With Casey still delayed, MassDOT talks bus details

February 14, 2014
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The Casey Arborway project remains delayed, with a review by the state Historic Commission (MHC) holding up the project, project manager Stephen McLaughlin told a group of Forest Hills-area neighbors on Feb. 4.

McLaughlin said he expects the project to be put out to bid “in a few weeks.”

The meeting was organized by Weld Hill Avenue resident Sarah Buermann for residents of the Forest Hills area and it mostly addressed concerns about local traffic the new expanded upper busway on the western side of the station.

Most of the meeting focused on modifications and traffic patterns expected for the new school bus loading zone. School buses, which now stop along New Washington Street, will be directed to load and unload students in the lower employee parking lot along Hyde Park Avenue. That lot will need some redesigning to accommodate larger vehicles.

The project team said the alterations would not cost any parking spaces.

“We want to make sure we can design this so that it will work,” team member Paul Godfrey said at the meeting.

The project team also announced that expected higher vehicle noise levels at an expanded upper busway, serving MBTA buses, along Washington Street will be imperceptible to the human ear on the Hyde Park Avenue side of the station. Ongoing traffic monitoring will also take place throughout construction to monitor cut-through traffic.

Buermann previously told the Gazette that she was not satisfied with her local representation on the project’s Design Advisory Board (DAG), saying the representative attended three meetings early in the process and no more.

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) needs approval from MHC for a redesign of Shea Circle at the Arborway and Morton Street into an intersection called Shea Square. The MHC has repeatedly requested design alternatives and more proof for the necessity of altering the historic state parkway.

The option to create Shea Square was originally created to reduce the high rate of vehicle crashes on the rotary. MassDOT has said the Shea Circle redesign is not a necessary part of the overall project, which is replacing the Casey Overpass with surface streets. But the circle redesign review has delayed the entire project for months.

In November, MassDOT said at a community advisory board meeting that the project was expected to be put out to bid by the end of January.

Gazette calls to MHC spokesperson Brian McNiff were not returned.

The Casey plan has been controversial, with many organized local supporters and detractors. Information on the project, including past presentations to the community, can be found at massdot.state.ma.us/caseyarborway.

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