough build out of the surrounding area (ie the Arborway yard and air rights behind Forest Hills station).

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Some folks might know that Hizzonah lives in Hyde Park. His commute comes right up Hyde Park Ave. This project, and the resulting bollixing of local traffic, are going to screw up his commute. Do you really want him to lie and say otherwise? Is he pandering insufficiently to the advocates of the expanded New New Washington Street? What would you rather he say? "Oh, yeah, I'll be thrilled to have to drive through this mess every day for a year, as long as it's in the name of widening streets."

From an environmental perspective, he's just telling it like it is as well. Once Big Dig II is cleaned up, we'll be left with a seven-lane tundra of asphalt. All the wee half-dead trees in pots, scrubby medians, and other biological bandaids you can apply won't fix it. It's the definitive de-linking of the "Emerald Necklace."

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So they're going to take down an elevated interstate and put it in a gigantic tunnel? That's funny, I hadn't even noticed there was an interstate down there to begin with and I totally missed the part about the giant tunnel. Thanks for the info!

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I don't see how anyone can claim the current Casey Overpass "links" the Emerald Necklace and demolishing it will "de-link" it.

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I was looking at an earlier post that criticized the overpass for "bisecting" an Olmstead park. Not true, at worse it has been plopped right in the middle of the park. What the overpass bisects is 2 arteries, 2 rail lines, and a brook (buried, but there.)

One of the reason I like the overpass is that one can walk, ride a bike, or drive over the roads and whatnot (I've done all three.) No cars to dodge (until you hit the rotary, but that's an Olmsted design and thankfully will be removed,) no traffic conflicts, just smooth sailing over the roads below. Reading the article linked above, I laugh that bicycle paths seemingly dominated the meeting. You know what would help bikes- being removed from the cross streets. An overpass would do that.

Take the overpass away, its perhaps a quarter to half mile from the Arb to Franklin Park. There's the train station, courthouse, and various other business along the path. I don't see how what will replace the overpass will live up to the Jamaicaway or the like. All I see is that Franklin Park will remain a severed link in the necklace.

An example of the delinking- try crossing Route 9 on the necklace, and not using a car.

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Thank you. I entirely agree. Also, modifications can be made to the existing streets below a new bridge, which would be more aesthetically pleasing.

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The original justification for the overpass was largely the elevated Orange Line. The Green Line also used to roll through under the bridge, and the #39 still wastes that space today. There might have been a possibility of reclaiming that under-bridge real estate in a new design while maintaining an elevated bypass in a smaller size (say, one lane each way, as it effectively is now).

That cleared footprint on the ground could then have been used for green space or a more continuous connection from one park to the other. Instead, almost all the ground is being dedicated to seven lanes of traffic. It will be Arboretum - seven lane permanent traffic jam (plus a few potted annuals!)- Franklin Park. There is no longer any possibility of fixing this.

It was six of one, half dozen of the other - a bridge replacement had its problems too. But the self-appointed bicyclist representatives were suckered by eye candy in the proposal. The designers could have put the same candy in the bridge option diagrams but didn't. Local community groups have been played, and we'll likely end up with only half of the special bike lane type crap squeezed into the diagrams, as well as bollixed local traffic.

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It's easier to remove asphalt later than another overbuilt overpass.

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So if the state had chosen to build a new bridge, the bridge fairy would have waved her magic wand and your iconic bridge would have appeared overnight? No traffic diversion, no construction mess. Only birds tweeting in the trees growing below. Happy dogs frolicking in the grass.

Criticize the decision if you want, but don't blame the disruption to come on the surface option. I'd bet it would have taken longer and been messier to put up a new bridge.

How about some help with traffic management, mayor? It will make your commute easier and might help the rest of us too.

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True, there is disruption whichever option reigns, but, the at-grade option would bring years of bad traffic and congestion to many neighborhoods beyond Forest Hills.

Just hoping that 24,000 cars or more a day will magically disappear is also wishful thinking.

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It isn't wishful thinking. the 24k cars which currently take that route as a defacto limited access highway will now be more likely to seek a real limited access highway rather than wait at the new series of lights. The local traffic patterns will remain the same, if not better, while the through commuter traffic disperses to the new most direct rapid routes.

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There are no such alternative routes

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Fundamentally, holding the city hostage to 24,000 or whatever number of cars a day is insane. If all the roads around Forest Hills disappeared today, people would figure out tomorrow a different way to get around. In time, everything would adjust and get back to normal.

There are many highways that were on the planning board and went unbuilt. Somehow, the world has not come to an end.

Personally, I think they are making a mistake by widening the at-grade road. It should be kept as narrow as possible. I think that the community groups missed an opportunity here, and let the highway lobby score a victory at our expense.

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People need to get to Longwood and Fenway areas from the south and southeast and it being Boston there aren't alternatives. In case you haven't noticed, Boston does not have a grid system of streets where there are choices. Bringing all of the traffic down to grade will make it harder for those of us who use any of our three north-south options, South St., the Southwest Corridor, and Washington St., significantly slower than they are now.

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I agree. I've lived in Mattapan, Dorchester, Hyde Park for many years of my life. I also clean the streets with those large machines.
With school buses and trucks , the daily commuters and others, How is an at grade crossing with traffic lights going to solve anything?

If some " newcomers" to JP and Boston do not want an over pass for 203, Why not make 2 small tunnels or Fly-overs for south St and Hyde Park ave, eliminating at least the huge back ups on the n-s streets?

No one wanted I-95 to come through, THe traffic lights are not well timed on Hyde park ave and washington streets.There are a myriad of slow moving traffic clogging diesel buses... We all want progress, but really, more traffic lights? Why not build a limited access parkway from the sw neighborhoods to the fenway/ hospital area ?

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