Letter: Councilor O'Malley on Casey Overpass

The Casey Overpass is coming down in the Forest Hills area. West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain's District Councilor Matt O'Malley lays out his concerns and thoughts in letter to Massachusetts Department of Transportation.


The attached letter is from District 6 Boston City Councilor Matt O'Malley, representing West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, about the planned demolition of the Casey Overpass in the Forest Hills area.

This is a very tenuous topic as several neighborhoods will be impacted by the Casey Overpass changes as Forest Hills is a local transportation hub being the last stop on the Orangle Line. Many MBTA buses also start or end their routes from the location.  

Read more on Jamaica Plain Patch about the Casey Overpass, public meetings held and plans that will change the area.

Pete Stidman March 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Sincere thanks to Matt O'Malley for working to make this plan one that will benefit everyone. It is clear that his requests are directly related to the concerns of those that supported the bridge and they are also questions that are very important to us at the Boston Cyclists Union. In my work on this project I have had the opportunity to get to know a handful of businesspeople along Hyde Park Avenue, and they are very excited about the prospect of what removing the bridge can do for their business. But they rightly have a concern over what impact the construction will have on their business. One suggestion I have heard directly from them is a property tax holiday for those closest to the project to help defray the impact, and also to ensure they are there in 2016 when construction ends to reap the benefits of a more walkable and bikeable neighborhood. These small businesses are part of our community, and we should safeguard them as much as possible and help ensure there is no changeover during this traffic disruption.
Chris Helms March 14, 2012 at 05:22 PM
That's very interesting about the property tax holiday, Pete. I wonder what was done for businesses, if anything, in similar situations. Did North End merchants get any help during the Big Dig?
Anne McKinnon March 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Too bad O'Malley has either been sucked into the "don't confuse me with facts" argument or is so uniformed that he is ignoring the very serious design issues he needs to focus on before anyone will be developing construction management plans. Or maybe he's checking out of that the way he checked out of the planning process. Matt, would you please explain the MOE on usable open space or commercial property values to me?
Fontaine's Right Wing March 14, 2012 at 08:38 PM
ahem...The slimmed down bridge plan INCLUDES a bike lane on the bridge. See the plan on page 16, the legend indicates the red line is an on-street bike lane, so just zoom in to the bridge and see the bike lane on the bridge. http://app1.massdot.state.ma.us/CaseyOverpass/downloads/alternative_renderings.pdf Jeffrey Ferris of Ferris Wheels Bike Shop is a huge local advocate FOR the bridge. He would never support a bridge without bike lanes. http://vimeo.com/33804310 The "bow tie" U-turns are the worst part of the no-bridge design. The traffic engineers couldn't get the traffic numbers to work with normal left turn arrows. So left turns are NOT allowed. You'll have to drive past where you'd take a left then U-turn back and take a right. So if you're driving from Morton Street or Franklin Park to the Dogwood Café, a driver would 1) cross at the first signalized bowtie 2) cross at the Washington Street signal 3) cross at South Street 4) cross at the second signalized bowtie to reverse direction 5) cross at South Street again (!) and 6) finally make a right turn onto Washington Street/Hyde Park Avenue. But they say the no-bridge will help local business!!? Route 203 IS designed to handle traffic around the Arboretum. These 4 lights and the removed rotary light will divert traffic over to Egleston Square (already gridlocked), Rossi Square and West Roxbury Parkway. It would be nice to have a City Councilor with our transportation interests in mind.
Michael Halle March 14, 2012 at 09:17 PM
To clear up this "bike lane on the bridge" question: bridges need to have a minimum width for the roadway to allow emergency vehicles to pass. You might think of the extra width beyond the travel lane as a roadway shoulder. In that extra space, a bike lane could be painted. It's not especially wide and it's not protected or separated from traffic. It also doesn't connect roadways at either end of the bridge that currently have bike facilities, and crossing the entrance/exit ramps of the bridge would be about as hard as it is now. Also, as proposed, there was no sidewalk on the bridge. WAG members expressed general (but not unanimous) preference for a narrow, low bridge should one be built and acknowledged that relatively few people walked or rode across the bridge to begin with. I don't want to speak for Jeff, but he was clear in the advisory group meetings and is clear in the linked video that he wanted a bridge that had bike and pedestrian facilities and that was more attractive of "iconic" than the now-rejected bridge proposal. There's nothing inherently wrong with those goals, but they weren't part of the plan, they would have increased the bridge cost, and they would have had to have been reconciled with the desire for a narrow, low bridge.


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