Editorial: The Casey criticism

Bridging Forest Hills, the group opposing the Casey Parkway plan in favor of a new bridge, is engaged in the sort of dubious public process it aims to criticize.

Slanted meetings misleadingly advertised as objective ones. Flyers with a casual treatment of known facts and rhetoric that stirs emotion rather than marshaling evidence. It’s not the right way to do things.

It’s true that MassDOT began the Casey Overpass replacement planning with a disregard for public input and a surface street bias.

It’s also true that the only reason for that bias is to spend vastly fewer state funds, both short- and long-term. And even then, the state had to make its case. MassDOT changed its ways, holding numerous meetings attended by hundreds of people and covered blow-by-blow in this paper. It issued a traffic study and an air-quality study and answered every question submitted to it in writing. MassDOT did everything the community asked of it.

Disliking an answer is not the same as not getting one. MassDOT answers were clear: New streets or a new bridge would work about the same. Either would work better than the existing disaster area. New streets would be cheaper and allow for more amenities.

In dissecting MassDOT’s findings, critics (and the press) have found only quibbles, not smoking guns. Bridging Forest Hills is rooted in a crucial concern about community traffic impacts, but the existing evidence does not bear out its fears, nor has the group proffered any significant new information.

If MassDOT is not to be trusted now, why should it be trusted to build a new, avant-garde bridge, either? No one else is going to replace a state bridge. If the answer is to leave the rotting Casey Overpass as-is, that is a disservice to the community and to state coffers.

Casey critics have contributed enormously to the process so far and, individually, are skilled in giving input even when they do not fully agree with the present course. Bridging Forest Hills should reflect their sense of responsibility. If there is a pro-bridge, anti-surface-street case to be made, it should adhere to the standards we all rightly demanded of MassDOT itself.

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