Forest Hills Tree Horror Should Have Happy, Green Ending

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Credit: Chris Helms

Residents, especially those not clued in to the massive Casey Arborway project, are expressing sadness or even outrage over the removal of 160 trees from around Forest Hills Station. What planners haven’t done very well is explain that by project’s end, there will be about 400 more trees than before the crews started cutting them down.

The devastation is easy to see. It’s to make way for new streets and reconfigured facilities as part of the razing of the Casey Overpass and switch to a network of surface roads.

Let’s take a close look at one representative section.

Toole Square

This is the open space at the foot of the Arborteum and South Street, right by the Casey off-ramp.

Tree removal by the World War I memorial in Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Chris Helms

Tree removal by the World War I memorial in Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Nine trees have been cut down in this section, among them a 27-inch diameter Norway maple. You can see eight of those in this plan. A total of eight existing trees are being kept.

Tree removal and retention plan for Toole Square section of Casey Arborway. Two Toole Square trees don't appear on this page — one will be removed, another retained.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Tree removal and retention plan for Toole Square section of Casey Arborway. Two Toole Square trees don’t appear on this page — one will be removed, another retained.

But by project’s end, the area would again be leafy, with more trees than before:

Detail: Toole Square final plan

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Detail: Toole Square final plan

It should be noted that the above rendering doesn’t exactly reflect the detailed tree plan. In the rendering, trees in green are new plantings and empty circles are existing trees. You can see that there are two trees in the lower left corner that the rendering has as being saved that the detailed plans actually show to have been slated for removal. They are both gone.

A total of 560 trees are expected for the area when the project is done. Construction is expected to end by Sept. 30, 2016, but other aspects of the project would continue until February 2017, according to Michael Verseckes of MassDOT.

Resident Clay Harper, who has studied the project in detail and writes about it on his Arborway Matters blog, urged people dismayed by the tree destruction to keep in mind that the end product will be greener than what we had before.

“This is nothing more than the consequence of things that need to happen to get us to the end of the rainbow,” Harper said.

Trees that are being kept are being wrapped in burlap and two-by-fours to protect them during construction.

Crews have wrapped burlap and two-by-fours around trees that will be kept to give them protection during construction.

Chris Helms

Crews have wrapped burlap and two-by-fours around trees that will be kept to give them protection during construction.

MassDOT has promised images and graphics to give a better idea of their plans. Once we get those, we’ll post them.

Many or most of the trees that have been cut down were planted in the 1980s, the last time there was major construction around Forest Hills Station.

Of course, even knowing that new trees will be planted, it’s tough to see so many cut down. Here are some more photos of the destruction, followed by an overall view of what the end result should be.

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Chris Helms

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Chris Helms

Toole Square, Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

Washington Street, March 16, 2015.

Chris Helms

Washington Street, March 16, 2015.

Washington Street, March 16, 2015.

Chris Helms

Washington Street, March 16, 2015.

Final conditions as planned for Casey Arborway project.

MassDOT via http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/

Final conditions as planned for Casey Arborway project.