Letter: Traffic calming should be part of overpass project

As advocates and residents who care deeply about the future of the Forest Hills area, we believe that our neighborhood streets are a vital element of a vibrant community. Every day, though, we see on those streets the unwanted impact of poor driver behavior, including increased commuter traffic, unsafe vehicle speeds and driver inattention to pedestrians.

This lack of respect by drivers affects the quality of neighborhood life, the integrity of neighborhood bonds, and the safety of residents and visitors. A family visiting a tot lot, a child crossing the street to go to school, or an older couple out for an evening stroll should not have to walk in fear.

The Casey Overpass replacement project, the subject of much discussion and debate, has the potential to exacerbate these problems during its different stages of demolition, construction and future operations. The resulting disruption to residential life is independent of the choice between the at-grade or bridge alternatives.

To address these current and likely future problems, we ask that the City of Boston undertake a comprehensive traffic-calming design and implementation project in the neighborhoods adjacent to or near the Casey Overpass, working in coordination with Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s ongoing planning.

Traffic calming augments traditional traffic control methods such as signage and police enforcement with engineering-based solutions designed to self-enforce the rules of the road, increase pedestrian visibility and reduce vehicle speeds. Traffic-calming methods range from quick and inexpensive roadway changes to more involved modifications to intersections, curbs and sidewalks. Comprehensive traffic calming engages the community to choose solutions that enhance the unique character of each neighborhood street.

Traffic calming in the Forest Hills area would go beyond simply mitigating the negative impacts of traffic diversion during the overpass demolition and replacement construction. It would also permanently improve driver behavior on neighborhood streets, deter excessive cut-through traffic, and enhance the livability of the communities near the Casey Overpass now, during construction and well into the future.

MassDOT should join the City as a partner in this effort by designating Casey Overpass traffic mitigation resources to be used as part of this comprehensive traffic plan.

We are prepared to work closely with the City and the entire community to make this project a success. Let us look beyond any differences we may have about the future of the Casey Overpass and commit to making our neighborhoods safer, healthier and more livable.

Frederick Vetterlein, Stony Brook Neighborhood Association

Michael Halle, Boston Police E-13 Traffic and Parking Committee

Julie Crockford, Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Wendy Landman, WalkBoston

Kevin Wolfson, Livable Streets

Pete Stidman, Boston Cyclists Union

Christine Poff, Franklin Park Coalition

Bob Dizon, JP Bikes

Don Eunson, WAG

Sarah Freeman, WAG

Jody Burr, WAG

Emily Wheelwright, WAG


1 comment for “Letter: Traffic calming should be part of overpass project

  1. Barbara Gibson
    February 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

     While I applaud you and your colleagues for your  green space advocacy, you have been misled if you think that “poor driver behavior, increased
    commuter traffic, unsafe vehicle speeds and driver inattention to
    pedestrians” will be  mitigated by an at grade solution.   To begin with, the traffic model shown the WAG, did not model vehicle size nor the impact of traffic on any of the adjacent side streets.  In addition, the oft sited at grade solutions in New York and California are different.  In these cases the traffic had alternative parallel routes.  Rte 203 is the ONLY arterial connecting Mattapan, Blue Hill, Hyde Park and Milton to Longwood medical area, one of the 2 largest employers in Boston.

    Unfortunately the “at grade” solution currently on the table by Mass DOT will not calm the traffic, but divert it into the adjacent neighborhood streets. Pedestrians will J walk because the wait becomes ridiculous and traffic blocks the intersection.  Bicyclists will take their life in their hands dodging double parked cars loading and unloading passengers blocking bike lanes because there is no longer any drop off parking.  Folks have to get to work.  Mass transit is inadequate, bikes don’t work well in rain and snow, school children ride buses and it’s too far to walk to work for many of the 36,000 daily commuters. 

    The at grade design exacerbates the problems you list in your letter.  There would be no traffic calming, rather the opposite. Pedestrians, bicyclists, children would all be put at risk. 

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