Saturday, April 5, 2014

"No feasible and prudent alternative" - M.H.C.

The third consultation meeting between the Massachusetts Historical Commission and MassDOT concerning the future of Shea Circle rotary in Forest Hills and Jamaica Plain, a part of the Casey Arborway Project, was held on Friday April 4, 2014. The Commission's consultation role had been triggered by the site's inclusion in the state Registry of Historic Places as part of the Morton Street Historic District. MHC had previously found "adverse effect" in MassDOT's plan to create a signalized intersection known as Shea Square where the Shea Circle rotary now stands. The MHC consultation does not concern any other aspect of the Casey Arborway Project.

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
Next steps include MassDOT's drafting of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DOT and MHC concerning mitigation measures, and advertising the Casey Arborway Project for bids in the coming weeks. No revised timetable for the overall project was discussed.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment