A member of the team handling the massive Casey Arborway project briefed local business leaders Wednesday on progress.
The session took place at the monthly meeting of the JP Business and Professional Association. Nate Curtis, public involvement specialist for the project, outlined several aspects of the demolition and construction.
Of course a major concern for the neighborhood and those passing through is traffic. Curtis said the traffic patterns now established will largely hold through the expected end of major construction in fall 2016. The half-century old Casey Overpass is being torn down and replaced with a network of surface roads.
Curtis said traffic patterns have settled down since crews closed the bridge in May. In general, he said the a.m. commute is better than the p.m. rush hour. Officials from the state Department of Transportation and the city's equivalent have been monitoring traffic and adjusting signals.
"We're pretty comfortable with the way traffic is operating," Curtis told the crowd of nearly 20 local businesspeople.
The summer lack of school buses certainly helps, Curtis said.
One significant choke point is where the Arborway splits, with one route going down to South Street while the Arborway itself crosses to what is now Shea Circle. Getting from Murray Circle to the lights at Washington Street averages 10-12 minutes at rush hour, though it can be as quick as six minutes or as much as 15, Curtis said.
Curtis, who lives in Forest Hills and grew up in JP, said merchants can expect the parking situation to remain about the same from here on out.
"The parking you see is the parking you get through the end of construction," he said.
A few spots have been lost where Hyde Park Avenue becomes Washington Street. Also, courthouse parking has moved across the construction zone to the MBTA's Arborway Busyard.
Trash a Concern
Somdutt Sharma, co-owner of Tikki Masala, the Forest Hills restaurant which hosted Wednesday's meeting, quizzed Curtis on what could be done to make the street more attractive. He said many mornings he must clean up cans, bottles and litter in front of his 3706 Washington St. business.
Curtis said that in the long run, the removal of the overpass should help.
"It's going to be a lot greener here, a lot nicer," Curtis said. "It's going to make people think twice about throwing a can."
The project is still on track for major construction to end by Sept. 30, 2016, Curtis said.
There are five phases in the project. The first phase, roughly corresponding to removal of the bridge, should end by Labor Day he said.
The next phase of night work, originally scheduled to begin Sunday, would start Sunday, July 26 instead and run to July 30, according to a project update posted on the Casey website. That work will focus on the 39 Busway and South Street.
Curtis encouraged business leaders present to subscribe to MassDOT's email list, which regularly provides three-week "look aheads." Here's the Jamaica Plain News guide to how to sign up for that email and hook into other information sources about the Casey Arborway.
For complaints or suggestions, residents can also call the Project Hotline at 617-571-7878.
Curtis and other transportation officials also hold office hours each month at Curtis Hall Community Center, 20 South St. The next one is set for Tuesday, July 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m.