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Casey Arborway to Reshape Forest Hills VIDEO

State transportation officials said the area will be transformed during a Thursday Casey Overpass walkthrough.

Bike lanes, clear pedestrian access and 90 less tress are just a few of the aesthetics that will follow the Casey Overpass overhaul.

State transportation officials led a walkthrough of the Casey Overpass area Thursday just before sundown. Several members of the Jamaica Plain community attended the walkthrough, which was followed by a meeting at the English High School.

The walkthrough and meeting were triggered because of the state’s Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act filing in November.

Michael Trepanier, senior environmental planner at the Highway Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said several areas of Forest Hills surrounding the overpass would be altered based on the teardown of the eroding Casey Overpass.

From the grassy area in front of Forest Hills MBTA station, Trepanier listed the areas that would be affected: “Portions of Washington Street South, New Washington Street, Washington Street North and that stub of Washington Street that really should be called Hyde Square Avenue,” he said.

The MBTA station’s plaza including the upper bus way, Shea Circle and an area surrounding the West Roxbury Courthouse will be changed due to the Arborway project as well, he said.

To provide a visual example of how the area will change, Trepanier led the group of about 25 people to Shea Circle. He explained this area would become “Shea Square” as part of the project. The rotary would be replaced with a four way traffic-lighted intersection.

“The pavement surrounding the circle would move to the middle and the green space would move to the periphery,” he said.

Within the circle there are several trees. Originally, the plan called for only about 11 trees to be cut down. However, now the state is looking at removing upwards of 90, but many are at inactive space, such as on the Shea Circle rotary.

“There’s a large number of trees that line the overpass, those can’t be saved with the demolition activities that will be occurring,” he said.

Only about nine large trees, which line the Arborway Gardens apartments, will need to be cut.

Underneath the overpass are 105 parking spaces reserved for West Roxbury Courthouse staff. Because the new six-lane roadway will pass directly through this area, about 100 spaces will be lost, Trepanier said.

He said MassDOT looked into angle parking along the frontage road at one point, but this was met with opposition from representatives of Arborway Gardens.

Forest Hills MBTA station will see a dramatic overhaul by way of the project as well.

In addition to three bus lanes, the entire bus canopy will be demolished and rebuilt, and parking will be built out from its current location.

MassDOT estimates construction will begin in spring 2014, and the project will be completed in 2016. The project, which is funded through Gov. Deval Patrick's Accelerated Bridge program, will cost $54 million, acccording to state officials.

Sarah Freeman December 14, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Regarding the tree loss associated with the demolition of the Overpass, about 90 trees will be removed, and 190 new trees would be re-planted, with a net gain of about 100. We weren't told what type of watering/maintenance/warranty those new trees will receive - Experience shows that one can't assume 100% survival.
George P. Zoulalian December 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Adding to Sarah's comment, I can report that DOT has engaged personal from the Arnold Arboretum to help select a variety of shade and ornamental trees all throughout the project area. It could be stunning, especially in the Spring. Just look at the Southwest Corridor Park now twenty-five years later. Who would have predicted that Lamartine Street would have a full shade canopy a` la Newton. Now that I have walked the project, I see that the new entrance to the Orange line will be located in a very large addition to the SWCP. That's right, where the road and the pedestrian light is now, will be new parkland as the Casey Arborway moves to the south under what is now the dreary area under the overpass. My only reservation is that it will be a longer walk to the 39 Bus. Most people on the north side will probably embark at South Street. I hope they put a big shelter there to accommodate those that can't go all the way to the upper busway.
Michael Halle December 14, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Adding further to the initial loss of trees, many of the ninety trees are near the current raised structure that needs to be demolished. Given the nature of serious demolition, I think it would be hard to save those trees no matter what replaced the existing overpass.

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