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Should 1950s-Era Overpasses Come Down?

The state is deciding if other Boston neighborhoods will get the treatment Jamaica Plain is receiving — tearing down 1950s-era overpasses in favor of surface roads.

Urban planners no longer love the idea of putting elevated roadways through urban centers.

Even so, the state plans to spend millions of dollars shoring up two such overpasses — the McCarthy Overpass in Somerville, which carries the McGrath Highway, and the Bowker Overpass in Back Bay and Kenmore Square, which carries Storrow drive into Fenway — while they decide whether to tear them down and replace them with surface roads.

Globe transportation reporter Eric Moskowitz recently surveyed urban planners, politicians and highway officials on the costs versus benefits of elevated roadways. 

Many agreed that all eyes are watching the Casey Overpass project in JP, where one such 1950s-era overpass is being razed and replaced with surface roads. If that design moves traffic and people smoothly, it could pave the way for the demise of the McCarthy and Bowker overpasses.

Here is the Globe's full story (May require subscription to read full article.)

Jessica Mink August 27, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I'm one of many people who commute from south of Forest Hills to north of Forest Hills, and I am not looking forward to the Casey Overpass coming down. I've been to most of the public meetings since the start of the "process" and am a member of the Design Advisory Group for the project, and believe that the traffic models show that delays when traveling north-south will increase significantly. Several advocacy groups (and it looks like MassDoT, as well) are treating the Casey Overpass to other bridge removals without really looking at what we will loose as well as what they think we will gain. Unlike the other cases, out bridge currently does not block north-south access at all, while the others do. An at-grade 6-lane road, which I think will be needed to handle traffic to enable traffic light times to be set to reasonable pedestrian crossing, will be a much bigger barrier than the existing condition.
frankly mr.shankly August 28, 2012 at 02:19 AM
does not currently block north/south access? I also commute from south of forest hills - if you live closer to rozzie square and are driving I'd recommend going around the other side of the aboretum - it's a lot faster. The current traffic problems are due entirely to the signal timing for cars entering and exiting the on-ramps. If I'm getting off the arborway heading south on washington street I can wait up to 10 minutes just to get through forest hills. I also bike through there pretty regularly, and am really looking forward to the new segregated bike between ukraine way and south street - biking through there currently is pretty scary - especially heading south during the evening commute. also - it should be 4 lanes. absolutely no reason why there should be 6 lanes here. you'll end up with induced demand and more traffic. better to squeeze traffic and encourage people to go different routes.
Max White August 30, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I don't see how taking down the overpass will improve traffic. The real question is how can we improve the Forest Hills neighborhood, and traffic is a consideration in that matter. Even an at-grade model will prove cumbersome for pedestrian crossing. It will look nicer than an overpass, but functionally it will be more difficult to cross 203 by bike or foot than it is now. There's no reason a dedicated bike lane can't be added without getting rid of the overpass. Isn't this matter entirely settled, according to MASSDOT?

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