Green Line Reconfiguration

coleslaw

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I don't ride it as much as I used to but it can be really packed sometimes. If parts of the rute were 15+ min walk from the orange line rather than 7-10 (like the area from hyde sq past the curley would be if you moved the orange back to washington) I would bet it would be more often. Could probably resolve the same issue by extending the E through hyde/canary sqs.
 
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vanshnookenraggen

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I can buy the argument for extending the E to Hyde Sq but not further south.
 

Downburst

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My (anecdotal) opinion is that the 39 does not have a capacity problem nearly as much as it has a bunching problem.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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Eh, I don't think mixing buses in with light rail is going to turn out well in a dedicated ROW - I would guess buses would greatly reduce capacity/speed in it, as I think has been discussed on sharing the E Line row with buses.
I don't recall this for E/39, but for B/57 the argument has been that the train somehow runs slower than the bus. But if the train is going to run slower than the bus, why would you ever want to convert from bus to train at all? (And in the B/57 case, both slow fare payment on the trains and the lack of automobile congestion in that area are key to why it works out that way.)

Buses reduce capacity if you're up against the limit of total number of vehicles per hour in the ROW, but if the ROW only sees a bus/train every 90 seconds or less I doubt buses are going to be taking valuable capacity away from trains. If Warren St gets an SL5 equivalent train every 7.5 minutes (8 trains per hour) plus an SL4 equivalent train every 7.5 minutes (8 trains per hour) (grand total 16 trains per hour) in each direction, there'll probably be plenty of capacity left to run some buses.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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In a MassDOT study of the needs in roxbury, dorchester, and mattapan they discuss the potential for light rail through warren and all the way to mattapan down blue hill ave. It's on page 52-53.
They don't really address whether there would be train stations in the narrow southern part of Warren St.

I believe ADA requirements say that the awful E branch stops (Fenwood Road, Mission Park, Riverway, Back of the Hill) are potentially legal if they've been that way since before the ADA, but the MBTA definitely can't build more stops like that unless it takes the approach that the New York City subway is getting sued over of just completely ignoring obvious ADA requirements.

And the road doesn't seem to be wide enough for two tracks in dedicated ROW plus two travel lanes plus platforms.

Is there anywhere where taking 300' of neighbors' yards would work?

Is single tracking at the platform viable?

Does the train need to move into the travel lane and block it while stopped?

Is there any way to build stations that the neighbors will find acceptable?
 

bakgwailo

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I don't recall this for E/39, but for B/57 the argument has been that the train somehow runs slower than the bus. But if the train is going to run slower than the bus, why would you ever want to convert from bus to train at all? (And in the B/57 case, both slow fare payment on the trains and the lack of automobile congestion in that area are key to why it works out that way.)
I haven't heard or seen that argument, only the reserves, that buses would slow down trains in a dedicated ROW. Also, that buses are faster when street running and there is no ROW. As for the arguments for/against this, I forget what thread it was in (maybe this one), but F-Line maybe some pretty good points against running buses in the ROW from what I recall.
 

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In the long term, would it be wise to open a CR platform at College Avenue, close the CR platform at West Medford, and extend the GL to High Street with a new West Medford station?

This appears to make more sense than extending the GL to connect at West Medford (at least it makes more sense from my perspective as an outsider who uses none of these stops ). The regional transit station (CR) should be at the campus since it is a regional employment and activity center whereas West Medford seems more appropriate for light rail. This would cut down on transfers if the GL were one day extended to West Medford.

I'm not sure about the ROW availability in this segment of the Lowell Line and whether its width would preclude such a configuration in the future.
 

fattony

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In the long term, would it be wise to open a CR platform at College Avenue, close the CR platform at West Medford, and extend the GL to High Street with a new West Medford station?

This appears to make more sense than extending the GL to connect at West Medford (at least it makes more sense from my perspective as an outsider who uses none of these stops ). The regional transit station (CR) should be at the campus since it is a regional employment and activity center whereas West Medford seems more appropriate for light rail. This would cut down on transfers if the GL were one day extended to West Medford.

I'm not sure about the ROW availability in this segment of the Lowell Line and whether its width would preclude such a configuration in the future.
I think that is a spectacular idea.

W Medford loses their express to NS, but gains frequency and connectivity to Somerville and East Cambridge via GLX. Seems like an acceptable trade to me, but I didn't buy my house there based on the existence of the CR stop. Tufts gets the Haverhill and Lowell Lines for employees and students to commute on as well as a transfer at North Station for connection to the other north side lines and the OL (not likely to be much used until the arrival of EMUs and improved frequency). It would probably spur housing development and boost home prices in W Medford.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Continued from the Regional Rail thread. . .

Since there were a lot of questions about what an LRT conversion of the Grand Junction would look like, I slapped together these crayon drawings.


1. BU + Kenmore hook-in



2. Cambridge (w/differing Kendall station configurations)



3. Somerville



------------------------------

Harvard Branch
Entirely separate-funded build except for West Station stub, which can be folded in with mainline construction to give immediate RER transfer access. Routing through Allston speculative because still not clear where Harvard's set-aside transit reservation through Beacon Park is. Shown here as fully grade-separated with new-construction overpasses only at Western Ave. and (Phase II) N. Harvard. However, future status of ex-CSX freight berth under Cambridge St. re: Mass Pike straightening and future street grid infill @ Beacon Park are unclear. All approximate options for getting across the river into Harvard Sq. are shown: street-running (interim solution), ex- Red Line tunnel, busway.

 

jklo

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Cambridge to me seems very anti-GJ so I don't know how you get it built.
 

JeffDowntown

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Cambridge to me seems very anti-GJ so I don't know how you get it built.
You have to convince them that the alternative is perpetual gridlock all around Kendall, Cambridgeport, East Cambridge, Central Square.... The dense employment center is only going to expand.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Cambridge to me seems very anti-GJ so I don't know how you get it built.
Cambridge was against the Worcester Line Grand Junction study because:

  • The crossing impacts on RR mode were substantial even at only 5 peak-direction round trips daily. Those impacts spiral out of control the more you try to backfill bi-directionally and attempt quasi-RER ("quasi-" because the line just doesn't have the throughput for 15 min. headways both directions).
  • The study was hastily released with no local input, so they felt bitten by the politics pushing it for bypassing the locals.
  • Lt. Gov. Tim Murray had a couple foot-in-mouth moments during the rollout which only worsened the political faux pas. As Murray is a longtime Worcester homer it cultivated an impression that Cambridge was being run over to deliver pork to MetroWest.
  • Gov. Patrick's naked Olympics-baiting ploy promising a whole spider map of Indigo Lines by 2024 included the Grand Junction, which had not been studied at RER traffic levels. This piled onto the impression that local interests were being sold out so political constituencies could get their payday, and the impression that the much more conservative WOR-NS study was a trojan horse opening the door to carmageddon when it magically appeared on a spider map as an RER shuttle.

Nearly all of the 'controversy' is a whole lot of self-inflicted political wounds. Starting with first rule of provincial Massachusetts: DO NOT bypass the local input, because municipalities can hold grudges for generations. The WOR-NS study really didn't upset the apple cart service-wise and probably would've been less a nuisance on fully-upgraded track than the 10 MPH freight trains making an awful vibrating racket on a shot railbed. But they didn't show it around Cambridge or MIT.

Second, there had to be clear delineations that RER service levels were to require a whole new study, because the crossing impacts at bi-directional frequent(-ish...as much as the line can bear) headways were in a whole other more complicated stratosphere. That was left unspoken. Of course, now we know why: that spider map was just a dog-and-pony show for the IOC and there was zero intention by the last Admin. to actually build it.

Also unspoken was where the Urban Ring--which Cambridge & MIT very much DO support--fit into the picture. Now, enhanced RR service as a shorter-term interim move is fine and dandy and doesn't at all change the longer-term prospects for mode-changing the ROW to superior-performing LRT or BRT. But when putting out a new study you have to acknowledge that it fits into a changeable portfolio, otherwise people are going to wonder if that carpocalypse-causing RER shuttle is the outright replacement for any Urban Ring build forever.

It really was one of the most piss-poor transpo public engagements in recent memory. Unfortunately, instead of zooming in on the whopper political mistakes/blunders made and speculating on how the negative reaction would've been very significantly neutralized under 'normal'-baseline not-pants-on-head public engagement, conventional wisdom seems to have deemed "Cambridge is NIMBY".


That really isn't true at all. MIT has spilled lots of ink in its institutional vision docs about the need for the UR through its campus, and Kendall is blowing out its capacity to move people in/out at dizzying rate. Put through a proper re-study process, they'd be thrilled with this project. Much, much moreso than whatever the Commuter Rail Future study can scrape together for RR frequencies...because of the crossings. LRT & BRT can share signal cycles at the un-eliminable crossings @ Main/Broadway; 90% of the traffic impacts vanish under the phase-sharing capabilities of those modes vs. the absolute-priority of RR mode. And LRT & BRT can climb grades steep enough to overpass Mass Ave. Right there the #1 and #2 most pressing technical challenges the city has are completely addressed. The rest is just the due diligence of MA local civic engagement. In this case there are very few residences near the ROW and a shitload of professionals, academics, and students who need to get around on it. On sheer money-talks grounds the local constituencies are sympatico. They just don't want to be dumbassedly cut out of the conversation like last time.
 

Joel N. Weber II

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For the Harvard / West Station Green Line connection toward Kenmore, I wonder if using Malvern St or Babcock St to get to the existing surface B branch reservation would be cheaper than building a viaduct through the throat.

I'm also thinking there might be value in building a Green Line route originating at UMass-Boston, continuing to the JFK/UMass Red Line / commuter rail station, then along Columbia Road and Mass Ave and then into the tunnel to Kenmore, then to the BU surface stops on the B branch, then West Station, Harvard, Mass Ave to Porter Sq and Arlington Center, and then continuing along the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway ROW to Lexington Center.

http://amateurplanner.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-complete-mass-ave-in-cambridge.html has a proposal for how to create space for transit (``bus'' there, but that space should also work for Green Line trains) between Harvard Sq and Alewife Brook Parkway, and I think that cross section would also work in Boston on Mass Ave between I-90 and Melnea Cass Blvd, and on Columbia Rd between Mass Ave and the JFK/UMass Red Line / commuter rail station.

Mass Ave between Melnea Cass Blvd and Columbia Rd is currently too narrow for a transit reservation plus separate bike lanes plus space for single occupancy automobiles, but it might be worth redeveloping at higher density with greater setbacks to eventually widen the street.

Making space for a Green Line reservation between Alewife Brook Parkway and Arlington Center may be politically challenging.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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For the Harvard / West Station Green Line connection toward Kenmore, I wonder if using Malvern St or Babcock St to get to the existing surface B branch reservation would be cheaper than building a viaduct through the throat.
It would be horrendously slow and service-limited to run up the congested B reservation across the BU Bridge/Carlton clusterfuck, bang a hard right down any of the side streets at a signalized intersection, then cross the Pike on a sprawling viaduct. You'd get borderline-useless headways branching like that, not nearly enough for what the Urban Ring calls for.

As it stands, the Grand Junction is being accommodated through the throat in any purmutation of Pike rebuild. There is no scenario whatsoever where a 2-track ROW between West and BU Bridge would not be set aside for that line's exclusive purpose. So if you take the GJ offline to convert any part of it to light rail, that portion through the throat will be sitting there ready for a new rail use to come calling. There's no need to cheap out and maim headways by kludging together something off the surface B. Use all of it that's available by getting to the BU Bridge hillside...subway extension or surface-to-subsurface flying junction before hitting the bridge lights. On the hillside, junction east for the mainline Ring...junction west for the Harvard Branch via West. No fresh new Pike-crossing rail bridges required.

I'm also thinking there might be value in building a Green Line route originating at UMass-Boston, continuing to the JFK/UMass Red Line / commuter rail station, then along Columbia Road and Mass Ave and then into the tunnel to Kenmore, then to the BU surface stops on the B branch, then West Station, Harvard, Mass Ave to Porter Sq and Arlington Center, and then continuing along the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway ROW to Lexington Center.
The Urban Ring has a spur route proposed to JFK via Mass Ave. and Columbia Rd., coming off the SE quadrant's Dudley-Southie mainline where Melnea Cass meets Mass Ave. So it could be a light rail appendage if any of the south half goes LRT, though lack of ROW makes the south half a better match for BRT at this juncture. However, the spur is plainly envisioned as a radial because destinations of greatest need to Dorchester + UMass are Dudley and South Boston...not downtown where they've been able to make 1 transfer to get to Kenmore for 100 years and counting. It's similar to the Harvard Branch past West mapping more to drawing 66 bus users and Allston TOD into rapid transit than somehow shortcutting any currently-established subway transfers with route duplication.

Porter and Arlington are especially superfluous, as JFK riders already have a one-seat and 77/79 transfers at three different Red Line stations. Any rapid transit to Mass Ave. in Arlington comes from +2'ing Red to Arlington Center + Arlington Heights. You can't even get some other line's tunnel onto the Minuteman footprint because the Red tunnel goes a full 600 ft. on the Arlington side of Route 2 blocking the path.

The UR study left a lot to be desired on how to build it, but they did very clearly establish where the major demand catchments are and where those folks most need to go. That demographic data has held up very well in the >dozen years since, and probably makes for enough of a bedrock to not need a rethink whenever they get brave enough to pick this project back up for re-study. We can debate build feasibility of some of these chunked-together Green builds, but since the demand patterns have been documented to the nines you would first have to show clear-and-convincing evidence of a big miss in the original UR study. Because they already have a plan to do these routes as radials, having quantified the demand as radial-oriented. Proving their worth as a totally different breed of crosstown line takes a whole lot more than just stitching line segments together on a map and concluding they pass the eye test. You have to first disprove the prevailing proposal casting it as a radial, then prove all over again a greater worth as a crosstown. That's a very big overturn.

Frankly, I'd just take the radial. The demand numbers aren't voodoo, each quadrant or spur is a shorter corridor to project-manage than a monolithic 10-mile stitch job loaded with service interdependencies and ugly junction kludges, and as proposed these spurs are meant to route off multiple directions from their Ring mainlines to vary up the destinations.

http://amateurplanner.blogspot.com/2016/02/a-complete-mass-ave-in-cambridge.html has a proposal for how to create space for transit (``bus'' there, but that space should also work for Green Line trains) between Harvard Sq and Alewife Brook Parkway, and I think that cross section would also work in Boston on Mass Ave between I-90 and Melnea Cass Blvd, and on Columbia Rd between Mass Ave and the JFK/UMass Red Line / commuter rail station.

Mass Ave between Melnea Cass Blvd and Columbia Rd is currently too narrow for a transit reservation plus separate bike lanes plus space for single occupancy automobiles, but it might be worth redeveloping at higher density with greater setbacks to eventually widen the street.
Nope. Mass Ave. is 70 ft. wide curb-to-curb from Harvard to Alewife, and 70 ft. wide from Columbus Ave. to Melnea Cass. But between the river and Columbus it's only 55 ft., and in Dorchester south of Melnea Cass it's 50 ft. Columbia Rd. is 40 ft. from Mass Ave. until the median appears at the intersection of Dot Ave. They've painted bus lanes where they can, but there is absolutely no width for traffic separation on an outright majority of that route.

Wishing for a wrecking ball to create the width is not realistic when that much of the corridor falls way short.

Making space for a Green Line reservation between Alewife Brook Parkway and Arlington Center may be politically challenging.
Of course...they want their Red Line instead. A Red Line that's going to pass quietly underneath the Minuteman in a shallow Davis-style tunnel everywhere east of the high school football stadium. We should probably give it to them one of these days, as it would be a better use of resources than trying to pitch novel ways to screw up Mass Ave. after they spent a kajillion trying to fix it.
 
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Tallguy

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F-Line I appreciate your concerns regarding scope creep and how that could adversely affect the T's positioning vis-a-vis FTA support. Moreover, I agree with your assessment. I just think that isn't really the the main issue right now. We are at somewhat of a transportation planning/funding paralysis in Massachusetts and frankly I think a lot of the impetus for major projects going forward is going to have to come from the bottom-up instead of the top-down.

That is why I would define the next steps on this particular proposal as being basic advocacy work. The goal is to get this on the public's radar in a broad way so that Massport/MBTA starts really examining this proposal. Massport/MBTA can bear in mind how to define the scope of the project so as to best position it for FTA matching funding. In the meantime the goal is just to put the policymakers in a position where people are asking "What are your thoughts on this?" and "Why haven't you looked into this yet?" because that is the only way the planner are ever going to go back to the drawing board on SL Phase III.

[If you listen to the latest TransitMatters podcast Rich Davey goes over why the T simply just not have the bandwidth to really think long-term and creatively on transit planning on its own because it is so focused on just trying to get through every day. It's worth a listen.]



So with that all being said I think these are the pieces you need to have in place to start laying the groundwork for an advocacy push:

1. You need the general public to become aware that this is a doable proposal. Specifically, you need them to know they can have a train in the Seaport! It's not fantasy land crap.

2. You need to get something the property developers can sink their teeth into. This means something a bit more involved than a PowerPoint outlining the idea. If it were a veritable feasibility study they could then wave that in front of the mayor, the legislature and the governor and say "Hey, this [institute/group/scholar,etc.] says the Seaport can have a train. What is the status of that?" You really need to co-opt this constituency in order to give this proposal some political heft. They generally aren't persuaded by altruism but they are aware that congestion could undermine some of their investments going on in the Seaport and would very much be in favor of a major solution that looks to mitigate that problem while simultaneously making their investments even more valuable.

3. The feasibility study needs to account for Washington Street light rail. That's because a train to the Seaport may be meritorious in its own right but the politics of sending a train to the richest part of the city and neglecting economic justice areas could sink this idea. Couple it with Washington street light rail and say how one project begets the other. Marry those two constituencies together. It's the only way this thing can get the requisite support.

How to do that?

I see two scenarios.

The first involves a bunch of AB posters and transit enthusiasts getting together and preparing a presentation. The presentation can more or less synthesize the reasoning that we've gone over in this thread. That means quoting all the old studies and introducing the issue as well as the proposed solution (obviously this would need to be done in a more succinct and appealing manner than is done here). The presentation should be a slick PowerPoint, a clever youtube video, a snazzy webpage, and a social media push. Moreover, the rollout should be carefully choreographed so as to maximize press exposure when it finally does go live.

The idea behind this method really just to "pitch" the idea in the hopes that the general public or the powers at be are so excited by the proposal they then pick up the torch and try to carry it forward. This methodology could work but I fear that the initial detractors saying that this is just a fanciful idea we can't afford will make this approach lose wind quickly. It might resemble North South Rail Link advocacy which often tends to be disregarded as too crazy to really be taken seriously. It's a shame but that's often how these things go.

That being said, at least this idea would be out there and one could hope that the cause would be carried on at some point. That by itself makes this approach worthwhile at a minimum. I just don't have much faith that it would accomplish much in the current environment.

The second scenario involves raising funds to pay for a Feasibility Study. Once the feasibility study is prepared the promoters could then begin a soft rollout to property developers in the Seaport and community leaders in the Washington Street corridor/those neighborhoods impacted by the Washington Street light rail connection. Once those stakeholders are bought in, the promoter can then prepare the wider public campaign that includes the PowerPoint, the youtube video, the webpage, social media, etc. Again, the "wide" rollout will need to be in such a manner as to maximize press exposure.

This approach has the advantage of making the whole thing a lot more credible because of the study behind it. Also, you can get broader buy-in from the outset having done some groundwork in advance with the soft rollout. Most importantly, this approach stunts the inevitable comments about how this is just a crazy subway proposal that we could never ever afford.

The question is, how much capital does one need in order to undertake this kind of targeted advocacy? Or more specifically, how much does a feasibility study cost (the assumption being the advocacy part involving the soft rollout, stakeholder marshaling, presentation prepartion and press campaign when you finally do go wide is mostly done on a volunteer basis)? That is the key question because if we are talking in the tens of thousands of dollars I think the funds could be raised from deep-pocketed real estate developers in the Seaport area. Maybe even $100k. However, if studies start climbing much higher than that I think this approach is just too rich for grass-roots advocacy.

The example for this approach is the Brooklyn Queen connector streetcar that was just rolled out. Whether or not you think that proposal in particular is a good idea the study and presentation was funded by real estate interests so that by the time it was publicized it had some real substance to it. This seems to have had an impact as the idea was taken up by the De Blasio administration in his recent State of the City address. A similar approach could be applied in this instance in order to kick-start the long overdue discussion on this topic and put this front and center on our policymakers agenda.

I obviously opt for the second scenario as that is the most effective way to get something done in this city. However, it's hard to figure out the barriers to entry without having a sense of how much a feasibility study would cost. Anyone else have any thoughts?
So, 2 years later, where is Transitway Green Line? Is it on any body's radar screen? Where is TransitMatters? Seaport businesses? Mass Convention?
 

stick n move

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Continued from the Regional Rail thread. . .

Since there were a lot of questions about what an LRT conversion of the Grand Junction would look like, I slapped together these crayon drawings.


1. BU + Kenmore hook-in



2. Cambridge (w/differing Kendall station configurations)



3. Somerville



------------------------------

Harvard Branch
Entirely separate-funded build except for West Station stub, which can be folded in with mainline construction to give immediate RER transfer access. Routing through Allston speculative because still not clear where Harvard's set-aside transit reservation through Beacon Park is. Shown here as fully grade-separated with new-construction overpasses only at Western Ave. and (Phase II) N. Harvard. However, future status of ex-CSX freight berth under Cambridge St. re: Mass Pike straightening and future street grid infill @ Beacon Park are unclear. All approximate options for getting across the river into Harvard Sq. are shown: street-running (interim solution), ex- Red Line tunnel, busway.

Id love to see a way to get it down Arsenal st.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Id love to see a way to get it down Arsenal st.
????

Why would you ever want to do that with the Harvard spur? The whole point is to have a radial route straight to Harvard Square.


Arsenal St. is what the Watertown Branch out of Porter Sq. is for. That has nothing to do with the Urban Ring; it's an extension of the Union Branch. Landbanked ROW ends at School St. right across the street from the Arsenal, and then 0.8 miles / 1-2 stops street-running down Arsenal to reach Watertown Square.

You'd never, ever attempt the same by going down Western Ave. with some sort of outright replacement for the 70 bus. Deliver rapid transit to Watertown/Newton Corner bus hub and auxiliary rapid transit to Harvard bus hub and the 70 gets its loads redistributed so that it operates way better as an Allston-Watertown local bus. Or can get augmented/segmented with shorter, more reliable runs.


Ridership pipes to transfer nodes is where Reimagined Green does its heavy lifting. Other than legacy stuff like the C and the past-BU portion of B it's generally not doing the job of a local bus slogging it out through purely local stops. And that's exactly why new appendages like the UR Harvard Branch zero straight in on linkage points, and not simply picking a street corridor like Arsenal and running outbound until it fizzes out.
 

Tallguy

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A UR question....
So assuming use of the GJ and a Harvard spur, burying the B and a D/E connection at BV, what are the technical issues about connecting the UR by branching off the B just west of Kenmore and connecting with the C/D tunnels underneath and use the loop? I have seen a lot of talk of alternatives that all seem to have fatal flaws, but I have seen little about using the loop. I know that it is not the straightest route in the world, but still faster than the 66, especially with the fresh hell that Harvard will create in Allston.
 

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