Casey Overpass demo planning begins

March 18, 2011
By
FOREST HILLS—With hardly a word to the public, the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) this week began a community process for the demolition and possible replacement of the Casey Overpass—a project that is scheduled to start next year.  

MassDOT officials did not respond to Gazette requests for details about the process, but Asticou Road resident Bernie Doherty told the Gazette this week that he was named to a community working group for the project.

He said he expects MassDOT to run a transparent process and “fully include community input” in the demolition and rebuilding process. MassDOT plans to host working group meetings and full community meetings over the next six months. The first community meeting is scheduled for April 6. [See JP Agenda.]

Doherty said he did not all the names of people who had been appointed to the working group, but that area activist Henry Allen is in the group, as is a representative from the non-profit Emerald Necklace Conservancy (ENC).

ENC Executive Director Julie Crockford told the Gazette the conservancy was offered a position in the group. “We are delighted that the conservancy will be at the table for the planning, and able to contribute,” she said, “And so will the public. [MassDOT] made it clear that all the meeting will be public.”

Allen did not respond to Gazette phone calls requesting comment by press time.

The group was scheduled to have its first meeting March 16, after the Gazette deadline, Doherty and Crockford said.

Crockford said that the lack of publicity for the first meeting might be because MassDOT was in a hurry. She learned of her appointment to the working group in a March 7 letter, and only learned that the meeting date had been confirmed this week, she said.

MassDOT spokesperson Richard Nangle previously told the Gazette the working group would evaluate options for the post-demolition future of the area—possibly including a new overpass or surface roads connecting the Arborway through the area.

Doherty said he is in favor of a new overpass, possibly with pedestrian and bike access.

The other option is replacing the overpass with reconfigured surface roads. “I just can’t envision it,” Doherty said, noting that the area is a major thoroughfare for commuters from southern suburbs heading to Allston/Brighton and Cambridge.

He said he is hopeful the working group will actively engage with MassDOT and contractors working on the project about things like work hours, staging and how traffic flow through the area will be managed during the massive project.

Doherty has been among those advocating for a community process for the overpass project since the Gazette first reported on it last September.

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