Should 1950s-Era Overpasses Come Down?
The state is deciding if other Boston neighborhoods will get the treatment Jamaica Plain is receiving — tearing down 1950s-era overpasses in favor of surface roads.
Urban planners no longer love the idea of putting elevated roadways through urban centers.
Even so, the state plans to spend millions of dollars shoring up two such overpasses — the McCarthy Overpass in Somerville, which carries the McGrath Highway, and the Bowker Overpass in Back Bay and Kenmore Square, which carries Storrow drive into Fenway — while they decide whether to tear them down and replace them with surface roads.
Somerville Patch asked in a poll "Should McGrath Highway be torn down?" and 82 percent of those who responded agreed with the statement, "Yes. It's a crumbling, dangerous curse on Somerville. One reader, Alex, called it the "Brown Monster" and said, "McGrath Highway is to East Somerville what the Berlin Wall was to East Berlin. Tear down this highway!"
Also this summer, Somerville Patch asked residents to weigh in on what they thought were the worst intersections in Somerville, and most of them chose exchanges that involved the old, crumbling highway.
Globe transportation reporter Eric Moskowitz recently surveyed urban planners, politicians and highway officials on the costs versus benefits of elevated roadways.
Many agreed that all eyes are watching the Casey Overpass project in JP, where one such 1950s-era overpass is being razed and replaced with surface roads. If that design moves traffic and people smoothly, it could pave the way for the demise of the McCarthy and Bowker overpasses.