Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Underpass Passes (Temporarily)

With the decision to tear down the Casey Overpass just announced recently, I thought this little tidbit would be of interest. While the Casey Overpass was built in the 1950s, the need for it seems to have predated the post-war years. At the time, the railroad tracks ran on a raised embankment that bridged the Arborway with multiple arches, and the Elevated line bridged the Arborway a stone's throw away as well. And streetcars ran down Washington street and through the station as well. Add automobiles, and the Arborway grade crossing must have been quite a mess.

It was natural to propose a tunnel under Washington street to help break what must have been intersection-lock at the time, but something wasn't accounted for. That would be Stony brook, carried through Forest Hills and the rest of Jamaica Plain in a buried conduit. Apparently, no one brought up this obstacle at the City council meeting discussed below, and the proposal got a temporary green light. I'll leave the wisdom of the choice recently announced to others, but it is clear that the overpass was built for a good reason, and served its purpose well for over half a century.

Daily Boston Globe August 6, 1929

Forest Hills Underpass Order is Passed for First Reading

[Discussion of the widening of Centre st in West Roxbury]

Forest Hills Underpass

The council also, at this meeting, passed for its first reading Councillor Motley's order for $350,000 for the construction of an under-pass at Forest Hills, to relieve traffic congestion on Arborway, Washington st and other nearby streets. This underpass is planned to be 40 feet wide, and, the council was told, it is estimated that it wall save the city $107,000 annually in economic value, through elimination of delays under the elevated structure at Forest Hills.


  1. Interesting that Stony Brook didn't seem to be an obstacle to putting the railroad and Orange Line under the Arborway.

    1. The Stony brook conduit runs parallel to the train tracks. It's the Arborway itself that crosses paths with the conduit - that's where the problem is. Any tunnel under the Arborway would have to go under the conduit as well.