Union members get snowplow with Casey Arborway project

Trackless Snowplow
A Trackless snowplow with a blower attachment attacks some blizzard residue.

While some bridge lovers have been trying to organize motorists who drive over Casey Overpass by holding signs and handing out alarmingly worded flyers over the last month (see last paragraph), many Design Advisory Group (DAG) members are making sure the voluminous details now surfacing in MassDOT’s plans come out in the neighborhood’s favor.

One of those details is a timely new snowplow for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). For months the Union’s DAG rep. Todd Consentino and others have been pushing for a Bombardier snowplow that can eat snow drifts at 40 miles per hour, and ensure a snow-free path year round. But when MassDOT generously approved the funding for the idea (Thank you Gov. Patrick and crew!), workers on the SW Corridor elected to acquire a slightly different plow to aid them in their wintry day-to-day. They chose a Trackless brand snowplow and also a truck with a plow attachment, a combined purchase of around $100,000. The Trackless plow is cheaper and a little slower than a Bombardier but very much equal to the task of keeping all the new bike paths in the project clear.

“You have to give the guys what they like to work with,” said Kevin Hollenbeck, who runs maintenance crews for DCR. “Give them what they like and they’ll be more likely to use it.”

The plow, along with the DCR’s spotless snow clearance job in 2012 may make some cyclists a little more comfortable with believing the two-way bike paths on either side of the new Arborway will truly be usable year-round.

Dozens of other details were discussed at the recent May 22 DAG meeting held in the English High School’s library. The room was a quiet hum of activity as members discussed whether or not the new MBTA Orange Line headhouse at the end of the SW Corridor would look “JP enough,” what species of tree should be planted in lush rows along the park and roadway, or the complicated details of the construction staging to come.

Some asked themselves: WWFLOD? (What Would Frederick Law Olmsted Do?), others took a more modern approach and in many cases opinions converged on some solid bases for consensus–at least when there’s no mention of where cars get to go. The meeting minutes and voluminous meeting materials will appear sometime soon on the Casey Arborway website.

The MassDOT team also announced the addition of URS and Crosby Schlessinger Smallridge (CSS) to the team of consultants for the project. The former is a global engineering firm that will focus on the roadway and new head house design and the latter is a local firm that will plan the landscaping of the new park. CSS was involved in designing Spectacle Island, the Neponset River Esplanade and Castle Island.

All of the work is geared toward making a large public 75% design meeting sometime in “early summer,” though delays are common in this process. Some bridge supporters are even threatening a lawsuit. (In light of this, calling Governor Deval Patrick to remind him you support the project is always a good idea. He’s at 617-725-4005 orconstituent.services@state.ma.us.)

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