After 7 months, Gov. Baker's Office Issues Statement on Casey Arborway
Seven months later, this communication from Gov. Baker's Chief of Staff says "it appears all opinions from the involved stakeholders were heard."  

It is disappointing the Governor's office ignored for months scores of calls, e-mails and letters opposing this project. Only after receiving about 1,600 petitions calling for a moratorium did the Governor's office decide to have one-sided conversation with MassDOT, the architects of one of the biggest frauds in recent MassDOT history, and conclude that the project is worthy. 

Does Gov. Baker care about those EXCLUDED from the conversation, the users of the bridge, and the other neighborhoods affected? Does Gov. Baker care that MassDOT may have "listened to" its opponents but with cotton in its ears so as not to HEAR. Apparently, they didn't hear because thousands think the no-bridge scheme is wrong and the result of a biased process that never gave a fair shake to a new replacement bridge.  And the e-mails and meeting notes obtained through costly Public Records Requests confirm this!

This is not over. Read this and take action. Call the Governor's Office at 617-725-4005!

Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:24:11 -0400 
Subject: Casey Overpass 

Dear John and Edward,
Thank you for your visit on Monday.  A lot of important issues were raised and your groups’ involvement in this project is commendable.
We have spent the past couple of days engaged with MassDOT staff, gathering all relevant documentation and evaluating the planning and design processes.
Our follow up has shown that the Working Advisory Group (WAG) and the Design Advisory Group (DAG) had members from Jamaica Plain and the surrounding communities involved throughout this process.  A wide net was cast and it appears all opinions from the involved stakeholders were listened to. 

As you know, a final decision was made by the Patrick Administration to move forward with the current design based on engineering standards, traffic/construction/environmental science considerations, feasibility and public input. In fact, the public involvement and feedback received helped bring about the inclusion of the Shea Circle reconfiguration, the addition of a new MBTA headhouse for the Orange Line, and a comprehensive landscaping design into the final product.
The traffic study used was executed in conjunction with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and assumed the corridor is fully developed and sustainable for twenty years of projected growth.  This study was subjected to two independent peer reviews and the determinations were supported.  The at-grade option was advanced because it ranked the highest for all forms of mobility, livability, and long term maintenance costs.
Having reviewed the project and, in particular, the outreach that has been made throughout the Jamaica Plain neighborhood and surrounding community, the Baker Administration believes that this remains a worthy project and should proceed as planned. Having a transparent, responsive and accessible administration is of the utmost importance to Governor Baker. We have directed the staff at MassDOT to provide us with regular updates on the project. While some disagreement may remain, we hope that we can move forward together productively and ensure the success of this project. If you have any ideas whatsoever that may lead to improved communication and transparency, please do not hesitate to share those with us.
Thank you again for your advocacy and understanding.  Yours are the only emails I have.  Please feel free to share with the rest of the group.

Mindy d’Arbeloff
Deputy Chief of Staff
Office of the Governor

Send construction complaints to MassDOT!
If you have been injured, nearly injured, disturbed by concrete dust blowing, feel police details are inadequate, observe dangerous practices in the work zone, or have any other complaints, you can send an e-mail to: CaseyArborway.Construction@dot.state.ma.us or call 617-571-7878 or 857-368-9041.
Overwhelming Support for a New Bridge by the Numbers
  • 1,153 signed petitions (online and paper) to Governor Baker
  • 1,058 signed petitions to Mayor Walsh
  • 2,115 Bridging Forest Hills supporters and growing
  • Every comment period, meeting, site walk, etc. since Nov. 2011 has been overwhelmingly dominated by those who support a new bridge at Forest Hills
  • Anyone claiming that "the majority" of JP or any other geographic area supports the no-bridge plan has no basis to make that claim.       7/11/15
    P.S. Has any at-grade fan ever demonstrated this kind of support for eliminating the bridge?!

Supposed initial support for at-grade scheme faded fast
Opposition to the plan to eliminate the Route 203 Casey Overpass over Forest Hills is intensifying as the demolition proceeds. The truth is for most of the 3 1/2 -year planning and design period, opposition to this plan has outnumbered support.
Support for the no-bridge plan at the time MassDOT sought comments (Nov.-Dec. 2011) was strong, but a look at the at-grade supporters then shows:
  • 28% were form letters from Boston Cyclists Union members,
  • 27% self-identified as cyclists,
  • 9% came from parks, bike, and walking advocacy organizations and communities not affected by the overpass, and 
  • and only 1% of the comments came from minority neighborhoods who actually use the bridge. 
    Who is it who wants the at-grade scheme?

Councilor Charles Yancey Speaks out on "Grave Concerns" About Casey Overpass Demolition
Councilor Yancey expressed grave concerns about the Casey Overpass project that will eliminate the overpass and replace it with a 6-lane to 7-lane roadway.  He is in the process of setting up a City Council hearing to give those who were not consulted or were completely ignored during the hurry-up planning process that led to the announcement the bridge was coming down a chance to hear about the project and voice concerns. Click here to view a video and read the article from the JP Gazette: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/05/07/yancey-on-casey-i-have-grave-concerns-about-this-project/11446

MassDOT Meeting Shows Agency Fiddles While Forest Hills Chokes
Route 203 Casey Overpass Elimination Protested at May 7, 2015 Meeting 
Over 125 protested plans to demolish the Route 203 Casey Overpass in Forest Hills and replace it with a 6-lane to 7-lane surface
Forest Hills needs a BRIDGE

road with up to 5 new traffic signals.  Participants held "Forest Hills Needs a Bridge" sign and were asked to  call on Gov. Baker 
to pause the project to make see if the state is doing the right thing.

The bridge will be closed completely May 16. MassDOT officials and contractor personnel struggled throughout the meeting to answer questions, including why the variable message signs outside the project area say "construction" instead of "demolition"; why the upgrades to Forest Hills station—a whopping $11 million worth—are hidden from the public and NEVER described in any schedule; total construction cost ($74,115,000); and how many meetings were held in Mattapan. 

Councilor Charles Yancey spoke about the confusion and lack of awareness that still exists and announced the City Council will be holding a hearing soon.  He said hi responsibility is to determine the safety and health impacts—never analyzed—and make sure the project doesn't help one neighborhood while hurting another.  "I have grave concerns," Yancey said.

Contact Gov. Baker at 617-725-4005 and say a moratorium is needed NOW!

Save The Casey Online Petition
We’re making progress, and we need your help:

We believe it is wrong to spend $75 M+ to create a 6- or 7-lane highway amidst Emerald Necklace parklands, add up to 5 new traffic lights, impair pedestrian, bike and bus travel, and disenfranchise Boston’s poorest neighborhoods to relieve MassDOT of bridge maintenance at Forest Hills. The Casey Overpass was built to alleviate gridlock due to mixing of local and regional traffic in this already busy transportation hub. MassDOT’s at-grade plan reverses that. It’s not only a bad idea, but also tragic, maybe criminal, lethal, and at minimum a gross disservice to tens of thousands of citizens impacted by this decision.

That's why we created a petition to Governor Charlie Baker.

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

AND DO PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS WIDELY to any and all you know who care about human rights, safety and health.  Post on your Facebook page, Tweet – whatever you can do.  Thanks!
Councilor Yancey Stands Up For Casey Overpass Users
Click the image below for coverage from The Bulletin, or click here to read the Hearing Order on the Casey Overpass filed by Councilor Yancey (opens PDF).
[The Bulletin with headline: Councilor Yancey on Overpass Demolition: not so fast]
Opponents of MassDOT Route 203 Casey Overpass Elimination Plan Make Their Case at March 9, 2015 Meeting
[Image: people in auditorium hold up signs that say STOP THIS PROJECT and It's a Bridge. Build It & Get Over It.] Another big crowd attended a MassDOT meeting at The English High School about the upcoming Route 203 Casey Overpass demolition. 

The vast majority of the crowd opposed the plan, holding "Stop this Project" and "It's Just a Bridge; Let's Build it and Get Over it" 
signs and asked Gov. Baker to pause the project and take a second look at the lunacy of MassDOT's plans.

Despite trying to bore the crowd into leaving by spending more time on the science of noise than on the traffic impacts, residents and business owners from Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Dorchester stated their dissatisfaction with MassDOT's bridge-elimination plan. 

Contact Gov. Baker at 617-725-4005, and e-mail Mayor Walsh to remind him he campaigned on stopping this project and has reneged on his promise (Mayor@boston.gov).
Letter: Casey Protesters Were Angry for Good Reasons
Jeffrey Ferris writes in to the J.P. Gazette, Feb. 13, 2015 - click here to read his letter to the editor.
Huge crowd says "Forest Hills Needs a Bridge" at MassDOT Casey construction meeting Jan. 21, 2015
Over 300 people packed The English High auditorium to hear MassDOT and its contractor talk about the upcoming Casey Overpass demolition and the overall construction period activities. More than 200 protested the project that will permanently eliminate the Route 203 bridge over Forest Hills, holding signs reading "Forest Hills Needs a Bridge" and calling MassDOT's plans for a 6- to 7-lane highway wrong. Rep. Liz Malia called for the new Baker administration to review the project before it advances.

MassDOT failed to present a case for removing the bridge, describing the project purpose as "reconnecting" transit, pedestrians and bikes. The Department of Transportation couldn't come up with a single transportation reason removing the bridge is better than a plan with a new bridge and a reconfigured surface network. Not shocking; this has been the pattern on this project for three years.

MassDOT said the presentation would be posted sometime to the website: www.massdot.state.ma.us/caseyarborway  
[Image: people standing and holding up signs "Forest Hills needs a BRIDGE." Photo by Laura Wulf.]
 [Image: people hold up signs that say Forest Hills needs a BRIDGE. Photo by Rhea Becker.]
Standing for a bridge at Forest Hills, not a 6- to 7-lane highway carrying all traffic through a place jammed with pedestrian, transit, bike and local traffic. Photo by Laura Wulf.  Attendees at MassDOT meeting on closing the Casey Overpass say, "Forest Hills Needs a Bridge"!
Photo by Rhea Becker.
[Image: The Bulletin newspaper. Click for full article. Quote: ""There is not a single mode of transportation that is better with their [at-grade] plan than it would be with the bridge." Jeffrey Ferris
[Image: packed auditorium at English High on Jan. 21, 2015 with people holding Forest Hills Needs A Bridge signs dotting the crowd. Photo by Laura Wulf.]Above: the only signs in the standing-room crowd at The English High School call for MassDOT to replace the Casey Overpass, not remove it. Photo by Laura Wulf.


JP Gazette: "Walsh backs off call for Casey review"

How can this be? Marty Walsh campaigned for a moratorium on the Casey Project. Please call or e-mail Mayor Walsh and remind him that he said this. Tell him you want him to follow up and ask him to please act quickly since MassDOT is moving as fast as it can to award a construction contract.

Join us 
as we educate drivers, bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians about the proposed project.  Let the Mayor know we are expecting him to act on this issue!  Send an e-mail to info@bridgingforesthills.com to help.

[Bridging Forest Hills supporters in their signature BFH hats hold up signs saying: "Tell The Mayor Forest Hills Needs A New Bridge!"]

Devil in the Details “Walk the Line” video: Check out this fascinating short video about some of the proposed new “enhanced” crosswalks at Forest Hills after the Arborway nightmare is built. Do you think the 115-foot-long crosswalk is the one Sec. of Transportation calls an improvement in his June letter?  Watch the 2:36-minute video on Facebook or YouTube.
Bridging Forest Hills News Coverage

Boston Globe Opinion section:  'Casey Overpass Plan is Flawed'
Boston Globe Opinion section published this piece by Cranston Rogers, P.E., retired civil engineer, and Kevin F. Moloney, Casey Advisory Group member from JP.  For entire piece, see: 
A key point the authors make is that MassDOT led people to believe the bridge could not be repaired, thereby skewing the "planning study" by not including that as an alternative. What other alternatives were omitted to skew the "planning study" in favor of the preferred solution, an at-grade scheme? 
The authors ask Mayor Walsh and Governor Patrick to act. "...Mayor Walsh has the duty to demand that moratorium. He has the right — and the obligation — to have his own people evaluate the situation. He should not rely on the attitude of the previ- ous city administration, which acquiesced to MassDOT at the expense of access and the quality of life. Governor Patrick should join Mayor Walsh in calling for this moratorium and not leave this flawed MassDOT project as his legacy in Boston.

Uphams Corner News Letter to the Editor "Calling on Mayor Walsh for New Analysis"
Download our recent flyers: "What's Wrong With The Casey At-Grade Scheme?" and "How Did MassDOT Deceive So Many Into Thinking a Bridge is Wrong?"
https://docs.google.com/a/rebuildcasey.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=cmVidWlsZGNhc2V5LmNvbXxyZWJ1aWxkLXRoZS1jYXNleS1vdmVycGFzc3xneDoxMmE4ZDhjMmQ4NGI2YjU1      https://docs.google.com/a/rebuildcasey.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=cmVidWlsZGNhc2V5LmNvbXxyZWJ1aWxkLXRoZS1jYXNleS1vdmVycGFzc3xneDo0OWJiNWE5MDg3M2ZmYmRi

Letter from Sec. Davey to Bridging Forest Hills
MassDOT Secretary Davey Attempts Letter to BFH ‘Members’: Give MassDOT a B for effort. Sec. Davey’s letter
 to BFH was clearly written with more care than previous communications that made unsupported and erroneous claims about the at-grade scheme. Click to see letter for how MassDOT now explains its support for the at-grade and BFH’s comments.

City Actively Promoted At-Grade Scheme While Claiming it Had no Position: E-mails bought through a $440 Public Records Request show that some members of the Menino administration called a hand-picked group of people to encourage them to attend the Sept. 13, 2011, public meeting on Casey alternatives. Although the e-mails do not describe the nature of the “messaging” mentioned by BTD Commissioner Tinlin, the City employees in the e-mails seemed intent on making sure a list of seven people not only attend the meeting but also speak. City officials in the JP Gazette (Aug. 3, 2013) denied prepping anyone on what to say despite discussing “messaging” for the calls. So if the City wasn’t promoting the at-grade scheme and wanted to escape scrutiny, why would BTD Commissioner Tinlin ask, “No fingerprints?”

Marty Walsh issued a statement Thursday, August 22, 2013 in support of a new bridge to replace the Casey Overpass:
Marty Walsh Flyer
"I am calling on Mass DOT to fairly evaluate the option of replacing the Casey Overpass with a beautiful modern bridge that reflects the Olmsted tradition that protected this area for so long, a bridge that will unite and connect communities."

Your health and safety are at risk! 




Here’s how and why we must demonstrate to those elected to represent us that MassDOT’s plan, like I-95 in 1970, is wrong:
1. project has significant regional travel implications that are continually understated.
2. the critical decision period in late 2011, MassDOT overweighted at-grade support from bike and parks
groups while actual users of the bridge had little or no knowledge of the planning study.
3. because “traffic works fine” under the at-grade doesn’t mean a six-lane highway with no normal left turns is appropriate here.
4. not too late. The funding will not disappear if MassDOT reconsiders this flawed plan. The 2016 deadline is a MassDOT-imposed deadline. Doing the right thing sometimes takes more time.
So please let your elected officials know you think MassDOT is wrong! Send a short message or call your state representative, senator, and city councilors. Then fill out the Governor’s online comment form to let him know.

Contact Your Elected Officials
State Rep. Russell Holmes (Mattapan, Roslindale)

State Rep. Liz Malia (Jamaica Plain, Dorchester)

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill)

State Rep. Edward F. Coppinger (West Roxbury


State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (Dorch-Lower Mills )

State Rep. Angelo Scaccia (Hyde Park/Readville)

State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
City Councilors


Sign the Petition

Tell your friends, neighbors, and co-workers!

BRIDGING FOREST HILLS: Statement of Purpose

Bridging Forest Hills is a group of local citizens who believe the MassDOT decision to not replace the Casey Overpass is wrong. The fundamental concept is that every traveling mode is served better with less surface street traffic on the smaller street network required with a new replacement bridge. 

Forest Hills is a transportation node for every form of urban transportation. Eight arterial routes converge here: Washington Street from north and south, South Street from north and south, Hyde Park Avenue and Walk Hill Street from the South, The Arborway from the west, and Morton Street/Route 203 from the east. Walkers, bicycles, local traffic, regional traffic, city busses, school busses, taxicabs and trains are all funnelled through this area. It is blessed to be surrounded on three out of four directions by the Arnold Arboretum, Forest Hills Cemetery, and Franklin Park. This is also what creates the transportation funnel with no adjacent transportation routes to alleviate the traffic through this node. 

Although there is a popular design concept today of removing urban viaducts as featured in the article “The Life and Death of Urban Highways,” this is a bridge, not a viaduct. Many communities around the world have benefited by removing elevated highways, but every other one had other routes to relieve the traffic load, and were not a node with this many arterial routes converging. e.g. With the removal of the Central Artery, all its traffic was put underground! 

Some of the many benefits that a new replacement bridge can provide are: 

1. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross New Washington St./Arborway easier and safer with a narrower crossing. This is what our bike and pedestrian advocacy groups have been requesting for years, and is best accommodated with a new bridge.

2. On-street cyclists can move throughout the area easier with new bike lanes and fewer cars. Bike lanes were promised from the start of this project, and now MassDOT wants to eliminate them, despite national, state and local guidelines that call for bike lanes. (AASHTO) 

3. The 39 bus terminus can stay where it is to minimize travel time for this busy high-priority route. The current plan calls for moving it to behind the Roslindale busses. Not only does this complicate and lengthen bus route 39, but also crimps future transit expansion possibilities.

4. There is no need to rearrange significant MBTA infrastructures. 

5. The mid-block crossing from the Southwest Corridor Park can be retained. 

6. There is less pavement on the ground with a new bridge, thus more open-space allowing for fabulous Emerald Necklace Parks connections to be made on the ground. 

7. Sidewalks on the bridge would provide additional connections, allowing Emerald Necklace park users, both pedestrians and cyclists, to completely avoid 2 major intersections. 

8. In addition, sidewalks on the bridge provide views from the Stoney Brook Valley into the surrounding city and parks as well as from downtown to the Blue Hills. It becomes a destination in itself within the Emerald Necklace. 

9. Least impact on Route 203 regional traffic providing important access to our hospitals and to Boston’s largest growing employment sector of the Longwood Medical & Academic Area. 

10. Provides the best opportunity to improve the flow of local traffic in the Forest Hills area, as well as the N/S commuter traffic.

11. Best serves the needs of local businesses and new development with normal traffic patterns and turning movements. 

12. Local air quality is improved with less cars stopping and idling on the ground with fewer traffic lights. 

13. Although the bridge may create a psychological barrier, this can be overcome with good design. But a 6-8 lane roadway here will be a real physical barrier for anyone passing through. 

14. Safety of the traveling public was never rated. Statistically there are fewer accidents when there are fewer cars on smaller streets.  

15. A fabulous new bridge will create an iconic focal point for Forest Hills. Modern bridge design would create a much slimmer, sleeker bridge than is there today. 

16. The geography lends itself to a bridge because the Arborway comes off a hill that is already at the required elevation. 

17. Frederick Law Olmsted, the Emerald Necklace architect, incorporated bridges and separation of modes here and many other of his parks as he designed for contemporary use. 

18. We need a different bridge design than the one and only design that was shown in last year’s alternatives analysis. The bridge can be designed with much smaller intersections creating the best safety and Level of Service for all. 

Recent Interviews Regarding the Casey Overpass Replacement

Bike Advocate Favors Surface Replacement for Overpass from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.

Casey Overpass Debate: for the Bridge from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.


Basic Facts

The existing Casey Overpass is structurally deficient and cannot be rehabilitated. The bridge is so tall because it used to go over the Orange Line and railroad. It is so massive and ugly because it was built in era when aesthetics in urban infrastructure were ignored.

The existing bridge is higher and wider than necessary.
Any new structure would be one lane in each direction and lower.

The existing bridge carries 24,000 vehicles
per day (vpd) and between 1,350 and 1,700 in the a.m. peak hour. New Washington Street carries about 12,000 vpd.

Few other east-west alternate routes exist
, so no traffic is expected to be diverted from this corridor in the future, according to CTPS.

Existing traffic is expected to grow on the overpass by 5% and by 14% on surface streets.

Surface streets and traffic patterns will be improved
by removing the massive existing bridge and replacing it or not.

Cost estimates in 2008 dollars to build a new bridge
ranged from $57.5 million to $73.7 million.

Why a New Bridge is Better

A Forest Hills bridge is a  connector, not a barrier, because it keeps 24,000 vehicles per day that are not going to local destinations off local streets. With the bridge, the traffic volumes on New Washington Street are kept relatively low, about one-third of what traffic volumes would be without a bridge. This is the central argument for building a new bridge—the quality of the pedestrian, auto, bike, and transit experience would be degraded with the addition of 24,000 vehicles per day, the additional lanes required to accommodate these regionally vehicles, the additional signals and travel time required for vehicles to maneuver a contorted and convoluted surface street pattern. A new, modern bridge would allow a simpler, reduced traffic surface street that would help reconnect the area divided by the 1950s Casey Overpass.

Benefits of a New Bridge

A new bridge . . .
  • would require fewer travel lanes for people to cross. The bridge prevents a mini-highway/traffic barrier for those traveling north-south, keeping central JP connected with Bournedale, Roslindale, and Hyde Park.
  • would connect east-west travelers to and from further destinations without clogging local streets.
  • would be a gateway connecting the Emerald Necklace from the Arboretum to Franklin Park and Forest Hills Cemetery with a vista impossible from a congested surface street.
  • would provide an opportunity for an iconic structure that would be both a gateway to the Southwest Corridor Park and a focal point for the area. What’s the new emblem of Boston? The Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.
  • and the surface solution would both improve Emerald Necklace connections with either the bridge or no bridge. Both plans show improved paths on the north side of New Washington Street with connections to the Southwest Corridor Park. Both plans show many more trees in the corridor than today.
  • would increase usable open space by 53% while the surface solution would have a significantly smaller increase (30%). More travel lanes chew up open space
  • would provide a straightforward, simple street network. The surface solution would prohibit left turns at four key approaches requiring drivers to travel beyond the street they want and through additional signals.
  • would have little impact on economic development, as there are no development parcels fronting on the corridor. The project is not an economic development project. The concept plans appropriately show the two potential development parcels fronting on Hyde Park Avenue and Washington Street where new commercial development would strengthen those existing business areas.
  • would best serve local businesses. Keeping surface-street traffic volumes reduced and allowing normal turning movements help make an attractive business area. The convoluted traffic pattern created by eliminating key left turns would require some drivers to go through 6 intersections instead of 1 to get to local businesses.
    Example:  driving from Olmsted Green on Morton Street to the Dogwood Café, a driver would 1) cross at the first signalized bowtie 2) cross at the Washington Street signal 3) cross at South Street 4) cross at the second signalized bowtie to reverse direction 5) cross at South Street again (!) and 6) finally make a right turn onto Washington Street/Hyde Park Avenue.