I had the privilege of attending the Nov. 21 public meeting on the Casey Overpass and was impressed with the thorough design exploration and well-reasoned alternatives. There is no doubt in my mind that, on access and livability criteria alone, the at-grade solution is far superior to a replacement bridge. When you add in the premium cost of building and maintaining a new bridge, the decision becomes obvious.
We must acknowledge, however, the legitimate concern of those who fear that a six-lane roadway touching down in the heart of the neighborhood will be out of scale. The helpful perspective sketches promise green lawns and mature trees lining the travel ways. If well-established and maintained, these lawns and trees will in time mitigate the visual impact of wide boulevards and reestablish the park character of this missing link in the Emerald Necklace. To deliver on that promise MassDOT should substantially increase the budget for street trees above what is normally set aside. This will ensure better tree specimens, proper planting conditions and extended care. In this way they can deliver on the promise and ensure that this long-lost part of the Emerald Necklace will remain green for years to come.
Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of the Emerald Necklace, firmly believed that one could balance the needs of transportation and parks and weave them together seamlessly. MassDOT is attempting to do this for the Casey Overpass area and should be commended.