Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More Fear-mongering and Truth Bending

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.

Clayton Harper
Jamaica Plain

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