39 bus to move for Casey project

FOREST HILLS—The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Casey Arborway design team proposed relocating the 39 bus stop and adding a left-turn lane to the new Shea Square during its Oct. 1 Design Advisory Group (DAG) meeting.

The state team also presented possible mitigation measures for the Asticou neighborhood, which is located immediately adjacent to the project area.

One of the proposed changes includes relocating the 39 bus stop from its current location along New Washington Street, where it would require special signalization and traffic layouts in the new street network, to the upper busway, where most of the buses that serve Forest Hills station already stop. The upper busway is located along Washington Street on the western side of Forest Hills station.

Taxis would be relocated from various small curbside spaces on Washington Street to a central, large taxi stand on the new Casey Arborway.

The upper busway is planned to be expanded significantly as part of the Casey project.

“We think the better-balanced design is to permanently move the 39 bus to the upper busway,” design team member Paul Godfrey said at the meeting.

According to Godfrey, the MBTA has informed the decision. Dan Weber, an MBTA representative at the meeting, said the 39 currently “isn’t in the best location.”

While stopping at the upper busway would lengthen the 39’s route, the design team said that it shouldn’t lengthen the time it takes to cover that route by more than a few seconds.

“It’ll actually save eight seconds” during the morning rush, Godfrey said.

The planned pick-up and drop-off area on Washington Street, previously meant to be shared between taxis and commuters, will now be reserved for commuters. That area has room for approximately 32 cars, though that number has not been finalized.

Community DAG members were split on the change, with some supporting the move and some, including the transit advocacy group Arborway Committee,  adamantly rejecting it.

Another proposed change would alter Shea Square, the redesigned Shea Circle at the eastern end of the Casey overpass. Instead of one 26-foot, east-bound left-turn lane, the design team proposed altering the layout to two, shorter lanes to allow more cars to turn onto Circuit Drive.

Circuit Drive would then be a two-lane road until the cars could merge back into one lane. That change would significantly improve the whole intersection’s efficiency, the design team said.

The change would only lengthen the pedestrian Arborway crossing by three feet. The design team altered the median to accommodate most of an extra lane’s width.

The design team also brought images to suggest possible mitigation issues for the Asticou neighborhood. As part of the upper busway’s expansion, its exit will be moved slightly south, directly opposite Asticou Road. The neighbors want mitigation measures to deal with bus headlights and noise.

More changes are expected to be announced at the Oct. 29 DAG meeting.

The design process is expected to last until Oct. 2013, with at least eight DAG meetings occurring in that period.

The Casey Arborway, an at-grade surface street network, will replace the crumbling Casey Overpass. The Casey Overpass is the State Route 203 bridge over Washington Street at the Forest Hills T Station.

The state Casey project website is massdot.state.ma.us/caseyoverpass.

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