It is time for the state Department of Transportation to publicly announce a Casey Overpass replacement plan and then carry it out forthwith.
MassDOT followed our advice in December to delay its decision until after the holidays so the community could have discussion and debate.
That debate has occurred and it is time to move on. State Rep. Liz Malia and many sharp-minded residents have vetted the proposals admirably. Now, words of support have become an echo chamber, and criticisms aim to make the perfect the enemy of the good. MassDOT appears to be hiding more than deliberating.
There is no doubt that MassDOT began its planning in secret and with a surface-street-option bias. But MassDOT then conducted an obsessively thorough, well-attended public process, and backed up its preference with a traffic study.
After 10 weeks of debate, that traffic study still holds water. The one new piece of information is an independent review that found the study adheres pretty well to industry standards. Those standards may themselves have issues, but everything in the state is built to them, and JP is not going to be an exception.
The study says that a surface option or a new bridge will both handle traffic about the same, and both will be better than the current set-up. Community response remains divided. We continue to support the surface option for many attractive features and a cheaper price.
Whatever MassDOT’s decision (and we believe that decision has already been made), it needs to come out of its bunker and say it. JP deserves its promised meeting to announce the plan. One side or another will be very unhappy. But that public relationship must be maintained for the demolition and construction planning that will follow. In fact, construction detours could present bigger challenges to the community than any final project.
MassDOT certainly should not let a rotting bridge and a patchwork street system stand forever in Forest Hills. Let’s start the work.