Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Casey Arborway Annotated: The Eastern End

On November 19, 2013 MassDOT revealed their final design proposals for the Casey Arborway to the Design Advisory Group (DAG) of citizens and advocates who have been working to communicate the community's desires and concerns. The eastern end shown below has not yet cleared it's final regulatory hurdle, the Massachusetts Historical Commission's finding of "adverse effect" for the change from Shea Circle to the proposed Shea Square intersection shown. Shea Circle, a large diameter multi-lane rotary at the southwestern entrance to Franklin Park, was created in the 1930s long after Olmsted's original plans for the Emerald Necklace. MassDOT proposes to "demonstrate that the adverse effect is unavoidable to achieve the purpose and intent of the project".

Many supporters of the plan feel that creating the Square here results in more usable greenspace by connecting underutilized land in the rotary island to the surrounding parks and recreation areas rather than leaving it stranded and inaccessible. Other added benefits of the Square proposal include a new "front yard" for Franklin Park Villa to the south, and most importantly: safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the intersection with significant traffic calming where a notoriously dangerous rotary now exists.

As in the other Annotated Casey blog entries here, these annotations are my own - and the pdf version linked is far easier to read.

The Casey Arborway Annotated: The Western End

The Casey Arborway Annotated: The South/Washington St. Corridor

Casey Arborway Annotated: The Western End

On November 19, 2013 MassDOT revealed their final design for the estimated $59 million Casey Arborway Project. An early blog post annotated The South-Washington North-South Corridor. The Annotated Casey: Eastern End is available here.

This link points to a large pdf file with annotations by me describing many of the features of the western end of the new Casey Arborway:

The western end of the project has been one of the last to be designed. Highlights of the plan here include:
  • New sidewalk and off-street bike path along the northern side of the Arborway west of South St.
  • A pedestrian-activated crosswalk providing access to the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum from the north.
  • There will be no westbound left turns onto Washington Street. This change of direction will be accomplished by the western "Bow-Tie" U-turn at the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum. A turning apron accommodates wide-turning vehicles. Westbound traffic only stops for turns and pedestrians.
  • New trees soften the large existing retaining wall along the Arborway Hillside.
  • A new, lower retaining wall separates Arborway Rd's grade differential from the Arborway proper at Hampstead Rd.
  • Off-street bike paths and sidewalks along eastbound Arborway.
  • New boulevard trees (Red Oaks) throughout
  • New Northern plaza with MBTA Head House, programmable space, bike paths, permeable surfaces for drainage.
  • Revamped southern MBTA plaza
  • Mid-block pedestrian crossing eliminated
A smaller, less legible version of the pdf image is here:

Casey Arborway Annotated: The South/Washington Corridor

On Novemeber 19th, MassDOT revealed their final design for the $59 million Casey Arborway project. Latest information is that they will advertise to contractors on January 25, select the lowest responsible bidder and issue a Notice to Proceed around May 30, 2014. Substantial demolition will have taken place by the end of 2014 - likely working from the ends towards the middle - and the project is expected to be completed by September 30, 2016.

The following link points to an in-depth, annotated look at the designs for the South St/Washington St corridor on the western side of the project, with annotations added by me. Apologies if I've mis-characterized anything heard at the meetings. Other portions of the design will be annotated in subsequent blog posts.

This annotated image can be clicked to enlarge, which might make it legible, but the link above is better:

Design highlights of the South St./Washington St. corridor include (north to south):
  • "Don't Block the Box" striping on South St at Arborway Rd.
  • Arborway Rd relocated northward approximately two car-lengths at South St to create more southbound queue space at the South/Arborway intersection and to allow easier entrance/exit to Arborway Rd.
  • Bike and pedestrian crosswalks are visually distinctive. 
  • Crossing lights have count-down timers and audible signals, medians have safety islands with crossing buttons. 
  • Corners of intersections have special hexagonal pavers that signal to pedestrians and bikers that they are in a "mixed use zone" - contrasting visual cues indicate where bike lanes continue.
  • Ramps at all crossings.
  • New sidewalk and on-street bike path along westbound Arborway west of South St, with pedestrian-activated crossing light at Arboretum's Forest Hills Gate.
  • Two-way off-street bike path and separate sidewalk sheltered by trees on eastbound Arborway side.
  • New northern plaza between South and Washington includes a new MBTA Head House providing direct access to T platform below without crossing Arborway. Large enough for "programmable use" such as Farmer's Markets, Art Fairs, music festivals, etc. Includes bike racks and benches, permeable surfaces for drainage, many new trees.
  • Southern plaza re-designed, revamped, re-landscaped, providing space for vendor kiosks.
  • Taxi stands moved to Arborway along southern plaza.
  • New "bicycle rotary" slows bikes coming from Southwest Corridor Park.
  • Current mid-block pedestrian crossing eliminated.
  • Off-street bike paths continue south on Washington beyond Asticou Rd., becoming off-street cycle track further south.
  • Off-street bike paths and sidewalks along eastbound Arborway.
  • "Don't Block the Box" striping at Washington/South light by VFW.
  • "Table" crosswalk hump at Asticou to discourage non-local traffic.
  • New roofed Upper Busway, south of existing one. The 39 bus moves here. Buses separated from Washington St and Asticou neighborhood by bermed, landcsaped island. Exit island directs exiting buses and their headlights away from neighbors, lights shielded by walls. Busway extends over lower parking lot, supported by pylons.
  • School buses and parent pick-up consolidated in lower parking lot.
For additional annotations describing the rest of the project see:
The Annotated Casey: Western End

The Annotated Casey: Eastern End