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.

  • Mike

    I still don’t understand why dozens of trees needed to be cut down on the grassy median between the upper busway and Washington Street, no where near the overpass. It looks like a moonscape now.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Thanks for the question. That would be for the redesign of the upper busway. I should probably do a separate post about it.

    • Mike: have a close look at this rendering of the plans near the upper busway: http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2015/01/casey-arborway-closer-look-at-southern.html

      When construction is completed and the busway expanded southward, all buses will enter it from the south and exit to the north end at a new location. Instead of the serpentine drive that exits at the VFW/South St, they will come out near Asticou Rd with their headlights directed away from residential neighbors. It might be hard to see at the link, but north of that exit (where the taxis will no longer be located) and further south towards Ukraine Way the station-side medians will have new bikepaths (blue in the rendering) and sidewalks (pink) has well as extensive new trees and new landscaping all the way from the Arborway south to Ukraine Way.

      I hope that helps your understanding.

  • Hugo_JP

    It’s going to take a little getting used to but I suppose the silver lining is that the trees got cut down now and not in the summer when the area would have been full of green – and then suddenly not.
    Besides, we’re all going to be good citizens and avoid the area as much as possible during the next 18 months so we won’t really notice it, right?

  • Mike: have a close look at this rendering of the plans near the upper busway: http://arborwaymatters.blogspot.com/2015/01/casey-arborway-closer-look-at-southern.html

    When construction is completed and the busway expanded southward, all buses will enter it from the south and exit to the north end at a new location. Instead of the serpentine drive that exits at the VFW/South St, they will come out near Asticou Rd with their headlights directed away from residential neighbors. It might be hard to see at the link, but north of that exit (where the taxis will no longer be located) and further south towards Ukraine Way the station-side medians will have new bikepaths (blue in the rendering) and sidewalks (pink) has well as extensive new trees and new landscaping all the way from the Arborway south to Ukraine Way.

    I hope that helps your understanding.

  • Christine Poff

    Anyone know if the trees planted will be large or small? Clearing has removed large, mature trees that take years to grow. If larger trees are planted, regular watering and maintenance will be needed. Follow through after tree planting is often problematic and new trees die. But younger, smaller trees will take a long, long time to make the area as leafy as it has been.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Hi Christine,

      That’s one of the follow-up questions on my list for MassDOT.

      • I’m not sure if a size has been specified or not in the contract, but there was much concern about this amongst Design Advisory Group members. I think they said during the design process that the contract would specify a watering plan and 2 year replacement guarantee. If I’m remembering correctly, they said that would be double (in time) what is usual for state work.

        They won’t be 25 year-old trees, though.

  • Peppy

    Mike…the State is going to put in new roads, so the trees had to go, just like the pro-street level folks demanded. Did anyone really think they’d put the roads around the trees? That would be silly.

  • djg58

    Thanks for providing an in-depth explanation of what’s going on now and in the future.

  • Laika & Mishka Fan

    It was totally unnecessary slaughter of green life. End of discussion. No “silver lining” even possible. God you people are such self-serving JERKS!

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