Letter: Casey opposition uses bad history, scare tactic

April 26, 2013

I would like to address two points that are loudly repeated by the proponents of a new Casey Overpass but I believe are misguided.

First of all, I believe proponents of a new Casey Overpass are misreading history by saying that opposition to extending I-95 through JP supports their cause. Both the extension of I-95 and the creation of the Casey Overpass come from the same mid-century mindframe where car was king and regional and loop highways were being planned all around metro Boston. Blocking I-95 through the city was a huge victory, where people and communities won out over cars. Fifty or so years later, a majority of citizens once again stood up to put people and community over cars by tearing down the Casey Overpass and replacing it with improved surface streets, bike lanes and parkland. The idea that we absolutely need a new overpass highway to keep regional traffic out of Forest Hills is a dated mentality that has been proven wrong in cities around the country. We didn’t need I-95 cutting through Forest Hills then, and we don’t need the Casey Overpass now.

Secondly, I believe proponents of a new Casey Overpass are using language as a scare tactic—specifically by saying that MassDOT is building a “new six-lane highway.” I guess it doesn’t sound ominous enough to say, “MassDOT is adding two lanes of traffic to an existing four-lane road.” We already have six lanes of traffic: the two-lane Casey Overpass and the four-lane New Washington Street. The entire debate is about where to put those two lanes of overpass traffic: on a new overpass or on the ground. What MassDOT has decided is to demolish the two-lane overpass and add those lanes to the surface road. So I believe it more accurate to say the “pro-bridge” crowd is in favor of building a two-lane overpass highway, whereas MassDOT is building a six-lane roadway. The term “bridge” was never used for the Casey Overpass because it is just that—an overpass.

I welcome anyone to challenge the way public infrastructure impacts our community, but the peer-reviewed traffic analyses, economics and public support are on the side of the new Casey Arborway.

Greg Hunt

Jamaica Plain