Mixed reaction to Forest Hills bus canopy proposal

Residents had mixed reactions to the 60 percent completed design of the Forest Hills bus stop canopy project, which was presented at a public meeting on Nov. 2 at English High School.

The construction of the canopy is part of the Casey Arborway project.

A previous meeting had been held in September, which presented the 30 percent design and welcomed community feedback. The Nov. 2 meeting was the second on the canopy design with a turnout of about 25 residents. The meeting included a presentation of the design by George Katsoufis, the lead architect for the canopy project, and a question-and-answer period.

As the design stands now, the canopy over the upper bus stop would be 70 to 72 feet wide and 330 feet long. A smaller entrance canopy would be built to connect the main station to the larger canopy.

The entrance canopy would be 24 feet wide with the potential for benches, and have 7-foot tall windscreens. Since the last design, a railing was added between the bus area and the pedestrian zone for safety purposes.

Concerns from the previous meeting included where snow was going to be stored, whether or not the buses with long wheel bases would be able to turn left out of the lot, and what the signage would be around the stop.

The Route 39 bus, which is a 60-foot bus, would turn right out of the parking lot to head down South Street. The other buses, which are 40 feet long, would be able to turn left out of the lot to go towards Roslindale. Snow would be stored on an island between the bus station and Washington Street.

The pedestrian waiting area for specific buses would be between 9 and 11 feet wide and have 6-foot tall fences with advertisements. With piers and smaller shelters, there would be on average a 4-foot wide traffic path for pedestrians at the bays to maintain clear circulation.

Departure displays would be added to show the minutes until bus departure. They would also have a light that would show when a train is arriving at the station, mostly so that the driver knows to wait a couple extra minutes to pick up passengers transferring from the trains. Some residents wondered if there should be two ways of wayfinding, visual as well as audio announcements, but other residents who live in the area were concerned that the audio announcements would be too loud.

The color of the canopy was discussed, and the project team is currently considering a light structural base and forest green top. Some residents said they would prefer a lighter color for the canopy to deflect heat.

There would be LED lighting under the canopy, supposedly with little light spill, according to Katsoufis. Abutters to the station were happy to hear that the design is sensitive about the lighting, but had some concerns about the sounds from construction. Jim Kersten of the MBTA said that the construction details had not been worked out yet, but Katsoufis added that the canopy would have an acoustic property to dampen sound from the buses.

Mark Katz, a Roslindale resident, requested that buses that go down a similar route be grouped together at the station.

While some residents applauded the design, others had an adverse reaction to it. One attendee said she was “horrified.”

“It wasn’t broken, so why fix it? This monstrosity…I don’t get it,” said the attendee. “How does this integrate with the current station? It’s not beautiful, it’s not timeless, it’s an albatross.”

Other residents said that they feared the design would be huge, dark, foreboding, and would feel too enclosed.

The 100 percent design is expected to be announced in early 2017.

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