Bridge Supporters Renew Call to Halt Casey Plan

In what has become a monthly event, residents who remain unconvinced of the wisdom of plans to replace Casey Overpass with a network of surface roads took their protest to state transportation leaders.

As many as 20 bridge supporters attended Wednesday’s Department of Transportation board meeting, according to Jeffrey Ferris, the owner of Ferris Wheels, who has become the most visible opponent of the current plan. Only five wore the “Bridging Forest Hills” caps that clearly identified their allegiance.

Jeffrey Ferris, owner of Ferris Wheels, pauses for a photo in his "Bridging Forest Hills" hat.

Chris Helms

Jeffrey Ferris, owner of Ferris Wheels, pauses for a photo in his “Bridging Forest Hills” hat.

“It seems to me what is needed is a moratorium,” resident Kevin Moloney told board members. “It’s simply not fair to inflict this project on our community as currently designed.”

While supporters of the current plans for an at-grade solution point to a long community process that resulted in the decision not to replace the crumbling overpass, bridge proponents hold out hope they can convince city and state leaders to take another look.

The project is currently in a holding pattern as the Massachusetts Historical Commission has asked to review the decision to change Shea Circle into a square.

On Wednesday, Forest Hills Cemetery’s director of operations spoke against the plan for sidewalks on the cemetery’s property at Shea Circle.

“We feel we’re fairly historical ourselves,” said Mitchell Zakrzewski, referencing how the 1950s-era Shea Circle may come under protection as a historic parkway.

He said there is very little pedestrian traffic on the cemetery side of the traffic circle.

One bridge proponent, resident Bernard Doherty, asked transportation officials to keep in mind that the Casey project is just one of many construction projects coming soon for Forest Hills.

“There’s a tsunami of development coming to this community,” said the longtime Asticou neighborhood resident.

In addition to the Casey project, other ones slated for 2014-18 include the Hughes Oil site, the old Flanagan-Seaton site, Parcel U near the station and possible long-delayed action on the Arborway bus yard.

No proponents of the at-grade plan spoke Wednesday, but in a recent interview, Sarah Freeman of the Arborway Coalition said the current plan is best for Jamaica Plain.

“Neighborhoods thrive when overpasses come down,” she said.

The Department of Transportation board took no action and made no response to the speakers, who spoke during the public comment period at the beginning of the monthly meeting at the State Transportation Building in the Theater District.

Residents and advocates wait to speak at the March 12, 2014 Department of Transportation board meeting.

Chris Helms

Residents and advocates wait to speak at the March 12, 2014 Department of Transportation board meeting.