JP’s Malia Holds Out for Bridge Over Forest Hills

Celebrating the reboot of First Thursday Art Walk at 668 Centre St. on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

Philip Keith

State Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain, speaks. Celebrating the reboot of First Thursday Art Walk at 668 Centre St. on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

As the neighborhood readies for the first public meeting about the construction details of the Casey Arborway project, one of JP’s most powerful political voices still wants to see a bridge built instead of a network of surface roads.

“I have hope,” State Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain, said last week after the State of the City Address. “I never give up.”

The massive project will remake Forest Hills for generations to come. A public meeting is set for Wednesday at which the project team aims to introduce itself and dive into the details of the construction process.

While proponents of the settled-on alternative of razing the Casey Overpass and reconfiguring the surface roads point to the years-long public process, Malia said significant voices still haven’t been heard.

For instance, she thinks of the people who take the packed buses leaving Forest Hills for Roslindale Square and beyond. Have the needs of those commuters been properly addressed?

Residents who take Malia’s side plan a big showing at Wednesday’s Casey Arborway meeting. An organized resistance is calling for hundreds of people to protest.

“Over 24,000 daily drivers on the bridge will be forced onto widened surface streets with five new traffic signals,” reads a media alert sent by the people behind Bridging Forest Hills. “Local traffic will be forced to drive circuitous routes and stop at up to four new signals. The project was rammed through despite considerable protest.”

Opponents hope Gov. Charlie Baker’s new administration will put fresh eyes on the decision.

Malia drew a parallel with the fight against I-95. As most residents know, that project, which would have severed Jamaica Plain in two, was well underway by the time activists stopped it. The Southwest Corridor Park is the legacy of that resistance.

But while Malia has aligned herself with those pushing for a bridge, State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz has remained neutral.

Speaking with Jamaica Plain News after last week’s State of the City speech, Chang-Díaz said she sees her role as a “conductor and amplifier” of community sentiments around the issue.

See all our Casey Overpass/Casey Arborway coverage here.

  • kinopio

    Having to sit at an extra traffic light isn’t really the same as having a neighborhood destroyed by having a huge highway run through the middle of it.

  • Lynn McSweeney

    Please explain the difference between a “six-lane roadway” and a highway. Seems to me we’re getting sold the same thing, but green-washing it by calling it a “parkway” instead of a “highway”. And it won’t be just one extra traffic light. I wish I could believe the fairytale, but alas, I cannot. While trying to get the neighborhood to buy into how wonderfully green it will be, MassDOT nevertheless has planned for an underground pedestrian by-pass to enter Forest Hills Station. I just don’t get why an underpass for pedestrians is considered a better plan than an overpass for the damn cars. SMH.

  • I wish I could be at tomorrow night’s meeting. I used to walk through that area every day and dreaded what laid ahead, luckily I found a more enjoyable route to walk every day. That doesn’t mean I’m at all happy about the loss of the bridge.

    As Jeff Ferris reminded me this am the community stopped the highway that instead became the southwest corridor despite 600 homes having already been demolished and the families displaced. Just because The Powers That Be decided there wouldn’t be a bridge doesn’t mean it’s a done deal and the overweight woman has already begun warming up her vocal chords. It will mean even more delays and a bridge that needs to be closed soon before it falls apart more, but this resident has hope for a better outcome than is being pushed through by MassDOT.

  • Sarah Buermann

    I understood via a tel. call to her office at the time that Senator Chang-Diaz
    supported the persons who called her the most, and that was a lot of the bike union, who perhaps had info. and encouragement to make calls before some of the rest of us. -Can’t prove that, I know it is an inexact statement, but under the circumstances the seantor’s decision to remain neutral is probably the best. I do know that I leafleted for a meeting around the IMMEDIATE Forest HIlls neighborhood, (which isn’t the same as Stonybrook), and we had 45 mostly very local people show up; most knew nothing about the plan at all.
    Like most of us, I plan to listen carefully, weigh info. available to me, and ask for details that seem to be overlooked, and try for the best outcome. As everyday citizens who have other work lives to carry on, we have to rely on our electeds to staff the state and local agencies with people who have the intentions and the skills to deal with us and make the best possible outcome. It can be a burnout process for some of the staff, and those burned out should be replaced so we can still get a good outcome.

  • Hugo_JP

    Rep. Malia – the train has already left the station! Do we really want to spend money to re-study and re-design something that has already been through the vetting process?
    Neither option is perfect and there will always be a constituency for and against the two options. It’s time to move on and focus on making the street-level intersection as good as possible.

  • Charlie

    Let me get this straight: People who protested and helped to stop the state from building a huge car-oriented structure (I-95) in their neighborhood are now protesting the removal of one (The Casey Overpass)?!

    • Have you seen the backup along the Arborway and Morton Street during rush hours? It, and the backup on South Street at Forest Hills, will just get worse, and it will be even harder for pedestrians to get through the area. And I’m referring to after it’s finished, not during the building, when I won’t want to be anywhere near there. I feel bad for the people who live on the other side of Forest Hills and walk to work on the Monument side of the station.

      • Charlie

        The traffic patterns in the area are a mess currently and the surface routes weren’t designed to handle all the overpass traffic. The new design has much more direct routing of the streets and signals that are synchronized for better traffic flow. You can’t judge what the future design will be like based on what’s there today. It’s totally different.

  • Clay Harper

    First Bridging Forest Hills plasters a leaflet to my front door with PACKING TAPE that pulled off paint, and now my State Rep throws more fuel on these embers. Fortunately this too shall pass.

    But anyone looking for details on the Arborway plans as developed over more than 20 public advisory group meetings and 8 large public hearings giving ample voice to all viewpoints, will find that information here:

    • Packing tape? So not good. Thanks for posting that link, Clay. I was just looking at it again the other day.

    • FartFace

      I was also annoyed by the packing tape. I have a mailslot, Ferris!

  • Pete Stidman

    Just for the record, the progressive transportation crowd—people like Governor Dukakis—are for getting rid of the bridge. Bridges over intersections ARE highway style infrastructure. Boulevards on the ground that handle local traffic are not. 24,000 cars per day is actually not that many cars when you look at it relative to other streets. Columbus Street where it crosses Tremont? That’s more like 38,000 cars. Is anyone talking about a bridge for that? No. Because it would be silly.

  • Kate Hutchinson

    I really hope someone runs against Malia in the next election.

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