Help make Forest Hills healthy, wealthy and bikey

The Casey Arborway project will connect the Southwest Corridor, Franklin Park and the Arboretum

If you support the bright future vision of Forest Hills as a bustling business center and green gateway to the Southwest Corridor, Franklin Park and the Arboretum, the Union urges you to pen a letter to the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency this month as the Casey Arborway project undergoes environmental review.

The environmental review was triggered by the removal of nine trees wider than 14 inches at chest height, according to the report but the project will pose no major environmental impact.

Let MEPA know what you think the health benefits of the current design will bring, such as creating easier access to parks and increasing the number of people who ride a bike for transportation or exercise. The filing is available at bit.ly/caseyMEPA. Comments are due by Jan. 8 and can be sent to Michael.Trepanier@state.ma.us.

Despite this reality, a small group of those who were frustrated by the neighborhood’s choice to build at-grade rather than bypassing Forest Hills with a highway bridge will be trying to use the MEPA review to derail the process. At this point, all delays have the potential to threaten funding for the project, which has a spending deadline in mid 2016.

It will also be important to show up in force at a MEPA public meeting on Thurs. Dec. 6, 6pm, at English High School, 144 McBride St., Jamaica Plain. The Union strongly recommends cyclists turn out in force and speak up to be recorded as a supporter of the project.

Meanwhile the plans for the new Casey Arborway continue to evolve as the state now moves from 25 percent design toward a more detailed and complete 75 percent design. One particular sticking point is the future of a dual system of bike lanes and two-way bike paths along the new arborway. Pedestrian and disabled persons advocates have requested shorter crossing distances, pointing out that bikes would have an enormous amount cross section width with a dual system.

The Bike Union is asking MassDOT to improve the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s snow removal capacity before removing the bike lanes from the plan in the only practical way they can under current rules-with capital equipment. Specifically, a high-speed Bombardier snowplow.

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