Yancey on Casey: ‘I Have Grave Concerns About This Project’

Name-checking the successful grassroots effort that stopped the Southwest Expressway, City Councilor Charles Yancey told a sometimes raucous crowd of about 175 that he wants to make sure neighborhoods outside JP, notably Mattapan, don’t suffer from ills he sees in the massive project.

Yancey, who represents District Four, said he’d soon announce a date for a City Council hearing he’s sponsoring for an “urgent review of the impacts” on the city’s neighborhoods.

Yancey was among the many voices at Thursday’s construction information meeting at English High School who called the whole effort into question. Transportation officials have struggled at each of the three construction meetings this year to limit discussion to practical questions about carrying out the project.

The District 4 councilor wants a series of public hearings on the traffic and environmental impacts of neighborhoods all along Route 203. For instance, he’d like to know how the lack of a flyover might affect ambulances going from Mattapan to the Longwood Medical Area. State officials concede that that through traffic will take about a minute to 90 seconds longer to get from Franklin Park/Morton Street to Murray Circle once the project is done.

“If this project makes sense for just one community and harms the other community,” Yancey said Thursday, “then we must reconsider.”

The massive project, which went through a years-long public process that bridge proponents remain critical of, is well underway. The bridge, already down to one lane in each direction, begins closing for good on Saturday. First the inbound lane will be shunted to a temporary surface road and, next Saturday, the same thing will happen for the outbound lane.

Follow all the Casey Arborway news in this special section of Jamaica Plain News.

  • I still question the “minute to 90 seconds” that will be added to each vehicle’s travel time. How can you increase the number of vehicles going over surface streets, with additional traffic lights, and only have that short a period of time added to the trip? It sounds to me like either someone’s mathematically challenged or they’re using POOMA numbers because I’m not that great with figures and it sounds like the numbers are way too low. And POOMA numbers? Because with all due respect, the numbers may have been pulled out of someone’s you know where.

  • brian

    The surface plan will help families from Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester safely access the Emerald necklace by bike. It is a wonderful opportunity to bring greater access to the Arboretum, and eventually the Pond, for all Bostonians.

    • Nancy

      What about by car??

      • KostaDemos

        What about the cars? To hell with the cars, I say. Contemporary urban society is moving past cars (at least as we now know them), so it makes no sense to plan for them in the long term. Mark my words: in a few years, private automobiles will be about as easy to spot as Ivory Billed Woodpeckers.

  • SC from JP

    JP/Forest Hills does not exist in order to minimize travel times by car for those living in adjoining areas. It is a neighborhood where people live, and it should be designed primarily with residents in mind. That overpass is a crumbling eyesore, and the current design around Forest Hills station is awful for pedestrians.

    Which is to say that this is basically the exact opposite of the Southwest Expressway fight. Besides which, this decision has long since been made. These people should give it up already.

    • BethE

      JP/Forest Hills is a regional transportation hub, not your backyard. It should not be designed to keep out drivers and transit users in favor of residents. The at-grade scheme worsens conditions from existing at several key pedestrian crossings because it widens the roadway (which DCR will not allow to be called a parkway because it will function more like a highway) to 6 and 7 lanes.

      A new bridge would allow every single pedestrian and bike improvement designed for the at-grade scheme to be built better and easier than the tortured, convoluted and hideously expensive at-grade scheme. It’s common sense: 24,000 fewer cars on the ground, lower traffic volumes, 53% increase in open space over existing vs. 35% increase with at-grade = lots more space to do whatever you want and not degrade all forms of transportation.

      • Do you have anything resembling a credible source for even one of your assertions? The facts, the data, the four+ year process that lead to the final (yes, final) design certainly do not support any of them.

        1. It is not designed to keep out drivers or transit users
        2. “Worsens conditions…” for pedestrians conveniently leaves out more visible crosswalk designs, safety refuge islands with signal buttons and queue space in every median, countdown timers and chirpers and better overall traffic signal sequencing – throughout the project area.
        3. “DCR will not allow…” is just completely imaginary.
        4. Contrary to your assertion, MassDOT stated repeatedly before the decision was made – three years ago – and many times since that the expense of “a new bridge” would preclude the inclusion of most of the surrounding infrastructure improvements that you claim would be better.
        5. “tortured, convoluted and hideous” reminds me far more of the myriad and ever-shifting false claims made by opponents of this project over the last three years than the project itself.
        6. I can’t even begin to parse most of your “common sense” assertions without a cited source other than to state flatly that the project does not “degrade all forms of transportation.”

        The only data-point that has any basis in fact is one that HAD a basis in fact four years ago when the overpass still had four lanes and the counts were taken: the much ballyhooed “24,000” cars. The sky did not fall when its capacity was cut in half.

        • hydesquare

          clay, i believe the decision to eliminate the bridge was based on cost and cost alone, and was made years and years before any of the reports the at-grade folks love to spew on and on about. I believe the “facts and data” were designed and tailored to support the an at-grade roadway.

          • I see. Folks are entitled to their beliefs. But it’s curious to me how convenient it is to rely on belief alone while rejecting any inconvenient “facts and data”.

            In the case of the Casey, we’re all saddled with construction inconvenience for many months to come – but there is comfort and succor to be found in the “facts and data” and in the many benefits the project promises to pedestrians, to cyclists, to MBTA patrons and to recreational users of the Emerald Necklace corridor.

            There is very little to be found in anger and fear.

          • hydesquare

            You missed the point of my argument. I was suggesting that “facts and data” are easily manipulated to support whatever side of the argument someone might be on.
            It’s pathetically simple for “folks” to find comfort and succor when they are told precisely what they want to hear, however temporary as that comfort is likely to be. I don’t think questioning the veracity of athourity needs to be labeled as anger and fear. Should they be like some, and blindly believe everything the government tells them because it’s what they want to hear?

          • I don’t think anyone who participated in or followed closely the four+ year process that resulted in the final design blindly followed anyone, or blindly embraced what “government” was feeding them. Every piece of data was questioned by all participants.

            For what it’s worth, I have read and considered every single document that MassDOT made available related to this project, including the minutes of the meetings I missed. And I’ve done additional research on a host of other topics that came up along the way: historic parkway preservations guidelines, the history of Forest Hills, Olmsted’s plans, the theory and practice of roundabouts, the procedures related to amending National Registry places, the visual archives of transit history for the area, and I have frankly jumped down many other rabbit holes that were interesting to me but only tangentially useful to understanding this project or the viewpoints of those who participated in the process. I say that not to boost my own credibilty or to come ascross as some sort of self-righteous something or other, but simply to point out that facts, data, information, history and neighborhood concerns were all part of the process – not just for the planners, but for me. They were all ingredients that were considered and incorporated into the final design to the extent possible – and that’s exactly how it should be. At some point, “data” matters. At some point, the professionalism and credentials of the myriad engineers, architects and specialists involved carries some weight and – for me – absolutely trumps claims that have no basis in fact.

        • BethE

          for $84 million, the Casey project should be doing MUCH more for mobility for all modes than only making marginal improvements or degrading mobility. For that money we should have a model transportation system.

        • BethE

          for $84 million, the Casey project should be doing MUCH more for mobility for all modes than only making marginal improvements or degrading mobility. For that money we should have a model transportation system.

      • FartFace

        I’m in favor of replacing the bridge with a tunnel. In fact, all roads should be tunnels. Or bridges. No vehicle transportation should take place with 40 feet of the Earth’s surface. Better yet, replace all cars with teleportation units.

  • Pingback: Casey Bridge Overpass – Support our Cause – Sign the Petition – Thank you! | jenkins3blog()