|The Ghost of Stony Brook in the Casey Arborway design runs diagonally under the trees from red car to red car in this image.|
Friday, October 31, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
|Project Overview, Final - April 2014|
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
An #ArborwayMatters Editorial
In a recent Op-Ed piece published online by the Boston Globe, the authors make all manner of inaccurate claims in support of their discredited notion that a replacement bridge should be built where the Casey Overpass now stands.
They claim that no new transit will be created. If by that they mean no new transit amenities, in fact the entire project area will be revitalized in a manner that provides enhanced efficiency and access for all modes of transit, not just cars: pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles, and MBTA riders of both the Orange Line and the several bus routes that originate or terminate at Forest Hills station.
They claim that "all left turns" are banned when in fact — and as they well know—that is far from the truth. They dismiss long-term maintenance costs to the citizens of the Commonwealth for their mythical new bridge as being irrelevant. They reject MassDOT's professional engineering studies showing the Overpass to be dangerously beyond repair, citing earlier apples-to-oranges studies to bolster their claims of nefarious intent.
To them it is simply "inconceivable" — despite all the peer-reviewed data and the will of the community engaged in the process — that life without an overpass might not be as horrible as they claim.
But in reality, and improved by public input at every turn in dozens of meetings the authors attended, the Project calls for revitalized plazas on both the north and south sides of Arborway at the Forest Hills station. The all-new northern plaza will feature a new head house offering direct access to the Orange Line platfrom for commuters seeking the station from the north — without the necessity of crossing the Arborway at all. The dismal station-side plaza which now sits in the shadow of the overpass and harbors the idling buses of the Route 39 terminus, will be made newly inviting and the #39 will be relocated to a new upper busway. Contiguous on and off-street bicycle paths and pedestrian sidewalks will rim the entire area from Franklin Park to the Arboretum, from the Upper Arborway to Ukraine Way and provide safe access for commuters and recreational users of both modes throughout this broken portion of the Emerald Necklace corridor.
Though the construction period will be no picnic for area residents or for pass-through commuters, these coming features are not the hallmarks of diminished quality of life for the residents of Forest Hills and Jamaica Plain. They represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to accomplish something grand for the future of the city, through a plan crafted by professionals and by engaged citizens who care deeply about that future.
In the end the authors fall back on an appeal to Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh, proclaiming that he has a "duty" to demand a moratorium on the project (as he called for early in his campaign). They are well aware that Mr. Walsh himself reversed that position once he became better informed about the issue and learned more about the dozens of public citizen's advisory meetings, the seven well-attended public hearings at English High School, and the hundreds of community members and organizations engaged in the process of devising a replacement for the crumbling bridge over the past three years. Reversing course again would be absolute folly and thwart the will of the community.
The authors should certainly know that members of this community will not sit idly by while falsehoods are promoted in the public arena. Happily, a glance at the comments section of the Op-Ed piece reveals the passionate support that the Casey Arborway project enjoys within the community. The authors and the Mayor should take note. Instead of trying to erect roadblocks in front of this important and beneficial project, they should be applying their energies towards leveraging the value of the $60+ million the Commonwealth is spending on the Casey Arborway by calling for access improvements in the surrounding neighborhoods adjacent to the project: improved sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, and park maintenance are all relatively inexpensive in comparison, and could go a long way towards making Jamaica Plain and Forest Hills the greenspace and recreational mecca it can become.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
|Click the image for a larger version|
In addition to vastly expanded off-street and on-street amenities for pedestrians and cyclists throughout and newly revitalized connections between the Arboretum and Franklin Park, some of the highlights include (left to right, west to east):
- A bow-tie u-turn lane at the Forest Hills Gate of the Arboretum. There will be no westbound left turns at South St/Washington and those seeking that route will need to reverse direction here. There will also be a pedestrian- activated crosswalk there, and a new northerly sidewalk from South Street to it.
- The smaller, upper Arborway frontage road is going to be relocated approximately two car-lengths northward at South Street to create more queueing space at South/Arborway.
- The 39 bus which currently terminates under the Overpass is being relocated to a newly expanded Upper Busway south of the T station. Residential neighbors here are shielded from noise & visuals by a bermed and landscaped hump between the busway and southerly Washington St. Bus exits are steered around a small island so that their headlights don't shine on residential homes.
- The current T station plaza south of the new Arborway is being revamped, and off-street east-west bike paths and sidewalks created. The taxi stand currently alongside the upper busway will be relocated to both sides of the Arborway, along with pick-up/drop-off space for cars.
- At the end of Southwest Corridor Park a new plaza is being created that features a new head house for direct access to the T platform from the north side of the Arborway. Dedicated bike and pedestrian paths - including a bike rotary - as well as benches and new 'programmable space' for things like farmer's markets and fairs will be here too. The current mid-block crosswalk is being eliminated, and there will be substantial planting boxes and smaller flowering trees in the median above the tracks.
- An eastbound bow-tie u-turn will be created in front of the Court House (there will be no left turns onto northerly Washington from eastbound Arborway). A crosswalk here leads to a Court House parking lot on the Arborway Yard site.
- The north side between Washington Street and Franklin Park will have dedicated off-street pedestrian and cycling paths.
- The Shea Circle rotary on the eastern end is being replaced by a signalized intersection dubbed Shea Square. On the north side, Franklin Park expands a little. South of the intersection will be a small park in front of Franklin Park Villa. Sidewalks are being added to and through the island at Forest Hills Cemetery.
Some construction will begin in late 2014 and the project is still expected to be completed in late 2016.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
|75% stage Shea Plan|
|75% stage Shea Square aerial rendering|
The working meeting began with an acknowledgement by MHC that MassDOT has "demonstrated that there is no feasible and prudent alternative" to MassDOT's plan. The meeting then proceeded to a discussion of mitigation measures that might reduce the impact of the decision. All other comments concerning the overall Casey Arborway Project were steered by MHC toward the purpose of the meeting: seeking mitigation suggestions.
MassDOT proposed a) a thorough documentation of the site as it exists and b) context-sensitive landscaping and design to mitigate the adverse effect. George Batchelor, Supervisor of Landscape Design at MassDOT made a visual presentation of the Final Design of the site beginning with an Overlay that showed the existing rotary superimposed upon the future Square. [Apologies for the quality of these hasty photos]
|Rotary overlay on Square design|
The design features dedicated pedestrian and bicycle paths and crossings, an allee of boulevard red oaks, the retention of the existing stone walls on the Franklin Park side and the creation of a feature-rich park to the south.
|Final design showing expansion of Franklin Park|
The new park in front of Franklin Park Villa will feature flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs, benches and an interpretive kiosk describing the history of the site.
|New park detail with preliminary kiosk|
Proposed flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs are all varieties that have survived well in Boston parks according to Batchelor, selected with an eye towards the history of the area, seasonal variety, flowering longevity and hardiness.
|Proposed shrubs and bulbs|
|Proposed flowering trees|
Plans for the project call for the replacement of the crumbling Casey Overpass with an At-Grade boulevard, bike paths, pedestrian ways, as well as an expanded Upper busway, a new northern plaza at the terminus of SW Corridor Park and a new MBTA head house providing direct access to the T platform from the plaza. Earlier announced schedules had called for some traffic rerouting onto existing overpass ramps and then the demolition of a substantial portion of the Overpass to take place in 2014, with the project continuing through September 2016.