Letter: Casey Arborway project

I live in Jamaica Plain one-half mile from Forest Hills. I have closely followed the Casey Overpass issue through the Gazette and Bridging Forest Hills. I was recently made aware of a document issued by a state agency and posted on the Bridging Forest Hills (BFH) website that includes revelations about the Casey Arborway project. I am disturbed that the so-called Public Outreach staff on the project has done nothing to update the public on these project changes.

The document on the BFH website was issued by the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB) and is a summary of factual findings it learned at a Nov. 2, 2015, hearing with MassDOT Casey Arborway officials and MAAB’s final ruling on accessibility upgrades at Forest Hills station that the highway project triggers. November 2 was over six months ago and MassDOT has kept the truth from the public! What is it hiding?

Below is a summary of the facts presented to MAAB by MassDOT and its consultants over six months ago as recorded in the MAAB ruling posted on BFH website:

-Substantial completion of the Casey Arborway project has been delayed from September 2016 to late December 2016.

-Construction of the busway canopy and station wayfinding will not begin until Spring 2017 and won’t be completed until 2018.  Bus riders will have to wait out in the open for another year.

-Completion of the entire project is delayed over 15 months.

The busway canopy is not part of the Casey Arborway project.

In November 2015, more than a year after the construction project was awarded and over two years after first giving details on accessibility issues to MAAB, MassDOT had made little progress evaluating and estimating the cost for the mandated upgrades.

We hear constantly about how transparency is so important in our city and state government. Where’s the transparency and openness on the Casey Arborway project?  Why isn’t MassDOT and the contractor keeping the public informed of key schedule slippages?  Why were big pieces of the project pulled out of the highway project and scheduled and funded separately (canopy, wayfinding, accessibility upgrades)?

Since we hear nothing from MassDOT I can only speculate: could it be that MassDOT is breaking the project into separately funded pieces to keep the total price artificially low?  MassDOT repeatedly said at meetings that the price of the at-grade project had to be less than the estimated cost of the replacement bridge and new surface streets.  Maybe this is its way of making sure that’s true.

Edward Wagner

Jamaica Plain resident

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