FOREST HILLS– The massive state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) project to demolish the Casey Overpass and replace it with an at-grade street network called the Casey Arborway went out to bid April 12.
Closure of the Casey Overpass for demolition is expected by the end of the year. Casey Arborway project completion is expected to meet its September 2016 deadline—but contractor selection and weather could cause up to a year of delays, according to MassDOT spokesperson Michasel Verseckes.
“Overall, the project is expected to take between two-and-a-half to three construction seasons to complete,” he said.
MassDOT long presented September 2016 as a crucial completion date after which federal funding disappears. It is unclear what a long delay would do to funding.
The future of Bridging Forest Hills, a group created to advocate against the surface road plan and in favor of a new bridge, is unclear. Gazette emails and phone calls to member Jeffrey Ferris were not returned. Its website, rebuildcasey.com, remains live and was updated earlier this month. The website urges Mayor Martin Walsh to get involved to stop the plan for more public input.
The bid release followed Massachusetts Historic Commission (MHC) review of the plan to turn Shea Circle, the rotary at the Arborway and Morton Street, into a signalized intersection called Shea Square. That is just one piece of the Casey Arborway project.
A draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the two state agencies on April 9. In a letter that accompanies it, MassDOT Historic Resources Supervisor Stephen Roper states that the bidding process takes approximately 120 days to complete.
Roper also states that no site preparation or construction work will begin before the full execution of the MOA and that mitigation measures included in the draft MOA will be incorporated into contract documents.
The MOA includes specifications for panels to be incorporated into a nearby sitting area that will show way-finding and historical information about the area, labels for plantings in the area, and the possibility of salvaging the wood from the oak trees that will be cut down as part of the project.
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 over the Forest Hills T Station area with surface streets. But the circle redesign review delayed the entire project for months.
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.