Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Casey Arborway - central section up close

Here is a detailed view of the central Casey Arborway. Please click the image for much higher resolution:

The new Southwest Corridor Park Plaza along the northern side of the Arborway between South Street and Washington will see substantial changes of benefit to the surrounding community. The bike paths (blue) will enter the Plaza through an innovative Bicycle Rotary designed to slow cyclists as they arrive. The sidewalk (tan) from the corridor will have it's own raised crosswalk across the bike path. The plaza itself will be filled with new trees (solid green circles) and perennial plantings with ample seating (red). It is to be surfaced where possible with permeable pavers that allow rain water to be recycled and nourish the plants. This is not possible directly above the train tracks. Central to the plaza is an all new glass and steel Head House: an entrance/exit on the north side of the Arborway directly to the MBTA platform for Charlie Card T-pass users. It will have an elevator for handicapped access and strollers. There are bike racks on the eastern and southern sides of the Head House. The grassy portion towards the tracks to the north is sloped upwards, creating a seating area that might serve potential concerts, farmers markets, food trucks or other programming on the plaza. The easterly bike path here continues off-street all the way to Franklin Park, separated from the sidewalk by grade, trees and grass.

There will be a pick-up and drop-off lane along the north side, while the current taxi stand is being relocated along the south side of the Arborway by the station. The median here will have trees where possible and raised planters above the tracks for smaller, flowering shrubs. There will be no mid-block crossing of the Arborway allowed - pedestrians and cyclists will need to cross at the major intersections. But the new Head House means that many commuters from the north will not need to cross the Arborway at all to reach their trains. Pedestrian crosswalks are white ladder-style, while bicycle ones are green on roadways. At all intersections these will be count-down pedestrian signals with audible chirping.

The southern MBTA Plaza is being totally revamped as well, with permeable pavers used where possible. Bike paths (blue) continue on this side from the Arboretum to Forest Hills Cemetery and on the southern side of the station to Ukraine Way. New plantings and seating makes for a more inviting space in front of the station - it is expected that pushcart style retail kiosks may use the plaza as well. Note that with the Overpass gone, the #39 bus terminus will be relocating to an expanded upper busway to the south, along the western portion of Washington Street. The current stairs leading from the eastern side of the Plaza to the lower busway and Hyde Park Ave will be replaced with a handicap-accessible ramp under many new trees and shrubs.

It may be difficult to spot in this image - it was for me, and I've been studying it for many months now - but hiding under the trees just east of Washington Street and running northeast diagonally from the south across the media and towards the Arborway Yard is an architectural reminder and an echo of the original Stony Brook in the form of a rocky landscaped feature and pavement change. This important waterway, which now runs through a culvert tunnel below ground to the Fens, once provided water to Jamaica Plain's many breweries and other industrial enterprises along what is now Amory Street. This design element is one of many sensitive and delightful features that will enhance the neighborhood and the experience of visitors for years to come. Here's a closer look at that feature:

For a look at the northwestern portion of the new Casey Arborway, click here:

The eastern portion of the new Casey Arborway is examined in detail here:

The southern portion of the Casey Arborway project area is detailed here:


  1. Thank you for all of this great info! Any idea when construction on the head house and surrounding area will take place?

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  3. As you may know, some of the delays in the central portion of the project relate to delays in procuring new exhaust fans that must be installed at the northern end of the Orange Line platform. These will provide ventilation that previously came from the "chimney effect" of the old head house. Once that work is done, they'll be able to demolish the old head house and move the east-west main Arborway to its permanent location right through where the current head house is. The new head house and new northern plaza will be constructed approximately where the temporary roadway is now. As of this writing, MassDOT is still saying that all this work will be completed by year-end, with some landscaping to follow next Spring.

  4. As of January 2018, it is expectedvthat the new head house will be available to the public in October 2018.