Casey design plans move forward

June 7, 2013
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The state Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Casey Arborway project design team has dismissed the notion of an “opening year” variation, while it continues to discuss the possibility of adding off-peak left-hand turns on the Arborway.

There is also the possibility of moving the MBTA Forest Hills station’s upper busway by a few feet to better accommodate residents of the Asticou/Martinwood neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the state approved the funding for a high-power snowplow to ensure that the off-street bike paths in the new corridor will be kept operational during inclement weather.

Originally proposed last June, the “opening year” variation of the design would greatly reduce pavement by removing one to two traffic lanes in the corridor. The idea was that projected 2016 traffic levels would be lower enough than 2035 levels that the alteration would not impede traffic while creating a reduction of up to 22 feet of pavement for pedestrians to cross.

“A determination has been made that all of the lane capacity will be necessary for the opening year vehicular volume,” MassDOT spokesperson Michael Verseckes told the Gazette. “The only alterations necessary [to accommodate 2035 traffic] will be adjustments to the timing of signals.”

Under the current design, the upper busway would be expanded and moved in such a way that its exit would be located directly opposite Asticou Road. Exiting buses would shine their lights all the way up that street, potentially affecting dozens of residents with their light and noise pollution.

The relocation would alleviate the worst of the impact.

Meanwhile, the Boston Cyclists Union (BCU) has been pushing for a heavy-duty snowplow that can handle large snowdrifts to keep the planned off-street bike paths clear and usable during the winter.

MassDOT approved funding the purchase of a Trackless brand snowplow and also a truck with a plow attachment, a combined purchase of around $100,000, to be used by DCR crews in maintaining the new bike paths, Verseckes said. The cost will be included as part of the Casey project, he added.

DCR will be in charge of clearing the new bike paths, as they will be located in the expanded Southwest Corridor Park, a DCR property.

The Casey Overpass is the State Route 203 bridge over Washington Street and Hyde Park Avenue at the Forest Hills T Station. The aging bridge must be demolished and will be replace with new surface streets starting next year. The project website is massdot.state.ma.us/caseyoverpass.