The record snowfall the area has received has pushed back the closure of the Casey Overpass until the end of May, said officials at the second construction update meeting hosted by the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) on March 9.
Officials also responded to concerns raised over asbestos and dust contamination. They said that testing has shown no signs of asbestos, and laid out measures to contain any dust.
The Casey Arborway project will replace the Casey Overpass, which carries Route 203 over the Forest Hills T Station area. A new six- to eight-land surface road will be constructed.
Fewer than 200 people attended the March 9 meeting at English High School, which was a noticeably smaller crowd than the first construction meeting in January. Bridging Forest Hills, a local group that has sought to have the Casey Overpass replaced with a new bridge rather than new surface streets, was still a presence, holding up signs that stated “Stop the Project” and “Stop the Highway.” The group again handed out flyers directing people to contact Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh to stop the Casey Arborway project.
Alex Kasprak of MassDOT went over environmental concerns that have been raised over the demolition of the overpass. He said two independent contractors conducted tests for asbestos at 10 locations, collecting 20 samples. They found no evidence of asbestos.
He also responded to concerns over harmful dust from concrete demolition, saying that water will be used to minimize the dust, per MassDOT and Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. Kasprak also said the dust will be monitored during the demolition.
Some people, including Mattapan resident Robert Peters, criticized MassDOT for not holding meetings in outlying neighborhoods. Peters also said that MassDOT tearing down the overpass is a “civil rights violation,” as it will prevent people in his community from getting to work in the Longwood Medical Area. James Kersten of MassDOT responded that the agency will look into hosting meetings in the outlying neighborhoods, and noted that there was a lengthy community process. He also said MassDOT is now onto the construction phase of the process.
The three-week outlook for the project includes establishing a work zone at the Arborway Yard and continuing to make way for the temporary surface roads that will be used once the overpass closes.
Kersten said that his job is to help “mitigate the construction impact,” but the “reality is traffic will be bad.”
He also said officials will appear at Curtis Hall, 20 South St., on March 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for anyone with questions or concerns.
The next construction update meeting will be in May.