Letter: Arborway project makes Forest Hills a mess

I wonder, has the MassDOT, BPD, or McMahon, the traffic engineer associated with the Casey Arborway project, been out to the project site in the past 3-4 months? I ask, because a cursory visit to the site, particularly in the afternoon, would demonstrate to the above entities that their temporary traffic control in the area is an abomination that has made Forest Hills, and south Jamaica Plain in general, a complete and utter traffic disaster.

As a citizen who lives two blocks from the intersection of the Arborway, South and New Washington streets, I could see how one might think that the timing of the temporary lights has not been thought out or designed to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic. I could even understand if someone’s first thought were that the lights were timed specifically to hinder the smooth flow of traffic.

In the afternoon, anytime between 3:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., a person with any sense can see that the way the lights are timed all but encourages vehicles to block the numerous intersections on the west side of the project area, thereby perpetuating a traffic situation that is already an utter nightmare. Frequently, traffic is backed up to Monument Square or farther for upwards of two hours every day. But is there a police officer at the intersection enforcing the “do not block intersection” signs? Has the traffic engineer made a single visit to the site to determine if the light-timing pattern is effective?

As an individual who walks, drives, or jogs through this intersection literally every day I can tell you that I have seen neither police enforcement, nor any sort of critical analysis of the traffic in the area. It all leaves my neighbors and I thinking that maybe, just maybe, MassDOT, et al, don’t care about the effect they’re having on this neighborhood, which does not bode well for the upcoming permanent traffic pattern. If McMahon, the design engineer, and/or MassDOT think doing a simple traffic study once, and using that data to time lights permanently, is a truly exhaustive and legitimate method for intersection design, perhaps they should go back to engineering 101.

I, for one, am fed up with the fact that it takes 35 minutes to drive from Jackson Square to Forest Hills, and with the traffic idling in front of my home for three hours every afternoon. All this without even getting into the deplorable conditions for pedestrians and bicycle traffic. Simple solutions to simple problems are needed, but no one on the project team seems to have the time, the intelligence, or the motivation to solve them.

Nicholas J. Ellis

Jamaica Plain resident

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