Letter: Replace overpass with streets

October 7, 2011
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Over the last five months of meetings about the future of the Casey Overpass site, I have come to recognize this project’s enormous potential to transform the area for the better, and I have become increasingly convinced that a street-level solution would be the best outcome for the entire community. As a member of the Working Advisory Group, I take seriously my commitment to listen to all perspectives and weigh the pros and cons of each option. The WAG and the public have rightfully expressed concern about the traffic in and around Forest Hills. Fortunately, MassDOT has performed thorough traffic analyses of all of the alternatives, and all options are able to accommodate the projections of 2035 traffic—even when those projections conservatively assume high rates of driving.

A street-level solution would promote local development, both commercial and residential. It would encourage neighbors to walk and bike, allowing us to meet each other more frequently and build relationships across what is now a great concrete divide. Examples from around the country show us that when cities are farsighted enough to replace their overpasses with ground streets, the results are astounding. Neighborhoods flourish, business booms, park spaces are actually used. A street-level solution is also cheaper, which means that there is potentially more money available for the little details that will make the project really shine.

This is an incredible opportunity for our neighborhood—a chance for us to envision our future and to create a more cohesive, livelier, greener, friendlier Forest Hills. Let’s not allow another overpass to be built through our neighborhood. It is time to start thinking about what we want our neighborhood to look like for our children and grandchildren. I encourage everyone to look at the graphics, presented on page 7 of the Sept. 13 “Exhibit Boards” on the MassDOT website, web.massdot.net/CaseyOverpass/Meetings.html. This is what our neighborhood could be.

Emily Wheelwright, Jamaica Plain

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