In recent weeks many questions and concerns have arisen regarding the Working Advisory Group process about the Casey Overpass in Jamaica Plain. There is a growing consensus within the affected communities and among the WAG participants that the process was defective, being neither inclusive nor transparent. Voices from the auto, rail and bus commuters were not invited to the table. The impacted communities of Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Milton, the Boston medical area and Roxbury were either underrepresented or not invited to the table. MassDOT offered only two choices to the WAG. Both choices were developed using incomplete information and lacked consideration for pedestrian, bicyclist and commuter safety, and did not address local environmental and economic impacts or overall transit impact.
The Casey-Forest Hills area hosts a large residential and business community, as well as serving the City of Boston and the Commonwealth as a major transit hub. The area is used by upwards of 36,000 automobile commuters and 15,000 public transit riders during the average weekday. In addition there are many who come to Forest Hills to ride school buses, or pass through to the Longwood Medical Area. Others have business at the district courthouse, the Arborway bus yard or in the small businesses that line South Street, Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street.
What this area needs is not a superficial, expedited solution that pits interest groups against each other, but a robust, 21st century, transit-oriented development plan that restores quality of life to the surrounding neighborhoods, celebrates our green spaces and improves public and private transit and safety for all its stakeholders.
MassDOT would be well served to remember the dedication and tenacity of this area’s residents to protecting their community and quality of life. The State Police did not get to slice off a piece of the Arboretum for their crime lab and the state did not get its 1-95 extension through Milton and Jamaica Plain. When the folks affected by MassDOT’s plan finally pay attention….
Barbara Gibson, Jamaica Plain