Letter: Suggestions for T station fixes in Casey project

April 26, 2013
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A version of this letter was sent to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation as comment on the Casey Arborway project:

As a longtime Jamaica Plain resident, I strongly support and commend your decision to dismantle the Casey Overpass and replace it with an attractive, functional, at-grade configuration of roads, green spaces and public transit access points.

Unfortunately, a few professional agitators have decided to dedicate all of their time and energy to reversing that decision. As I’m sure you recognize, although their voice is shrill and loud, they represent a distinctly minority point of view in our Jamaica Plain community.

The majority of Jamaica Plain residents agree that removing the ghastly hulk that is the Casey Overpass, and reconfiguring the surface roads to rationalize traffic flows while enhancing pedestrian, bicyclist, mass-transit-user and recreational access, will be a wonderful improvement to the Forest Hills area and to surrounding neighborhoods.

I wish there was a way to put the bridge/no-bridge debate behind us and focus our attention on the actual urban roadway design and traffic management choices that lie before us.

Regarding those choices, I hope you will consider a few observations I offer as a daily pedestrian, bicyclist and mass transit user of the Arborway/Forest Hills interchange.

1.  There need to be physical barriers (high granite curbs, stone and metal vehicle exclusion posts, park benches, stout steel fences, etc.) physically preventing motor vehicles, especially transit police private cars and service vehicles, from driving and parking in dedicated courtyards and green spaces around the Forest Hills Station. To see what happens if vehicles are not physically excluded, just take a look at the mess transit police and service vehicles have made of the brick pedestrian courtyard on the north (Arborway) side of the station.

2.  To be preserved and protected, green spaces should be large and continuous, not narrow and fragmented or sandwiched between lanes of asphalt. Separation strips between lanes of motor vehicle traffic should not be considered “green space” because they cannot be maintained or protected.

3.  There needs to be a kiss-and-ride drop-off point for cars to drop off mass transit users at the Forest Hills MBTA station without impeding the natural flow of traffic.

4.  The existing bike cage at Forest Hills Station is a very valuable improvement and should be preserved. There should be a way for bicycle users to access the cage without crossing heavily used pedestrian pathways. Bike racks outside the cage should be protected from direct rain and snowfall by placement under the eaves and roof overhangs of Forest Hills Station, rather than directly under the drip line, where they are now located.

5.  Bench seats on the commuter rail and MBTA light rail platforms should not be placed directly under air vents, which allow rain, snow and the elements to pass through. Rain, snow and ice passing through air vents directly overhead has made several of the current platform bench seats unusable.

Kevin Handly

Jamaica Plain