Casey design nearing completion

July 19, 2013
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The state Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Casey Arborway project’s design is almost complete in preparation for being advertised to contractors in the fall. Demolition is slated to begin in the spring.

The final Plans, Specifications and Cost Estimate (PS&E) documents, used when advertising a project, are expected to be completed in late August or early September, team member Paul Godfrey said during a community meeting on July 11. That meeting was a required community meeting, intended to provide an update on design and create an opportunity for community members to have their questions answered by the project team.

The Casey Overpass will start being shut down for traffic next summer, with total closure by next fall. Demolition and traffic re-routing in the area is expected by the spring. Construction is expected to be complete by fall 2016.

“Yes, [construction] will be messy, but we’re working on minimizing the inconvenience,” Godfrey said.

The project’s community advisory group can expect monthly construction management meetings with the design team. Those meetings are open to the public.

The design of the proposed expanded upper busway in the Forest Hills MBTA station has not yet been finalized, according to MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo. As originally proposed, buses exiting the busway would face Asticou Road, shining their lights directly onto homes. Following a community meeting with Asticou neighbors, the design team agreed to revisit the design to mitigate the light and sound pollution to the neighborhood.

“MassDOT and the MBTA are reviewing alternatives that minimize the light impacts from the exit of the upper busway,” MassDOT spokesperson Michael Verseckes told the Gazette this week. “Once we have determined the best alternative, we will review them with the Design Advisory Group.”

Asticou Road resident Bernard Doherty maintains that his neighborhood association will sue if its members are not happy with MassDOT’s solution.

“We’ve made it clear, we will sue,” he told the Gazette at the meeting.

The project team is still working with BTD to determine if left-hand turns would be allowed at the intersections of the new Casey Arborway and South and Washington streets during non-peak hours. Two possible alternatives were presented at the meeting.

“We’re trying to determine whether that [choice] is worth it,” Godfrey said. Allowing the turns would lower the efficiency of those intersections in processing through-traffic.

“Deadhead” buses, or buses on their way to or from their storage facilities, will not need to make any changes to their existing routes outside of needing to use the new U-turns on the Casey Arborway. Both U-turns will be able to accommodate MBTA buses, Verseckes said.

“Buses going in and out of service do so primarily outside of commuting peaks. Therefore, the impact on rush hour traffic, when these buses are serving their routes, is expected to be minimal,” he explained.

The design team has also proposed a seating area next to Franklin Park Villa Co-op, an independent living facility at 131 Morton St. The garden-inspired area would have benches and smaller bushes and trees than the surrounding area.

Two mature oak trees near the West Roxbury Courthouse that would have been cut down in the original plan will now be saved following a consultation with an arborist and a small revision to the plans.

About a dozen members of the community could be seen wearing Bridging Forest Hills hats, advocating for a new bridge to replace the Casey instead of the state-selected at-grade surface street plan. The state made that decision over a year ago and has not shown any signs of revisiting the decision.

Community comments about the project can be sent to michael.trepanier@state.ma.us. Information on the project, including the July 11 presentation, can be found at massdot.state.ma.us/caseyarborway.