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Forest Hills Group Petitions for New Casey Bridge

Bridging Forest Hills, a local group in support of a new bridge at the Casey Overpass location, has launched an online petition.

With the state finalizing the plan to build an at-grade roadway in place of the Casey Overpass, there’s one Jamaica Plain-based group petitioning for a new bridge.

Bridging Forest Hills is petitioning for signatures from people in support of an above-ground bridge at the Casey Overpass site.

The petition, titled “Mayor Menino: Send MassDOT Back to the Drawing Board,” had 200 signatures with accompanying comments as of Dec. 3.

The text of the petition calls for a review of the current decision.

“Substituting a 6-lane, street-level highway at Forest Hills will have a devastating impact on all the surrounding communities,” the petition says. “We don't want a congested, polluting traffic nightmare rammed through Forest Hills.”

Many left comments on the petition.

“I think a six-lane ground solution will create utter chaos in that area,” wrote Claudia Castaneda of Boston.

“You MUST come and drive through the area everyday between 4-6 p.m. to make a truly clear and real decision. If you do this, you will have your answer immediately!” wrote Mary Ellen Ehrenreich of Roxbury.

State officials will host a walkthrough of the Casey site and public meeting Dec. 13 at Boston English High School Auditorium, 144 McBride St. The site walkthrough begins at the north entrance to the Forest Hills MBTA station at 3 p.m., and the meeting begins at 6 p.m.

yannaro December 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM
So where's the link to the petition?
George P. Zoulalian December 04, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Well we don't want a huge bridge rammed through Jamaica Plain. It is a plan for the '50's and relegates our neighbors to walking in shadow, bird droppings and litter, because who ever thought being under a bridge is an Emerald Necklace. george Z
nancy December 04, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Here is the link! Sign and share! http://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-menino-send-massdot-back-to-the-drawing-board
nancy December 04, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Oh really?! Then you don't know Olmstead. Read and learn: http://forgotten-ny.com/2001/07/bridges-of-central-park-part-1/
Tom Menihan December 04, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The existing bridge is a huge bridge. The replacement would be a smaller, lower bridge; easier to maintain and more attractive.
George P. Zoulalian December 04, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Attractive! A low 4 lane with breakdown lanes and possibly sidewalks is s prescription for desolation, vegataionless, brutality that can't possibly enhance this incredible confluence of history transit, bikes, and pedestrians ...and, oh, by the way, cars. Would they ever build an overpass over Cookege Ciorner or Harvard Square or Fresh Pond? But Jamaica Pkain should tolerate an expressway mentality in the 21ar century? Get your heads on straight and don't listen to these destructive naysayers.
Liz O'Connor December 04, 2012 at 09:00 PM
George, I think you are really overestimating the beautification options which attend a six lane highway. Sit at a red light (on a bike, or waiting for a walk signal, or in your car, take your transit pick) at the corner of Melnea Cass and Mass Ave. That is what we are inviting to Forest Hills. Not to mention the devastating loss of old, beautiful trees in Shea Circle, so we can have, ... oh yeah, MORE PAVEMENT. This entire plan adds more pavement than the bridge would, and will make the entire area congested and ugly. Coolidge Corner and Harvard Square do not serve the same regional transit needs that this area does and if they did, we might want overpasses there as well.
Greg Hunt December 04, 2012 at 09:33 PM
If you want a new bridge, sure, tell Mayor Menino! If you support the current plan, feel free to send an email to Michael.Trepanier@state.ma.us saying that you support the Casey Arborway project (MEPA File #14978), and urge the Secretary to approve this important project without further MEPA review so that MassDOT can take advantage of scarce federal funding under the Accelerated Bridge Project. " (or, you know, if you want a new bridge you can tell MEPA that as well)
Michael Halle December 05, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Hi Liz, I just wanted to address a couple of the points you made. First, Melnea Cass/Mass Ave isn't really comparable to the future Casey Arborway. The character of the two is completely different: Melnea/Mass is highly institutional/heavy industrial with unusual roadway geometries, higher speed traffic and limited pedestrian facilities. More importantly, the traffic counts are significantly higher at Melnea/Mass, and there's a larger amount of left turning traffic. Left turns have a significant negative impact on traffic efficiency -- that's why Boston took out the Melnea to Mass Ave left turn, and why the Casey Arborway has median U-turns. Based on MassDOT historical traffic counts available on-line, the Casey Arborway will carry about as much traffic per day as Mass Ave at Commonwealth Ave, or the Jamaicaway at Perkins St. Busy roads during rush hour to be sure, but hardly urban wastelands. During off-peak hours, the Jamaicaway and Mass Ave@Comm Ave are perfectly pleasant, and I would expect the Casey to be as well (especially with speed control).
steve dudley December 05, 2012 at 01:30 PM
But it's such a magnificent umbrella. Sheltering the huddled masses from the rain and snow, clamoring to be on the 39 bus! And the bridge is a wonderful frame for the scenic vista of the Boston skyline. Don't forget the great views of the summer fireworks from atop the bridge! Sweet! Seems to be a big ole emerald to me!
steve dudley December 05, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Michael, your examples are not comparable to the Forest Hills streets. Check out the traffic morning and night on J way inbound toward Perkins st. There is no left turn or u turn at Perkins and a lot of the traffic , as I do, leave the J way and take Parkman Drive or even turn around and take pond st. The proposed Casey Arborway involves using multiple traffic lights in a short stretch of land with cross streets at all, and far more pedestrian traffic than Perkins and Melnea combined.
Michael Halle December 05, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Hi Steve, To be clear, I didn't say that Mass Ave@Comm Ave or JWay/Perkins were directly comparable to the Casey Arborway in all respects. I said that the traffic *volumes* were comparable. I was responding to Liz's suggestion that we are "inviting to Forest Hills" an intersection like Mass Ave/Melnea Cass Blvd, which is a less appropriate comparison as seen from many different perspectives. Looking for direct comparisons between two sites is always an imperfect task. But to understand what something that does not yet exist would be like, we have to start somewhere, and I'd prefer to start with examples that are at least quantifiably similar in some respect. That would have been true had a bridge design been selected as well, especially because MassDOT's bridge designs were based on the same traffic assumptions and handled the same amount of traffic as the at-grade plan (and both plans handle traffic better than the existing conditions).
steve dudley December 05, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I maintain, as Liz stated that we would be better served to have regional traffic diverted over the congested streets of Forest Hills. A tsunami wave has as much volume as many swimming pools, however they act very differently .
David Friedman December 05, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Modern bridges can be quite beautiful. Airy and elegant. Very different from the one we have now. Let MassDOT put out a call for design ideas. The choice should be between that new bridge, one that responds to concerns about the space below the span, and the surface road. David Friedman David Friedman
Michael Halle December 06, 2012 at 06:06 AM
David, Please pardon the pun, but this bridge was crossed long ago. Thoughtful people made comments like yours well before the bridge/no-bridge decision was made. Ultimately, though, even a fairly utilitarian bridge design that handled traffic volumes about the same as the "no-bridge" plan cost significantly more than the at-grade option. An "elegant, beautiful" bridge would almost certainly have cost more for no demonstrated functional benefit over the competing at-grade option. In several meetings, Jeff Ferris has said that the bridge option could be configured for greater vehicle capacity on the surface streets. I don't know if he still advocates this idea, but such a design would require more traffic evaluation, would reduce greenspace, and would again cost more. My big point here is that there isn't a "just choose a bridge" option. There is no consensus on a single bridge design, even among bridge supporters. And there are many people in JP who support the at-grade option and the ongoing process that is refining it. Advocating a bridge now also means advocating for throwing out two years of public and professional work without any assurance of a better plan or greater consensus, with the only certainty being higher cost. In the meantime, the current span is decaying and will require increasingly costly repairs to try to keep it safe. Meanwhile, there's little neighborhood discussion about construction mitigation....
John December 12, 2012 at 07:22 PM
The aesthetic bias in this debate is pointless; bridge supports believe the at-grade solution to be ugly and that MassDOT can build a beautiful bridge, at-grade supporters believe the bridge solution to be ugly and that MassDOT can build a beautiful parkway, etc. It is all opinion. The engieering shows us both solutions can handle current and future traffic better than the existing system. My apologies to all the arm-chair and windshield engineers commenting here; you have no standing and have not provided anything but opinion. So what's left? Cost; both initial and ongoing. If you want a bridge you need to justify why spending 50% more initially and incurring ongoing expenses is a much better solution.

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