The Casey Arborway project, as currently stipulated, will drastically alter the Forest Hills area including a major revamp of a difficult area rotary. But the state historical commission wants more information before the historic circle is made into a square.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission said the demolition of Shea Circle would have an “adverse effect” on the circle, the Morton Street Historic District and the Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston, according to a Jan. 8 letter from the commission to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Under the current Casey Arborway plan, an at-grade roadway system would replace the aging Casey Overpass, bringing with it numerous other changes. One of those changes would take place at Shea Circle, an at-grade spill out rotary from the Casey Overpass on the south-east side.
Based on Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s current Casey Arborway plan, Shea Circle would become “Shea Square,” where a four-way, lighted intersection would replace the current rotary.
The letter asks that MassDOT review alternatives to the plan such as considering a smaller roundabout at the area or a modified, egg-shaped roundabout with a traffic signal, according to the letter.
The letter contends the Environmental Notification Form, required by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act for the Casey project, “did not adequately address the reason for choosing the preferred alternative over the less damaging redesigned roundabout signalized egg intersection.”
MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes said MassDOT anticipated this being an issue, but that the plan as written now is the safest alternative.
“The issue for us is Shea Circle is a high-crash location that carries heavy volume,” he said. “Our overriding goal here is to build a project that’s safe. We felt a conventional four-way intersection was the best way to accommodate all modes not just favor motor vehicles.”
The historical commission asks in the letter that MassDOT back up the assertion that the four-way lighted intersection is in fact the safest alternative.
According to a June 26, 2012 letter written by Mary Stadalnick, Cultural Resources Specialist at the highway division of MassDOT, addressed to the Boston Landmarks Commission, the four-way intersection is the necessary fix despite the site’s historical designation.
“It is MassDOT’s opinion that the reconfiguration of Shea Circle into a signalized intersection is required to provide an adequate level of public safety at this location,” the letter states.