Yancey calls for hearings on Forest Hills overpass about to be torn down

The City Council on Wednesday approved a proposal by Councilor Charles Yancey for hearings on the imminent demolition of the Casey Overpass - several years after state officials announced the plans and months after construction crews began tearing down trees, building a temporary replacement road and doing other preparation work.

Yancey said too many people in his district have questions about the project - which will ultimately replace the overpass with surface roads - and that they are owed the chance to ask state officials how they will ensure ambulances from Mattapan and Dorchester to the Longwood Medical Area aren't blocked and that residents aren't harmed by any substances released during the demolition.

Yancey acknowledged the hearings come way too late to let opponents try to convince state officials to replace the overpass with another overpass - an issue that has caused an angry split within Jamaica Plain.

"This is not [a motion] to cease and desist the demolition of the Casey Overpass," which connects the Arborway in Jamaica Plain with Morton Street in Mattapan, Yancey told fellow councilors.

That's welcome news to Councilor Matt O'Malley, who represents Jamaica Plain. O'Malley, who has been through 4 1/2 years of what he called "very spirited" meetings and who has been accused by people on both sides of the issue of favoring the other, said the decision has been made and it's not going to be changed or delayed: The overpass is coming down and it's going to be replaced by surface roads, period.

To suggest otherwise would be "dishonest with ourselves, dishonest with each other and most important, dishonest with the people we represent," he said.

Councilor Steve Murphy (at large) acknowledged he is concerned about what could happen at the "commuter chokepoint" that serves a large swath of the city, from Hyde Park to Dorchester, but said he is worried people would start blaming the council for the work when the whole thing is a state project the city had nothing to do with.