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Casey Overpass shutdown begins for real this weekend; motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists will all have to adapt

Casey Overpass replacement map

Dark lines show pedestrian routes: Note absence of sidewalk on T-stop side of street.

State officials said tonight the Casey Overpass demolition begins in earnest this weekend, when crews shut off the side heading towards Jamaica Pond and begin diverting traffic onto the new temporary surface road they've built.

Next weekend, the other side of the overpass, towards Morton Street, will be shut, which will be followed by seven to eight months of demolition of the aging hulk of a bridge, followed by more than a year of construction of new permanent surface roads and bike paths. The project will also include turning Shea Circle into a signalized intersection.

At a construction-update meeting at English High School, officials acknowledged that Mother's Day weekend is one of the busiest of the year at the neighboring Arnold Arboretum, but said arboretum officials expressed no concern about the changes - which were delayed earlier this year by all our snow.

Most of the immediate changes that people who travel around the overpass will see once both sides of the overpass are shut will happen along the side where Washington Street turns into South Street as it crosses New Washington Street.

Crews will block off the sidewalk on the train-station side of the road - pedestrians who want to walk from the T up South Street will first have to cross the street.

Motorists will no longer be able to turn left onto South Street from the Arborway. And as they head towards what used to be the overpass from the Jamaicaway, they'll have to decide between a right lane, which will put them onto Washington Street and a left lane, which will carry them along the new temporary road to Shea Circle.

Bicyclists trying to head into Roslindale from the Southwest Corridor or Franklin Park will have to cross South Street, then follow the bike lane south.

All of this could have been dealt with in roughly 15 minutes. As with past such construction-update meetings, however, the people who want the overpass replaced with another overpass - or just left as the existing overpass - attempted to turn the session into a rally for their side, complete with signs, exhortations by one speaker after another and attempts to shout down and ridicule anybody who actually thought the project is a good idea.

Jeff Ferris, the leader of Bridge Forest Hills, accused state officials of trying to hide costs when they acknowledged the $71 million price tag for the overpass work does not include another $10 million worth of work at the Forest Hills T station, which will include new berth areas for the 39 bus and school buses and improvements to make the station more accessible to the disabled.

Ferris said state officials should be proud of their project, if they really believe in it. "Where's the pride?!?" he yelled. "Where's the pride?!?" State officials asked him to let somebody else speak before he could start yelling "Attica! Attica!"

City Councilor Charles Yancey rose to announce the City Council will hold a hearing on the overpass project - long after state officials announced their final plans for dealing with the fact the bridge is falling apart. While Yancey emphasized he does not necessarily believe people in ambulances heading to the medical area from Mattapan and Dorchester will die in traffic, he feels it's a question worth exploring - and that he will demand answers from city emergency-services and traffic officials.

Other pro-bridge people demanded state officials alter the electronic signboards that now alert people as far away as Dedham about the Casey "work," because it's not "work," it's a complete "demolition" and motorists should know that - and be told electronically that the work will take two years and that the overpass will be gone forever. One woman even figured out how to say all that in the limited number of characters allowed on a flashing signboard.

State highway officials said they'd take a look at that but cautioned they probably won't tinker with statewide guidelines for how to alert motorists to work zones they might soon drive into - and that the average motorist is not going to care how long the project will take, only that they're about to head into it.

A Mattapan resident said she was upset to learn about the project so late in the game and said state officials still are not doing enough to notify residents of areas such as Mattapan and Dorchester about the project.

Ferris waved a copy of the legal notice for tonight's meeting in the Bay State Banner and showed it to a young woman in the audience, asking her "Can you read this?"

Unfortunately for Ferris, she answered "yes."

Unlike at some past meetings, a number of people did rise to support the project, saying they can't wait for the new bike paths, sidewalks and parkland its completion will bring.

But they sometimes had to make themselves heard over the boos and harrumphs of the anti-bridge crowd. When Pete Stidman, president of the pro-surface Boston Cyclists Union, said he had lived in JP for eight years, one woman yelled "Dude, take your eight years and go somewhere else! We've been here 30 years!"

Pro-bridge people in Jamaica Plain
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Classic cultural clash of townies and gowns. Rebuild the bridge.

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Not here -- no college is anywhere near this location.

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How is that remotely true? I haven't observed even a shred of that in any discussion of meeting about this topic. And sorry, but I wouldn't consider any of the JP pro-bridge folks from Jeff Ferris on down "townies" in any sense of the word--they seem to be your random educated, middle-aged professional, Patagonia-wearing JP gadflies who've whipped themselves into a frenzy over a project that they have no sensible reason for opposing. This is not Robert Moses--in fact it's the opposite. If this were the 1950s, they'd probably be shouting and holding signs opposing the construction of the flyover. As it is, their stated rationales have become more and more outlandish and their behavior at these meetings is just shameful.

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n/t

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When this is all over and the results are in, I suspect they'll look just as foolish as those who opposed the Whole Foods and the housing on South Huntington Ave. The overpass is coming down, a new one is not going to be built. They need to accept that.

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And the results will speak for themselves, whatever happens.

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Is it in the direct way of demolition? I suspect people will start walking in the right traffic lane rather than cross the street.

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because pedestrians don't matter... that's why they're tearing down the overpass.

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I live less than a 1/2 mile from the overpass, run, bike and drive. I am happy this is coming down.

I still don't know why people are freaking out about adding 2 lanes of traffic to reconfigured surface streets that will allow for better all around traffic flow, while we all gain a significant amount of green space, better walking paths, more trees (yes there will be about 30 more trees planted to replace those that had to be cut) and better overall cycling access.

The sky is not falling.

The bridge is.

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The cut trees are being replaced in a roughly 2-to-1 ratio: 560 new ones from 60 different species.

1.5 more acres of greenspace, 3.1 miles of off-street bike paths separated from 3 miles of new pedestrian sidewalks.

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Hello anon with a different kind of anon name. Keeping traffic and pollution up and away from where people walk is a good thing. As someone who walks everywhere in the city, it makes a big difference, especially during the summer months when the heat and humidity make polluted air more difficult to breathe.

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Keeping traffic and pollution up and away from where people walk is a good thing.

Except it doesn't work that way given Boston's shifting winds and inversions and other near scale conditions. Pollution has to go somewhere, elevation doesn't much matter when air currants and relative densities of pollutants come into play.

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height makes no difference unless you're several hundred feet in the air - and even then you're just spreading the pollution further out. The only way to reduce surface-level pollution is to switch to electric or reduce number of vehicles on the road.

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Yes, 30 trees, but not mature trees. That will take decades.

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And that's why every single pedestrian advocacy group in Boston is behind the at-street-level plan...because pedestrians don't matter.

Have you ever walked around Forest Hills? Tried to walk, say with someone in a wheelchair or a child in a stroller from Forest Hills to the Arboretum or the FH Cemetery? It is not fun. It does not feel safe or welcoming or efficient. This line of argument just makes no sense.

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That's not hard at all. Go to the far end of the busway, then cross the street at the pedestrian light to an entrance. Or, go to the set of lights where the buses leave and cross at the lights there, leading you to a sidewalk going to another entrance. Mind you, the hill for that route would be a pain with a wheelchair (not so much with a stroller and average upper body strength,) but I don't think the plan for the replacement of the Casey Overpass is to either lower that grade or raise the entire Forest Hills area up to smooth the hill.

As for the cemetery, easy peasy. Just cross that part of Washington Street that people think is Hyde Park Ave at the lights at the entrance to the lower busway and follow Morton Street. I've been up behind the Court House with the stroller, and I've run it enough times to say the grade is not that bad.

The groups are on board because they were sold a bill of goods. In the end, going from the Arboretum to Forest Hills Cemetery will be that much tougher, as now walkers will have 2 intersections to deal with that they use to walk over. That the claim was made that somehow getting rid of the option of avoiding walking through that area is somehow making it better for pedestrians is one of the reasons I don't trust this project.

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Which goes to show that that's OK--I know we agree on a lot of other stuff! I've just looked at the plans enough to think that this is going to be a huge improvement both logistically and in...well, I don't know how else to say it--mood? Visuals? I am just SO psyched not to have that bridge there, to open up and clarify the connections--like "oh, to get from X to Y I go here!" I visited the area for years when I lived elsewhere and always found it confusing. And now having lived here for many years, I still find it a terribly designed area to get around on car, foot, or bike.

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A much better way is to just walk up Tower Street to the, umm, dead end, where there's a gate leading into the cemetery.

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My trips are usually to Arborway Gardens or Franklin Park (which although I have been told the better way in, is the truly awful walking trip from Forest Hills.)

I should get over to the cemetery more. My sad admission is that I've only driven there except for a weird run that took me to Franklin Park, Forest Hills Cemetery, then St. Michael's Cemetery with a side trip to what was going to be Tom Menino's grave.

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I love the cemetery. I don't go that often but every time I do I'm knocked out by how beautiful it is. I miss the events that they used to hold there--Day of the Dead and the Lantern Festival--hope they find a way to bring those back.

And yes--I'm thinking of Franklin Park too. Shea Circle is not friendly either to pedestrians or bikes--or drivers either!--I'm really looking forward to seeing improvements there that will bring more people from the T and the bike path.

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The Arborway between South Street and the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum will in fact have a grade change that more gently lowers the main flow from the Arboretum than the current ramps. The sidewalk along the wall of the State Lab to the Arboretum will be replaced by both a new sidewalk and an off-street bike path separated by a line of London Plane trees on both sides of the Arborway and a row of American Elms in a new grassy central median. I believe the grade of the Arboretum-side path lowers a bit too.

Those lansdcaped off-street bike and pedestrians paths continue on both sides of the new Arborway - separated from each other much like they are in SW Corridor Park - all the way to the Cemetery and Franklin Park with dedicated crosswalks for each mode at every intersection including the new Shea Square, where pedestrains and cyclists will be able to cross safely for the first time since the 1930s.

Practically no one walks or rides bikes across the Overpass as a regular conveyance - either now or in the 15 years I've lived a half a block away. If you'd like to, you'd best hurry: the sidewalk closes for good a week from Saturday.

Be as skeptical as you like (not that it'll do you any good), but quit talking smack!

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Mind you, I have no reason now other than the annual BAA Half Marathon, and you better believe I savored the view last October. But there was once I time when I worked in Franklin Park and took the long way home over the Overpass.

So, since they are raising up South Street, won't that mean a hill for the people coming from JP center to Forest Hills?

I will say this about the recent gripers, this project grows and grows with each thing added. They are actually going to go around changing the contours of the area?

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The re-grading lowers the Arborway between the Arboretum and South Street where the current western abutment is. It doesn't raise South Street.

The project hasn't grown anything since the Shea Square proposal was finally approved by the Mass Historical Commission - unless you mean the handicap-compliant ramp on the NE corner of the station plaza. Many of the features of this project as designed were asked for by the community and abutting neighbors during the design process - it's not some sort of nefarious padding.

The Asticou neighborhood asked for and received landscaped screening and bus headlight deflection for the Upper busway. Mass Historical wanted a history kiosk near Shea as part of their demanded mitigation. Hampstead Road neighbors wanted a retaining wall to shield sound and then plantings to soften the look so boom: 100 climbing hydrangeas... each in turn improves the neighborhood and the community benefit.

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There is a total mission creep with this project. You read my chargin when the trees by Ukraine Way were chopped down. And yes, there is an explanation that ends with the area hopefully being nicer (though, in my mind, chocked full of traffic.) Shea Square is the most sensible part of the mission creep, since my view is that the circle is the only thing that makes access from Forest Hills Station to Franklin Park difficult.

But back to the regrading (which I see as integral to the controversial part of the project.) That slope ends at an entrance to the Arboretum, and it is a steady, though steep, slope (I run up it, so I feel the slope.) The only way to make that slope gentler for pedestrians would be to reconstruct that entire entrance. I suppose if you rebuilt perhaps 500 feet from the start of the overpass it would create a gentler path, but again, the Arboretum entrance is right there.

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I don't know how much the sidewalk grade is changing (if at all) I just know for sure that there will be about a 3'-4' grade differential between the Arborway frontage road and the actual Arborway in front of Hampstead Rd - that's one of the reasons the existing retaining wall on the westbound ramp will be extended towards South Street until past the last house.

The head house isn't really 'mission creep' - the existing exit-only headhouse is a) nasty and b) substandard and non handicapped compliant. It needed to be replaced anyway. As I understood it from the way the MBTA fellow explained it to Jeff Ferris last night, (and I could easily garble this) the Mass Architectural Acccess Board rules get triggered if rehabilitation work around an MBTA station exceeds more than X percent of the original cost of that facility. I *think* he said the percentage was quite low (3% -5% is my recollection), and since it is tied to the easily reached *original* costs the law has lead to access improvements at MBTA facilities all around the region that benefit not only wheelchair users but stroller users, folks who don't handle stairs well, etc.

I've still never seen any mention of this "new bus waiting area" that your driver spoke about a few weeks back. Do you know whether he means "for drivers", "for passengers", or perhaps "a staging area for the buses themselves"? Maybe he just meant the upper busway itself?

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I went to google street view, and yes, there is a decent length of flat ground between the Arboretum entrance and the slope to South/Washington, so the grading shouldn't be that bad.

I am still trying to figure out how rebuilding a street entails renovations to Forest Hills Station. Yes, it is nasty, and yes, it is exit only, and I suppose the fact that it is not compliant with the current ADA standards should be mentioned, but this is a road project.

As far as the bus area goes, the driver basically works runs going south/west from Forest Hills (which is cool, as he grew up in the area) and is saying the roof is going to be taken down. Everything I've heard points to the buses being further away from the station entrance, which again is for a road project on the other side of the station.

I liked your use of the phrase "slipperly slope." Well played.

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The new bus area is because the 39 will need to use the same general bus-pick up area as the rest of them (since obviously it won't be able to drop people off literally under a nasty underpass like it does now). There's no way those articulated things are getting through the bus exit as it is, and there's really not enough road room in the current set up for the busses we have, let alone adding the 39, so yeah, the whole area is getting expanded southwards. It's all here. So yeah, it'll be further away from the station, which is going to suck in the winter, but I'm personally exited about the new exits not being in the clusterf#!$ intersection with south street anymore. Maybe they can put something cool (a dunkies!!) where the old overhang is now.

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Do you mean there will be no roofed bus waiting areas -- or just hat he current one has to come down and new roofing will be built?

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Though I am assuming we will be getting something akin to what Kenmore got.

We'll see.

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Ah. The design of the Upper Busway itself was finalized very late in the process, so other than landscaping not many people got a good (or any) look at it. They are indeed demolishing the existing roof, but they are building a new one after the busway is extended towards Ukraine Way. I just don't know what it will look like. Rather than making it a three-island busway (if that makes sense) they decided to make it a longer one. All passenger access from the station will be covered by roof I believe... but I'm not sure what happens if it is snowing/raining and windy. Probably better for 39 riders that standing under the dripping Casey, and about the same for current upper busway users. The bus exit from the busway moves southward with it's own signal, rather than taking the serpentine driveway to South Street near the VFW. That change, along with the bermed and landscaped screening island along Washington St. allows them to extend the off-street bike paths and sidewalks alongside the station to Ukraine. I think you've seen this, but here's a link to what the plan looks like in color. The roof is shown as a faint dotted line. http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2015/01/casey-arborway-closer-look-at-southern.html

Driver might be p*ssed that his parking space goes away to accomodate this.

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...but this is a road project.

Have been thinking about that notion... It's really much more than that. Not so much because of organic, internal mission creep but because this is an opportunity to do a major overhaul of a complex transit hub that needs to serve trains, buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians as well as possible. And because of existing state and city policy mandates that require an equitable approach to how they provide that multi-modal accomodation. That's a very good thing for the fabric of the neighborhood, for the commuting functionality of the city and for regional recreational opportunity.

And as I understand it, the streets will be strewn with rose petals... but I may have that part a little off.

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Why are they doing all of this?

It is all about replacing a bridge, with MassDOT deciding to replace it with surface streets. Anything beyond that is a payoff to the shareholders who are supporting them.

If the overpass was built better and/or better maintained, there's no replacement, no bike paths, none of this.

Don't get me wrong, if it all works out as planned, it should be great. But you know my opinion on that by now.

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Problems like irreparable bridges create opportunities, and when they're in an urban setting there is Context to that opportunity.

Forest Hills is a transit hub, Jamaica Plain is one of the city's 'greenest' neighborhoods, the Emerald Necklace is one of the most historically important parks in America. There are engineers, architects, planners, neighbors, advocates all speaking different languages and with differing agendas and responsibilties. There are many different agencies involved, the state and city both have planning guidelines that are designed to accomodate multi-modal access and encourage 'transit oriented development' where appropriate - and all those elements were actively in play during the planning process.

It seems to be a rare thing when all those issues and stakeholders (and many others) can be responsibly and responsively managed towards a result that is balanced and integrated into a coherant whole as they have been here over years of steady and complex urban planning.

It is remarkable to me that the final design looks more like, say, a really good salad than like a community bulletin board with a lot of random stuff stuck to it. It isn't just tinsel and ornament.

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Mass Architectural Acccess Board rules get triggered if rehabilitation work around an MBTA station exceeds more than X percent of the original cost of that facility. I *think* he said the percentage was quiet low (3% -5% is my recollection), and since it is tied to the easily reached *original* costs the law has lead to access improvements at MBTA facilities all around the region that benefit not only wheelchair users but stroller users, folks who don't handle stairs well, etc.

It's a multi point trigger: if the work is >30% of the full and fair cash value the whole building+site must be brought up to speed, MAAB/ADA guildeline-wise. If it's <, the amount of work revolves around whether the cost is above or below $100k. Plus, there is a 3 year window: if other work was performed within 3 years (in either direction - it's a ticking clock), that amount counts toward that 30%. Maintenance does not count toward this. You can read more here http://www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/license-type/aab/aab... in Section 3 Jurisdiction.

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I've learned a heckuva lot following this project, now including that.

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I don't think they were part of the original structure. The state added them some time in the late 80s or early 90s when they last renovated the bridge.

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I remember walking across the bridge in the Summer of 1988. They may have rebuilt them, but they were there before.

I also drove over the bridge for perhaps the last time today. Sigh.

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They weren't original. Not sure when, but sidewalks added long after 50s and vehicle lanes and weight limits were reduced after that because of weakness in the hammerhead piers - they moved the weight to the center to extend the life of the overpass. Successfully, for a while.

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What a douche. I've been in Boston for 12 years and I would never dream of using that number to pull rank in any public forum.

Also, an at-grade intersection is never the answer. More rotaries and flyovers. Of course the bridge is crumbling, kinda hard to pay for it when your community is full of people who get handed five figures a year from retirement age until they die to do nothing.

In this community, we chose guaranteed lifetime paychecks for people over other expenditures. Now the piper is getting paid.

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people who get handed five figures a year from retirement age until they die to do nothing.

In what way is this an accurate description of Jamaica Plain?

(also, "five figures a year" could mean $10,000 which is not exactly a princely sum)

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It's a description of Massachusetts, the general fund of which pays for this project.

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Because he's been around JP long enough to know that doesn't cut it with the 30+ year crowd.

He cited the number, as well as how long he worked/lived in Dorchester as part of a statement that everywhere he lives and works (he's a former reporter/editor at the JP Gazette and Dorchester Reporter), he always spends time getting to know both side of an issue before taking a stand.

But, in any case, as obnoxious as you might think that is, yelling at him to go somewhere else because the real residents hate him is way, way more obnoxious.

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I get SO beyond tired of this "I grew up here & my parents grew up here" kind of BS that people use to show their opinion means more than anyone else.

I've lived in a ton of places around the country and feel so blessed to finally have found Boston and made it my home for the last 14 years.

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I really have to admire the state and construction-company engineers who have now sat through three of these rantfests without throwing something or just dropping the mic and storming out.

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Cry more about getting supermarket circulars delivered to your house.

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The difference between us Globe Direct whiners and the bridge whiners is we don't show up at public hearings and scream obscenities at Globe Direct backers, break out into rousing renditions of "We Shall Overcome" or snort at people who have lived in Boston for less than 30 years.

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They're concerned with real issues and you're obsessed with insignificant nonsense.

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At the end of the day, we're talking about whether it'll take 22 minutes for someone in Roslindale to get to work vs 25 minutes. It's not the Iraq war or climate change, ok? And yes, most of us can, in a given minute, worry about global warming, what we're going to have for dinner, and yes, maybe whether another soggy plastic bag full of wet newspaper is going to land on our porch. No one is picketing at the Globe, OK, or accusing them of being lying liars who are spreading cancer with their stupid advertising. Get some perspective.

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... have you driven (rode) north on Washington in morning rrush hour? Screw ups around Forest Hills (even ones as minor as a mis-timed traffic light) can make the trip from Roslindale Square take an extra 15 minutes.

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"You only care about the Globe Direct" posts. My point is that most of us can be irritated by trivia AND concerned about greater issues simultaneously--that said, in the grand scheme of things...there's traffic and snafus now. There will be traffic and snafus in the future. I haven't seen any evidence that there will be more fifteen minute delays because of this project--what I do keep seeing is hand-wringing and hyperbole over what boil down to minor and in many case temporary inconveniences.

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I was pointing out the Adam's hypocrisy (It's ok for him to whine incessantly about the Globe Direct, but not ok for other people [not me] to complain about Casey bridge demolition).

Sallys gonna Sally.

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IMAGE(http://hoydenabouttown.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/inigo-montoya_that-word.jpg)

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At the end of the day, we're talking about whether it'll take 22 minutes for someone in Roslindale to get to work vs 25 minutes.

Oh, I didn't know we had Ms. Cleo here to predict the future. You must make a killing in the stock market.

It's not the Iraq war or climate change, ok?

The Iraq war? Get some perspective and maybe some news from this decade.

maybe whether another soggy plastic bag full of wet newspaper is going to land on our porch.

It only gets that way when lazy whiners neglect their property.

No one is picketing at the Globe, OK, or accusing them of being lying liars who are spreading cancer with their stupid advertising. Get some perspective.

You're angry and dismissive. Suits you perfectly Ms. Cleo. Don't go gray worrying about climate change, you can really make a big difference.

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Enough.

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Adam, c'mon. You hate the Globe Direct flyers - and since this is your site, you (legitimately) feel you can rant about it here. That's cool. But you should own the fact that you can kvetch with the best of em when it's your ox being gored.

*colloquialism achievement unlocked*

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Then somehow Governor Sargent agreed with them by the early 1970s.

Yes, they did stop a highway back in the day, so the irony of their theoretical descendants wanting cars to get a priority here is there, but still, if you've been in the area long enough, the theory is that by battling until the end you might just win.

By the way, I hope you all enjoy the Southwest Corridor Park. I do.

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The pro-bridgers found it "ironic" that the project is happening right where the expressway is stopped. One said he doesn't understand why the state wants to put the equivalent of I-93 right next to a train station.

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And if MassDOT had swung this the other way, the anti-bridge crown would be going on in a similar fashion. My gut is that it would have sounded like "40 years after we kept a highway for tearing the place apart, we shouldn't be allowing the expressway of the 50s to keep on tearing Forest Hills apart."

Though it drives a lot of people nuts, I am glad that the odd political culture of places like Jamaica Plain still lives on.

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the false comparisons/doomsday scenario of installing a 6 lane roadway.

There are already 4 lanes on the ground - 2 lanes are being added.

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because at the last meeting at English, a cluster of women kept shouting "where do you live?" at every traffic engineer and project manager who appeared at the mic and then booing scornfully when they said "Leominster" or wherever. At some point one of them responded drily that he'd grown up two blocks from Forest Hills--that kind of shushed them up.

Honestly, thirty years in the scheme of things isn't huge--that's 1985. Pete Stidman was probably in preschool. There are plenty of people in my neighborhood who have lived here for sixty-plus years and they don't make asses of themselves.

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sadly, we no longer participate in these meetings even if we go to the meetings because of the risk of being ridiculed by the bridge people (our neighbors). We (wife & i) after all have only lived here for 5 1/2 years and I am convinced that we will be shouted down because of our newness to jp.

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is more relevant to current traffic concerns than eight years', or nine, or thirty.

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..it probably feels like he has been living here for 30...it ages you.

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Driving in Boston ages you. Biking keeps you young. Pete Stidman is, in fact, 89 years old.

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Yancey being Yancey.

God help his district...and the rest of the city.

Please, folks in his district, decide NOW on one strong candidate to oppose Yancey and defeat him in the next election!

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That goes for most districts.

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That's what the preliminary takes care of. Heck, if you truly think Yancey is misrepresenting his constituents, get 2 strong candidates and knock him out in September. That said, my gut is that you are not from Mattapan.

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And this woman really kills me:

A Mattapan resident said she was upset to learn about the project so late in the game and said state officials still are not doing enough to notify residents of areas such as Mattapan and Dorchester about the project.

I live in f***ing Hopkinton and have known about this bridge project for it seems like forevah.

The hyperbole that comes out in situations like this is nauseating. We just had town meeting, and some of the things people say are just outright lies or extreme hyperbole. "People are going to DIE because of this". Really?

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What I find amusing is how universal the situation is. Whether you are at a neighborhood meeting in Roslindale or JP or Town Meeting in a suburb, you can count on the fact that there will always be people who had no idea some major project had been planned for the last decade, tremendous concern about whether or not the affected people have been properly consulted, and, of course, the argument that longevity in the community trumps logic and data. It is all part of the democratic process. Consensus is REALLY hard to achieve. In the end, things are never as bad as people fear nor as good as people hope.

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“There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams.”

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In the bottom of a locked filing cabinet? In a disused lavatory with a sign that says beware of leopard?

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A Mattapan resident said she was upset to learn about the project so late in the game and said state officials still are not doing enough to notify residents of areas such as Mattapan and Dorchester about the project.

State Rep. Russell Holmes, who represents parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roslindale, and JP, attended most of the Casey meetings during the long planning process. And I believe he hosted a couple of meetings in Mattapan and Dorchester. So while every resident may not have been in attendance, Rep. Holmes ably represented the interests of those neighborhoods during the process.

Sometimes I think that constructive and civil participation like his gets overlooked and that only grandstanders like Yancy, who swoop in at the 11th hour to hold useless hearings, get rewarded by voters. Sadly.

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Love the photo of the woman trying to pass for four sign holders. That's BFH in a nutshell: exaggerate everything.

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Their Move On petition to Governor Baker - the one that ignores the environmental impact and mitigation paperwork that is readily available - cites the demolition as being immoral, bad for motherhood, illegal, fatal, killing people, etc.

Wouldn't a rebuild require demolition anyway? I thought that was a major reason for the at-grade: the bridge was not fixable.

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of the Casey was the bridge deck. Had they decided to replace the bridge instead of going with the at-grade plan being constructed, they would have likely re-used the piers and abutments and possibly rehabilitated some, if not most, of the structural steel. While replacing the deck would have still involved some demolition, the extent would have been far less than with removing the entire structure.

Of course, when all was said and done, we still would have wound up with basically a carbon copy of the existing bridge - besides cost considerations, this was one of the principal reasons the at-grade option being constructed was selected instead.

That having been said, the people crying about the demolition resulting in widespread disease, chaos, dogs and cats living together, etc., etc. should really step back and take the advice stated in the name of their petition.

In other words, this whole thing has been studied and debated to death, and a decision was rendered and is being implemented. So let's just move on.

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Back in the late 80s they did a bunch of work on the deck. I thought what doomed the bridge was the quality of steel used in its construction, owing a lot to the Korean War and unrest in the steel industry.

I'll say it until I'm old and gray. Okay older and gray if I don't go bald first. It's a nice bridge with a nice view that does not really blight the area at all, due to the fact it was built to sky over the elevated and spanned a valley. I'll miss it, and hopefully I will not be missing it while stuck in traffic due to its demise.

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it's my understanding that they weren't so severe that they would have to been totally demolished. It's actually very rare in any sort of major bridge reconstruction that does not involve a deck widening or other significant changes to the structure to have to do that.

You have a point about the steel. But again, setting new steel (or precast concrete) beams on rehabbed piers is hardly an unusual procedure - that's exactly what MassDOT did with the I-93 Medford Fast 14 bridges.

And I respect your viewpoints about the bridge. Personally, I'm not convinced that the "problems" with the existing bridge justified going with the at-grade option. However, as I stated previously, the alternatives were discussed in multiple public forums, arguments made on both sides, and an informed decision made and committed to.

The fact that, despite all this, some people are still attempting to debate the merits of a project that construction has already begun on is, to put it politely, very unfortunate. And if certain people chose not to get involved in the public process early on, that is hardly MassDOT's fault. After all, it's not like those initial public meetings were held in Pittsfield, let alone on Alpha Centurai.

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IMAGE(http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/casey-construction-771x496.jpg)
From the files of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, this is a view of construction of the Casey Overpass in 1952 or 1953.

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Was there any discussion of whether there will be short term changes to the 39?

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Although in the greater scheme of things, it didn't sound like much (but what do I know?). They'll be moving the 39 stop a bit closer to the train station, so they can take down the overpass without worrying about the bus and its riders (similarly, they'll be putting in some temporary decking to keep bridge chunks from plummeting onto the commuter-rail platform).

Longer term, the 39 will join up with its friends the 34, 35, 36, 37, 40 and 50 in a newly expanded upper busway along Washington Street.

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Okay, thank you -- MBTA of course hasn't said anything yet and the last thing I wanted to do was show up monday morning and not have a way to work :)

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sending out alerts about weekend busitution diversions that won't happen for over a month from now.

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only other minor nuance: the current 39 terminus loop gets stretched a bit very soon towards the east/Franklin Park direction to allow for demolition of the overpass above. They said the upper busway (future home) construction/demo will begin within 30 days and continue for "about a year".

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what makes this country so great!

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James Madden 'shopped part of my photo from the meeting:

Long Island needs a bridge
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Was wondering today if anyone's ever looked into the possibility of adding a Northwest Corridor Amtrak stop at Forest Hills. Now would be a perfect time to do it. The trains all run through there anyway, and it would be awesome to have an option to NYC, Providence, etc. right in the neighborhood. I mean it's not a big deal to get to Back Bay from Rozzie or JP on the commuter rail or orange line, but it would be another way to connect the area to the wider world really easily. I suppose the red tape involved in adding a couple of Quick-Track machines and some sort of station attendant at Forest Hills is probably vast, though.

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The benefit of intercity rail would be further eroded if we start adding stops for convenience along the route. Add a stop in Forrest Hills, then why not at some other local spot along the route, say between 128 and Providence? As you say, it's very easy to get to Back Bay station via bus or MBTA.

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I'm biased since I work right at Forest Hills, but I am a little surprised that only the Needham line stops at Forest Hills.

Granted the same argument of "Just take the Orange line from Ruggles" applies but that's an extra 10-xx minutes (depending on delays and such) to backtrack.

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But amazingly tough to achieve.

It's been a long time since I've taken the CR from Forest Hills, but there is only the one platform on the side of the main line, and it gets busy. This is as opposed to Hyde Park, which has 2 platforms and an express track.

I suppose if Forest Hills got more commercial space or better links to areas with jobs, the demand would be there. Of course, they could also expand the Orange Line to Readville or Route 128, but those seem much, much less likely, despite the pent up demand.

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Route 128 station would be very difficult to reasonably achieve, principally for right of way reasons and minimizing interference with the CR and freight junctions at Readville.

IMHO, one of the biggest failings of Governor Sargent's eventual cancellation of the expanded Boston Area highway network in the early 1970s was the fact that no provisions were made to still construct the extended transit lines that were proposed. OL south of Forest Hills was supposed to run in the median of the Southwest Expressway at least to Route 128 in Canton.

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and one stop to Roslindale is currently doable.

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Not without a lot of property taking around the, um, "Village."

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Eh, Needham only access is really the only thing that's possible at FH. P/S is too packed at peak to be making stops that are redundant with rapid transit, Shoehorning the Franklin in (when it uses the mainline and not the Fairmount bypass) screws up the already tight Needham schedules (the Needham line is dying a slow death - eventually expanded southside CR and Amtrak will choke it off to uselessness), the Amtrak regionals and high-speeds have no reason to stop there - basically the main line needs to be kept flowing at a good clip, stopping at FH screws with that and hinders more important lines. It's also easy enough to get there from Readville, HP, Ruggles etc... Yes it's a 10 min delay, but that's the best solution given our current circumstance

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tragic, maybe criminal, lethal

Yep. The grapes are so sour, hydrochloric acid will certainly issue forth! That would be tragic, maybe criminal, lethal ...

Not sure why I got this on FB, though. I don't really care, so long as we aren't wasting state money on structures if they don't need to be there.

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I work in housing and neighborhood redevelopment. This project is going to be huge for the south side of JP, where I also live. While I don't necessarily agree with the pattern of the future surface roads, I firmly believe it won't nearly be as big of an issue as these dissenters are trying to sell it as. Not only will traffic likely improve due to better coordination of the (less) traffic lights, but opening up the space will make it more attractive to developers to improve existing housing, increase the housing stock (which will bring more people), and bring new businesses to the area.

The BRA has already approved The Commons at Forest Hills Station for example.

I love JP, but I don't think many can argue that the south side of JP is necessarily the best it could be. This is just the first step in making it better. As stated earlier, I honestly feel like these people will be eating crow in a few years when they see how much better taking the overpass down actually is to this area.

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The Parcel U project got BRA approval in December.

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I've accepted this as a fait accompli and hope it works well, but I do think the benefits of the renovation are going to be heavily in favor of the immediate locals at the expense of everyone else in this part of the city (people from Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan). So yeah, south JP will benefit and south of JP will suffer.

TBD.

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But isn't that the way it should be? Neighborhoods should be designed for the people living in them, not the people driving through them. Urban planners in the middle of the last century usually had those priorities backwards, and their legacy has been a disaster in so many cities.

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I know I've made this point before but I think there is a difference between knocking down a neighborhood to create regional infrastructure and knocking down regional infrastructure to benefit a local neighborhood. Simply put, the lower income neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roslindale are going to possibly suffer an impact to their ease of access to the parts of the city where the best health care and best jobs are while a relatively affluent area (JP) will see some improvements. Someone in JP already has the orange line and the 39 bus and can easily ride their bike to the medical areas and colleges.

No-one involved on either side of this lived in the area before this was built, so it's a bit like complaining about Fenway park when you live in the Fenway. Not that it can't be improved but it's not imposing something on a neighborhood.

We'll see. I'm not going to get too outraged about it although it will certainly degrade my personal transportation life for the coming years.

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That "possibly suffer" part has two elements. "Possibly" only comes about if you reject the data used or if the data is wrong. "Suffer" flows from that unless you consider a projected 90 second delay in the year 2035 to be suffering.

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I agree! I think opening the link between south JP and Forest Hills -- and south JP and Rozzie - is only going to do great things for both neighborhoods.

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I know for a fact that some people in the BFH crowd are mostly concerned that surface grade makes area more attractive to development. Keep a bridge, keep the area crappy, keep developers away, block gentrification.

They know what blocking the expressway did to JP, they don't want to make the same mistake in Forest Hills.

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After driving over it with junior late this morning (we were in the park and headed to Dedham), I tried to do the same with the missus at around 7. The inbound side was closed (of course, the way we were going) but the outbound side was open.

Mind you, this was a week-end evening, but things went well.

Of course, those of you wincing at some of us bitching know that the actual former Casey traffic is not our concern. We'll see how things go coming from Roslindale on Monday morning. Of course, my feeling is that Paul will have his pockets picked with the new configuration so that Peter's commute will be no more than 90 seconds longer, but that remains to be seen.

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