MEPA Casey decision comes today

January 18, 2013
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The state Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office review of the expected environmental impacts resulting from the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Casey Arborway project is expected to be released today, Fri., Jan. 18.

The MEPA review will decide if the project requires a more in-depth analysis called an environmental impact report (EIR) or if can proceed as proposed. It was expected to be issued today, MEPA analyst Holly Johnson told the Gazette.

MEPA will likely have the review certificate posted online by Tues., Jan. 22, at its website, mass.gov/eea/agencies/mepa/.

Supporters of the current at-grade street network would prefer that an EIR is not issued, keeping the project moving apace. Supporters of re-starting the project in favor of a replacement bridge would prefer that an EIR is issued, which would likely delay the project beyond its funding deadline.

The core opposition, a group called Bridging Forest Hills (BFH), prepared a fifty-page opposition packet, outlining nine issues with the state’s process in general and five issues specific to the MEPA filing.

Most of the outlined complaints have been mentioned previously, including the quality and transparency of the process and of MassDOT’s data.

Also included among the complaints was the lack of comparison between expected levels of safety in the selected at-grade alternative and the discarded replacement bridge option during the planning stages.

According to BFH organizers Kevin Moloney and Jeffrey Ferris, BFH has submitted 200 postcards to Mayor Thomas Menino, asking him to push for restarting the project. BFH has also created a petition, also addressed to Menino, that asks for the same. That petition has over 400 signatures on change.org.

The opposition packet has a cover illustration of Emerald Necklace designer Frederick Law Olmsted with a word balloon reading, “I (heart) Bridges.”

If the project does not require further MEPA review, a MassDOT public hearing will update the community on the current 25 percent complete state of the design, likely in the first week of February.

MEPA review was triggered because the project would cut down nine trees of 14 or more inches in diameter at chest height, as well as more than 80 smaller trees. A total of 190 new trees would replace them.

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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