WAG brainstorms public spaces

FOREST HILLS—The Working Advisory Group (WAG) for the Casey Overpass replacement project has started brainstorming the pedestrian areas surrounding the future overpass replacement.

At the Aug. 17 meeting, WAG members brainstormed on possible elements of the final design on either side of New Washington Street and around Shea Circle. Suggestions included a dog park; fountains; a skate park; and designated space for street vendors, a farmers’ market and food trucks.

The Monsignor William J. Casey Overpass is the elevated section of Route 203 over Washington and South streets, next to the Forest Hills MBTA Station. Shea Circle is the rotary at the eastern end of the overpass.

The four alternatives presented at the last WAG meeting will be discussed in another meeting this month in preparation for a community meeting Sept. 13.

The design team spent almost an hour discussing different types of overpass construction to educate the WAG on possibilities.

WAG members asked questions about the look, functionality and drawbacks to different types of overpass, like height constraints and projected shadows and how those aspects would impact the at-grade design of pedestrian areas.

A possible replacement bridge could be as much as 40 percent shorter than the current 1,600-foot-long overpass, allowing for different materials and design.

The design team also presented two national examples of urban rejuvenation after the removal of an overpass, from Milwaukee, Wis. and San Francisco, Calif. In both cases, the WAG was impressed by the revitalization of the area.

The proposed bus facility is adjacent to the overpass. A last-minute design change announced last month raised hopes at the last WAG meeting that there would be more overpass space. But the design change won’t have any impact on the overpass project, state officials say.

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