Letter: Backing a bridge in Forest Hills

December 2, 2011
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In your last edition, you published local business owner and avid bicyclist Jeffrey Ferris’s letter supporting a bridge solution over the at-grade solution now being pushed by MassDOT as a replacement for the Casey Overpass in Forest Hills. I would like to build upon that.

A bridge solution will keep traffic on the ground to a minimum. It will allow for one-third fewer lanes to have to cross at intersections. The smaller footprint will allow for a greater swath of parkland to connect the Arboretum to Franklin Park. It will allow much easier access to all businesses in and around Forest Hills. Remember, a new overpass will be shorter, lower and about half the width of the current structure. If designed properly, it could be a landmark, a gateway to the city, a thing of beauty, an integral piece of the Forest Hills neighborhood. Most importantly, it will provide safety and accessibility to the thousands of people who use the transportation infrastructure of Forest Hills every day.

The at-grade solution would be a nightmare for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Twenty-four-thousand-plus extra cars every day would be dropped onto the surface road. Add to that the huge number of vehicles forced to drive to the far end of the corridor to make U-turns, doubling back through the corridor in order to accommodate the “no left turn” rule, adding congestion, air pollution and peril to New Washington Street. Since no vehicles along New Washington Street will be able to make left turns, customers and delivery vehicles will have to go through contortions to get to local businesses. It would impose upon us a vast landscape of asphalt; in what way is this considered connecting the parks? MassDOT says the at-grade design can handle the traffic. Does that mean that we want that amount of traffic on the street level? I think not.

It would seem that bridge opponents simply don’t like bridges. They view them as impediments, but bridges serve a purpose. When we first met to start this community process, we were told not to consider costs, just to find the best solution to replacing the Casey Overpass. I honestly believe that a beautifully designed, shorter, lower, smaller bridge is the key to making Forest Hills a more pleasant, safer and more vibrant place to live, travel and shop.

David Hannon

Casey Overpass Working Advisory Group

Jamaica Plain

 

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