Perhaps MassDOT believes it is now beyond needing credibility to execute its vision for the Casey Arborway project. Why else would it present an altered design in a community meeting—without mentioning the alteration?
The addition of the so-called seventh lane—actually a partial left-turn lane—to the design feeds criticism that the planning is insular and ad hoc. For people who believe the Casey Arborway is the highway to hell, this is a .44 Magnum smoking gun.
The Casey process has spawned some unrealistic expectations, such as the idea that road engineering should be conducted by public vote. But it’s just common courtesy to expect MassDOT to point out a significant alteration in a controversial design.
The Casey Arborway is not going to be as good as its supporters imagine and it is not going to be as bad as its critics fear. But there is a lot of leeway between those poles. MassDOT needs public input to head in the right direction, and it needs baseline trust to get that input.
Being straight with the public is more important than any design.