Letter: Surface option resurrects park

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.

Herb Nolan


1 comment for “Letter: Surface option resurrects park

  1. Jeffrey Ferris
    December 2, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Thank you goes to Herb
    Nolan, highly respected landscape architect and parks advocate, for attending
    and weighing in on the Casey Overpass issue.  However, I strongly question some of his statements.

    What was presented was not
    thorough or even a design.  These
    are concepts plans to help MassDOT deside whether to design a bridge or
    no-bridge.  Many elements including
    numbers of trees and actual alignment are subject to change in the design

    It was not thorough because
    they did not do a concept plan with the goal of actually improving traffic
    patterns at Forest Hills.  This is
    why the traffic moves comparably with the 2 plans presented.  If Mr. Nolan wants to recall Olmsted’s
    visions, a bridge certainly allows for a more seamless flow of traffic.  The bridge also builds on his concept
    of separating modes.

    The park advocates including
    the Emerald Necklace Conservancy were opposed to a new bridge at Forest Hills
    before ever looking at the swath of asphalt that MassDOT has presented with no
    bridge.  Their view is based
    entirely on the notion that viaduct bridges are bad, never once considering its
    benefit here.  How can anyone say
    that this sea of asphalt improves access or livability.  The bridge option was actually shown to
    create more open space.

    Both options allow for
    fabulous reconnections for the Emerald Necklace and planting of many new
    trees.  I certainly support Mr.
    Nolan’s call for a higher commitment for the trees from MassDOT.  There has been a very low survival rate
    of new trees planted along JP’s parkways over the last few years.

    This decision should be
    based on how all modes of traffic flow here, not the park amenities.  The parks will be improved with either
    plan.  The bridge option allows the
    best flow for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to and from the parks and

    Jeffrey Ferris
    Ferris Wheels Bike Shop,
    Jamaica Plain


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