The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) plan to turn Shea Circle into a standard signalized intersection as part of the Casey Arborway project is being questioned by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) for the second time.
The project to turn the rotary at the east end of the overpass, where it meets Forest Hills St., into a signalized intersection requires approval from MHC to continue. MHC, however, has rejected MassDOT’s recent filing and has requested immediate meetings with the MassDOT team.
A July 15 letter from MHC’s Executive Director Brona Simon to MassDOT, a copy of which was provided to the Gazette, states that MassDOT’s has not responded to MHC’s satisfaction in response to MHC’s Jan. 8 letter calling the plan to change Shea Circle to a standard signalized intersection an “adverse effect.”
A Gazette request for comment from MassDOT and MHC was not immediately returned.
In the Jan. 8 letter, the MHC requested that MassDOT reconsider the plan and explore alternatives to maintain Shea Circle, which is listed in State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The July 15 letter restates the request, noting that MHC wants MassDOT to “explore alternatives to avoid or minimize the adverse effect to Shea Circle…not for MassDOT to simply justify and reiterate your preferred alternative to eliminate Shea Circle.”
The July 15 letter also states, “the MHC is concerned to note that MassDOT has progressed to 75 percent design—a fairly advanced point to be at without having consulted with the MHC regarding adequate consideration of alternatives.” It further rebukes MassDOT for not sending copies of its recent filings to parties wo have expressed an interest in the process.
While problems with the plan to turn Shea Circle to Shea Square would not necessarily halt the Casey Arborway project, it would likely cause delays. The entire project must be completed by Sept. 2016 or lose crucial federal funding.
The project team can choose to alter only that part of the project, as has been frequently stressed during community Design Advisory Group (DAG) meetings.
The MassDOT team has not brought up its MHC approval process in DAG meetings since January, including at the latest community meeting on July 11.
The Casey Arborway, an at-grade surface street network, will replace the crumbling Casey Overpass. The Casey Overpass is the State Route 203 bridge over Washington Street at the Forest Hills T Station. Shea Circle is the roundabout at the eastern terminus of the overpass.
The state Casey project website is massdot.state.ma.us/caseyoverpass.