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No Traffic Difference Between Forest Hills Plans, Officials Say

State officials said, somewhat to their surprise, that traffic flow was equal under the two remaining proposals for life after the Casey Overpass is torn down: rebuild a two-lane bridge or keep everything at ground level.

On Monday, transportation officials said traffic is not appreciably different under the two scenarios for Forest Hills in the post-Casey Overpass era.

Pressed by the audience for how that could possibly be true, engineers said the new traffic flow under the "at-grade" plan would stop cars less often because of the U-turns that will replace left turns through the intersections at South/Arborway/New Washington and Hyde Park Avenue/New Washington.

Still, the at-grade solution adds 30 to 90 seconds to the ride from Murray Circle to Shea Circle, officials said.

There is a major cost difference between the plans:

  • Bridge: $72.7 million
  • At-grade: $52.4 million

According to the Gazette, groups supporting the at-grade solution plan to meet Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at the State Labs, 305 South St. The state has asked the interest groups in the Working Advisory Group to submit a final list of pros and cons to both plans.

Of those present in the overflowing State Labs auditorium Monday, 15 of those who asked questions or made comments clearly supported the at-grade plan. Eleven people's questions or comments clearly showed they support a bridge. Others who spoke could not be clearly put into one camp or the other.

The state is accepting email comments on which option people prefer, though time is running out. Email john.romano@state.ma.us.

Visit the JP Patch Casey Overpass topic page for full coverage of this important neighborhood issue.

[Editor's note: The attached draft maps are easier to read and study if you download them yourself at the document center of the state's Casey Overpass Web site. The site also has a wealth of materials about the project.]

Michael Halle November 24, 2011 at 04:39 AM
I interpreted the answer to your question about the Arborway U-turns as saying that turning radii are typically shown first at 25%, not that the analysis hasn't been done or that they want to hide it. Both plans have scores of such details (e.g., "how big to the columns of the bridge have to be to support the structure?"). I wouldn't expect a public in-depth analysis of those details at this point either; that doesn't mean I doubt that the team has the expertise to propose a functional plan. That said, should there be an issue, there is flexibility in U-turn location. Also, any vehicle that for whatever reason couldn't make the turn could use Ukraine Way. Since commercial vehicles are excluded from using the Arborway, only the routes to and from Roslindale would be affected by the U turn (by my review of the plans, at least). Buses would need to make the U turn frequently, but they have a smaller turning radius and could potentially be treated specially for left turns. There's also the broader question, though. If you don't trust the "breezy assurances" of MassDOT about the at-grade option, how do you know you can trust the bridge design either? It's a significant change from the current conditions after all. Can you trust you don't need three or four lanes on the bridge? Or more turn lanes? With hard funding deadlines driving this essential project, decisions might be required before everyone is fully comfortable with them, unfortunately.
Michael Halle November 24, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Ken, the memo on current conditions and traffic estimates can be found here: http://app1.massdot.state.ma.us/CaseyOverpass/downloads/Casey_Traffic1_092211.pdf Discussion of local parcels starts around page 9.
Pete Stidman December 01, 2011 at 06:10 PM
I would like to comment on the idea expressed by a couple of people above that this process was somehow flawed or did not allow time for questions. This last public meeting was in fact the 6th public meeting and there were 12 WAG meetings—many of which I personally attended. Relatively speaking, this is probably the largest number of meetings I've seen on any project in Jamaica Plain and perhaps the city—the only rival I can think of being the redesign of an entire neighborhood in Columbia Point that ended up being moot after some property sales. Every meeting's minutes and presentation and supporting documents have been posted at http://app1.massdot.state.ma.us/CaseyOverpass/ for everyone to see, and the consultant team has faithfully answered everyone's questions, including all of the commenters above. Frankly I think questioning the process, which has been excellent, is a non-starter. We've had an excellent and balanced discussion with rich sources of information. The community has weighed in and that "popularity contest" (a.k.a. democracy) should be counted as well. I look forward to working with everyone to craft whichever solution is chosen by MassDOT into one that works best for the greatest number of users possible.
Stuart Horner December 02, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Does anyone have a timeline for this project? Bid dates etc? Thank you
Chris Helms December 02, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Hi Stuart, there was a very general slide at the last meeting about years and design phases, but I don't recall anything as specific as a bid date. Can't find a link to that slide, but maybe others on the thread can help.

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