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letters | disagreement over Forest Hills span

Key role of bridge at Forest Hills overlooked in zeal to push development

Paul McMorrow’s July 2 op-ed “Community in the wake of mini-highways” is off base in its claims about the Casey Overpass inhibiting development. It’s ridiculous to suggest that, if it weren’t for the overpass, there would be few vacant or underutilized parcels at Forest Hills.

For years, city and state agencies valued the overpass for keeping surface streets accessible for local users — cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and buses — and they recognized that high traffic volumes and wide streets generally don’t build community.

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McMorrow misunderstands the overpass’s major transportation role for the region and Forest Hills. The state Department of Transportation is not shrinking an “outdated mini-highway” but creating a new surface mini-highway by moving bridge traffic to a widened, six-lane surface street. A replacement bridge plan would have created a neighborhood-scale street with only two through lanes.

McMorrow is right that removing the Casey Overpass won’t itself reknit Forest Hills. Indeed, a six-lane highway will be a new barrier, degrading safe pedestrian access from proposed housing, affecting the MBTA’s busiest bus route, and slowing regional traffic by mixing it with local traffic, buses, and taxis. These impacts are documented in MassDOT’s analysis.

In his zeal to promote urban development, McMorrow has jumped on the “bridges are bad” bandwagon, a one-size-fits-all approach, without bothering to understand the unique transportation benefits a bridge at Forest Hills provides and its crucial role in making the neighborhood livable.

Jeffrey Ferris

Jamaica Plain

The writer is owner of Ferris Wheels Bike Shop.

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