The Parent Imperfect saw it last weekend as he passed Forest Hills on the way to Connie’s soccer game. They had rolled in one of those portable signs like the ones that tell you how many hours it is going to take you to get off Cape Cod. “Casey Overpass Closed October 5 & 6, 8AM – 8PM.” I read it as, “Get used to it. If you think this is a mess now, wait until we tear up the entire neighborhood in the spring.”
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASS DOT) says that this is a short-term fix to 17 deck spans of the bridge so that the thing doesn’t collapse over the winter. It’s short-term because the bridge will be completely torn down in a major construction project beginning in March 2014. We’ll christen that one, “THE BIG FRIG”. During construction, it promises to change our lives of people living in the Forest Hills area at least as much as the new Mayor of Boston.
As a family, we pass through Forest Hills on public transportation, in a car or on a bike no less than 50 times per week. We obviously need to get a collective life. We live in Roslindale, but I work in the Fenway (sort of) and both kids go to school there. Liz works in Jamaica Plain and the both Vince and Connie have friends on the other side of the Arborway.
Forest Hills is already a mess. A huge amount of traffic goes through there from several different directions. On many mornings and evenings it seems that cyber-terrorists have taken over whatever controls the synchronization of the numerous traffic lights around the MBTA station. Because of the way the train tracks leaving Forest Hills limit the traffic, almost all of the traffic from our part of Roslindale gets funneled through the bottleneck at the end of the Orange Line. The Big Frig will only make a bad situation much worse.
But maybe this is just the price that must be paid for progress. Perhaps we’ll be so happy with what comes out of this project that we’ll quickly forget two years of inconvenience. Maybe.
Controversy swirled for a couple of years about the fate of the bridge that seemed ready to fall down. Many people felt very passionately that the bridge needed to be rebuilt to keep the traffic passing on two levels, while others insisted that everything would be just fine with all traffic going through the Forest Hills area at street level. In the end, the powers that be decided that the street level option was the way to go, so that’s the project that will begin in March. I suppose a new Mayor could pull the plug on the whole thing, but neither of the candidates seem ready to take that step.
And so, for now, we’ll have to put up with a little weekend inconvenience as money goes into fixing a bridge that will be torn down in a few months. In the longer run, maybe it’s time to figure out ways to keep more of our lives on this side of the Arborway