The Casey Overpass demolition has begun, as the structure was closed on May 16. Traffic that formerly used the overpass has been diverted to temporary surface roads, which caused significant problems during the first evening rush hour after the closure.
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) held a meeting May 7 at English High School to discuss the project. The majority of attendees continued to protest that another bridge should be built, holding up signs to that effect. But several people spoke in favor of the project during the question-and-answer session.
The Casey Overpass was the bridge that carried Route 203 over the Forest Hills T Station at Washington Street and Hyde Park Avenue. The bridge is being demolished and replaced by a new six- to eight-lane surface road called the Casey Arborway. The project is scheduled for completion in September 2016.
The State Police reported “substantial delays” in the area during the first evening rush hour on May 18 after the Casey Overpass closed. A Gazette reporter driving through the area from central JP to beyond Forest Hills Station found the usual travel time doubled to 30 minutes, and only by using side streets as cut-throughs. The following morning, a Gazette reporter found light traffic when driving through the area.
The May 7 community meeting MassDOT held took the tone of the two previous meetings, with several critics of the project taking an abrasive stance. But some attendees spoke warmly of the project, including Dorothy Farrell. She thanked everyone that was involved and said that it was a “well-thought out, democratic process.” Farrell was promptly booed by some people in the audience.
Edward Wagner said he has only lived in the neighborhood for seven years, but knows about the effort during the 1970s to stop a “superhighway” from being built through JP on what is now the Southwest Corridor rail line and parkland. He asked why would those who fought to stop that highway “consent to a superhighway being built in front of your train station?”
For more information about the Casey Arborway project, visit bit.ly/1yMuRV6.
The following are detours and changes to streets that MassDOT has posted:
The southbound exit of Forest Hills Street, toward Shea Circle, will remain closed.
During the initial phase of demolition, westbound traffic will travel along the temporary roadway from Shea Circle to the Arborway onramp at South Street. Right and left turns will be permitted at the intersections with Washington Street and South Street. Eastbound traffic will be split at the eastern end of the overpass.
Traffic seeking to access South Street, Forest Hills Station, and points south, will bear to the right, making a right turn onto South Street at the bottom of the ramp. Left turns onto South Street northbound will not be permitted. Eastbound through traffic will bear left onto the eastbound temporary roadway. Eastbound right or left turns to South Street in either direction will not be permitted. Right and left turns at Washington Street will be open to traffic.
Bicycle connections will remain as they have since the temporary closure of the entrance of the Southwest Corridor Bicycle Path in April. At the end of the pathway, cyclists seeking to access South Street should bear to the right. Cyclists with destinations on Washington Street or to the east should bear to the left. These temporary connections are shared with pedestrians.
Pedestrian crosswalks will be provided at the Yale Terrace/Morton Street eastbound exit, Morton Street (Route 203) westbound entrance; Circuit Drive/Jewish War Veterans’ Drive, and Forest Hills Street exit of Shea Circle.
Signalized crosswalks will be present on the north and west sides of the intersection of Washington Street and the temporary roadway. Signalized pedestrian crossings will also be provided on the northern and western sides of South Street and temporary roadway intersection. Existing signalized crosswalks south of the Overpass on South Street and Washington Street will be maintained during this phase of construction.