Letter: A new ‘Menino Overpass’ could be global landmark

April 12, 2013
By

Over serious neighborhood objections, MassDOT is soon to dismantle the Casey Overpass and dump thousands of vehicles onto the already congested and pedestrian unfriendly streets around Forest Hill station. It promises to reconfigure local streets to tame flows and make it all friendlier for pedestrians and bikers, and gives out numbers saying it will add only 90 seconds to trans-Boston travel (compared to fast ride overhead on the existing bridge). This doesn’t seem real to many citizens.

More readily believable is that it will take five to 10 extra minutes—maybe more—for people in Dorchester and Roxbury to drive to Arnold Arboretum and beyond. Ditto for those in JP, Roslindale and West Roxbury getting to Franklin Park and Dorchester Bay. Boston has multiple peak traffic periods—has this really be thoroughly examined?

The existing Casey Overpass, built in 1953, has deteriorated to the point where MassDOT engineers say it should come down. It could be replaced by a lower and therefore shorter bridge.

Today’s experience of riding the Casey Overpass is dramatic. To one side is Boston Proper. To the other, the green reaches of Roslindale, Hyde Park and the ’burbs. Nestled next to it is the treasure of Arnold Arboretum and important hospitals. Casey is like the dramatic experience when the Red Line rises from its tunnel and passes over the Charles River.

The Casey Overpass is Boston’s own secret driving thrill—a stretch of open road with magnificent views. Forest Hills is clearly an important gateway to our beautiful city. We need to think this through.

We deserve a second opinion. Shouldn’t MassDOT sponsor design competitions to compare a no-bridge version to a new, improved overpass that can, after all, have bike lanes and walkways with dramatic viewing stops? It could use 21st century materials and engineering possibilities. We could bring in renowned architect Jean Nouvel and have it designed to be a world landmark. It could be a great legacy for that son of Hyde Park, Mayor Menino.

Hey, we can name it Menino Overpass!

Larry Fabian

Dorchester