Friday, October 31, 2014

Casey Arborway Halloween Treat: The Ghost of Stony Brook

MassDOT landscape designers under the supervision of George Batchelor have created a nod to the rich history of the Forest Hills and Jamaica Plain area with a landscaped indication of where the mighty Stony Brook once flowed, just east of the intersection where Washington Street and Hyde Park Avenue cross the Arborway.

The Ghost of Stony Brook in the Casey Arborway design runs diagonally under the trees from red car to red car in this image.

Running diagonally from the northeast to the southwest under the trees across sidewalks, bike paths and medians, the surface plans indicate the location of the important stream which now runs in an underground culvert to the Back Bay Fens. The banks of Stony Brook in Jamaica Plain hosted much of the area's earliest industrial activity and supplied the water for Jamaica Plain's numerous breweries. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Casey Arborway Bid Approved by MassDOT Board

On Wednesday, October  22, 2014 the Board of Directors of MassDOT unanimously voted to approve awarding the contract for the Casey Arborway Project to Barletta Heavy Division, a Canton, MA based company with 100 years experience building, maintaining and rehabilitating Boston's infrastructure. They have done extensive work for both MassDOT and the MBTA in the past. The lowest of four bids, the contract is valued at almost $60 million and includes substantial financial incentives for the Casey Overpass to be closed and through-traffic diverted to the adjacent service roads and ramps as soon as possible. There are per-day incentives if this is accomplished sooner than 90 days after a Notice to Proceed, and per-day disincentives if it is not.

Project Overview, Final - April 2014

Project Manager Steve McLaughlin stated at the board meeting that the MassDOT engineers are concerned that the existing structure cannot safely withstand another winter and they want it closed as soon as possible. The overpass is already reduced to one lane in each direction and weight-limited. MassDOT would also like to have substantial demolition of the structure take place over the coming winter months when residents' windows are closed in order to alleviate sound and dust disturbance in the neighborhood. McLaughlin said that three public involvement staff members would be assigned to the project to serve as liaisons to the public and to address questions or concerns.

It is expected that the Notice to Proceed will be issued very shortly, and that soon the Project team will hold a public information meeting to share their final plans and construction staging time lines.
Needless to say this has been a long, complex and sometimes contentious process to date. The resulting final design was improved at every opportunity by the dedicated professionalism of the MassDOT staff along with their consultants and contractors. It has included the input and advice of dozens of organizations advocating for greenspace, bike paths, pedestrians, transit users, neighborhood associations and more. The process engaged hundreds of local citizens whose ideas helped shape the outcome in very real and positive ways. The project promises to transform the area with improved vehicle traffic patterns, revitalized and newly created civic plazas in four locations, a newly expanded upper busway, a new head house at the terminus of Southwest Corridor Park that will provide direct access to the Orange Line platform from the north without crossing the Arborway, bicycle paths throughout the project area and a net gain of 400 trees.

But first will come a little more than two years of construction which will challenge local residents and commuters alike. #ArborwayMatters applauds this milestone and looks forward to the community learning more about the many benefits that will make the inconvenience worth it.