Assembly Sq <-> Casino Footbridge

Brattle Loop

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For gaming, I'd like to revisit that vote. I don't think we had the facts. The fix was in.
I'm having a hard time interpreting this as anything other than saying, at best, that Massachusetts voters are ignorant dupes who had the wool pulled so completely over their eyes that they were 'bamboozled' into voting yes on the gambling initiative, to, at worst, at least implying that the process was somehow rigged. Some evidence, especially if the implication was meant to be towards the latter end of the spectrum, would be in order. As to revisiting the vote, that's not likely to happen. (Though if I were a lawyer, I'd be salivating at the opportunities trying to retroactively un-legalize a business would present for billable hours.)

As a precursor to another vote, I'd like an honest cost benefit analysis of... how many more people declared bankruptcy and financially wrecked their families? I'd like a count of how many people who should have known better have fallen-- and fallen hard? I'd like to know how many extra cops had to be hired in surrounding towns? How much extra stolen merch ended up on ebay? How many kids lunch money went to the tables? How many guys ended a losing streak with a pistol? And how much we all spent of their emergency room visit before they died? There's revenue and there's blood money. They pick a lot of pockets to fill theirs. But we get 'a taste'. Libertarian delusions.

And I don't hate the player, I hate the game.

I look at casinos like an asshole mobster neighbor who buys off the cops and get away with anything. As long as they stay in their own backyard, allegedly they're not hurting us. Once they start poking the Commonwealth's ribs, we cease to function properly. We are waaaay to glib about what has happened and keeps happening.
All relevant fodder for a political debate over gambling and the effects on society it produces. That debate is a.) not happening on any meaningful political scale in the Commonwealth and, more importantly b.) not germane to this thread. The casino exists, there does not appear to be any realistic prospect that it is going to cease to exist anytime soon, and for so long as it remains a legal business, it shouldn't be excluded from public infrastructure considerations just because some people find its business controversial.
 

Hubman

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I'm confused by the video you linked to... you can't put a one-piece prefab bridge down across the locks, because boats still have to get through.
Just out of curiosity, what kinds of boats traverse the dam frequently? I can't imagine any commercial vessels making it that far up the river and I don't know of any regularly-scheduled pleasure or sightseeing boats that run on the Mystic.
 

DBM

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Just out of curiosity, what kinds of boats traverse the dam frequently? I can't imagine any commercial vessels making it that far up the river and I don't know of any regularly-scheduled pleasure or sightseeing boats that run on the Mystic.
Not being a nearby resident, I can't tell you that--but what I can tell you is that is presence online of the NOAA Atlantic Chart kit free for downloading is a wondrous wondrous thing*.

Here's the NOAA chart for inner Boston Harbor, w/ Mystic estuary in extreme upper-left. Dredged channel for boats drawing 33 feet, nearly up to the Route 99 bridge. I never would've guessed. But note how rapidly the estuary shoals upstream from there--only a 15-ft. deep channel right at the approaches to the casino; the casino ferries are moored in only 8 ft. at low tide, and nothing more than 8 feet at low tide upstream from the casino, on either fork.

Finally, two yacht clubs upstream of the dam, I see from researching right now: Mystic Wellington, and Riverside Yacht Club. Both websites show that the fleets patronizing both locations are exactly the kind of shallow-drafting pleasurecraft you'd expect--I doubt any boatowner is dumb enough to keep a boat that draws more than 5' at either club. (If it would even be permitted?)


*[Until the self-loathing really kicks in re: the ratio of nautical excursions planned with it vs. the number executed.]
 

BeyondRevenue

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Just out of curiosity, what kinds of boats traverse the dam frequently? I can't imagine any commercial vessels making it that far up the river and I don't know of any regularly-scheduled pleasure or sightseeing boats that run on the Mystic.
We need numbers
 

Brattle Loop

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We need numbers
If they're kept somewhere, it's not somewhere easily found via Google search.

I'm not all that certain what difference it makes, though. When it comes to the question of building a bridge over or in the vicinity of the dam, the first question (which to my knowledge has no known official answer because it hasn't come up) is whether it can have a fixed-span clearance of less than the 30 feet of the bridges immediately upstream and downstream of the dam. If the answer to that question is no, that's the end of the discussion. It'd require either a high(ish) bridge, or some kind of moveable bridge. At that point, the number and size of the vessels moving through would become relevant to determination of which type of bridge to build (because if a drawbridge is going to have to open frequently, it becomes a hassle). And neither of those options permits a quick, easy, and cheap low-level crossing.
 

stick n move

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If the state wants to take a decade to plan then buy a hulking concrete craptacular instead of putting up a glorified gantry this summer, so be it.
I just want access. Yesterday.
And yes. Whatever is built it has to be west of the existing CR bridge and join the actual NST, ideally in a straight line, not by way of a pointless Casinotopia detour.

One more quick and dirty... complete with approach paths and a headhouse extension... and mine doesn't block the would-be soccer pitch
View attachment 19528
When they do build Chelsea GLX/SLX, I hope they put it on top of a new dam. AED is hurting. Not that I'll be around to see it...
I think something like this should at least be on the table for them to flesh out options. Brattle loop says the Eastern Route railroad bridge and the Orange Line/Western Route bridge to Wellington are 30 ft, I wonder what the grades to the run ups to a 30ft immovable bridge would be. They could probably snake in a few switchbacks so you dont have to have it go really far beyond the lock. Maybe after all that and having to modify the lock and dam the costs come out as a wash in the end, idk, but it sounds plausable and at least it leaves the ROW open for a future rail extension even if it does so we dont have to build it twice.
 

Brattle Loop

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I think something like this should at least be on the table for them to flesh out options. Brattle loop says the Eastern Route railroad bridge and the Orange Line/Western Route bridge to Wellington are 30 ft, I wonder what the grades to the run ups to a 30ft immovable bridge would be. They could probably snake in a few switchbacks so you dont have to have it go really far beyond the lock. Maybe after all that and having to modify the lock and dam the costs come out as a wash in the end, idk, but it sounds plausable and at least it leaves the ROW open for a future rail extension even if it does so we dont have to build it twice.
Ehh, if you're going up to 30' clearance it doesn't really matter whether you interface with the dam at all or not (the important part being don't stupidly screw up the old rail ROW for no good reason).

ADA maximum ramp grade is, I believe, 8.33% (1:12), which would nominally mean you'd need 360 feet to go from the ground to 30 feet. In actuality it'd be more than that because there are rules requiring level landings every so often (though if you're starting from the Assembly punch-out, you wouldn't need the full 30-foot rise). There's easily enough room to reach a 30-foot clearance from the Assembly punch-out for any of a variety of bridge routings, and you really only would even conceptually need that full clearance around the river channel. There's plenty of room on the east side of the river (pretty much regardless of where you touch down) for adequate ramps.

For clarity, I'll point out that I don't know if you'd actually be required to have a 30-foot clearance. If there's information that would answer that question, I can't find it. So that figure is conjecture on my part based on the fact that the Eastern Route bridge and the Wellington/Orange Line bridge both have those as their official charted clearance. Obviously if you can get approval for a lower bridge, that'd be fine.

I don't have any particular objection to a dam-routed high bridge, or moveable bridge, other than I think it would be unnecessarily difficult and expensive to build given that it would by definition have to interface with the dam, whereas if you built to the east you've got all that room and you avoid having to interface with the Eastern Route if you come down on its west, which is what you should want to do because that's what preserves the old ROW. I've been rather stridently objecting to BeyondRevenue's contentions that the dam bridge could be assembled cheaply and easily, partially because of a lack of specifics and mostly because the proposal has appeared to ignore some of the very real issues with trying to build a bridge over a navigable waterway let alone both a navigable waterway and an operating dam.
 

BeyondRevenue

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I was out riding last weekend and came to the Costco side of the dam. The only living thing moving was the gang of 30 geese who’ve taken up residence behind the rusted fence.
Damn shame I couldn’t cross there. With all the engineers in this town nobody can figure out how to build a couple yard wide 40’ spans on a slider… or a hinge… or a counterbalance or something awesome. How are we incapable of doing this without massive funding? Are we that weak?
 

Brattle Loop

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I was out riding last weekend and came to the Costco side of the dam. The only living thing moving was the gang of 30 geese who’ve taken up residence behind the rusted fence.
Damn shame I couldn’t cross there. With all the engineers in this town nobody can figure out how to build a couple yard wide 40’ spans on a slider… or a hinge… or a counterbalance or something awesome. How are we incapable of doing this without massive funding? Are we that weak?
We've discussed this before, it's not and has never been that this is some kind of unsolvable engineering problem. The river is a navigable waterway with everything that comes with that. It would not be particularly hard, from an engineering standpoint, to devise some form of moveable bridge (novel or less so) across the locks. I do not know whether it would be particularly hard to make the necessary policy or infrastructure changes to allow a public way through what is currently non-public-access property (well, by land anyway) over the dam. It might well be impossible to prevent the usual federal preference for water traffic priority, meaning that whenever anything wanted to pass through the locks, the bridge would have to be moved out of the way (cutting off the land crossing) to permit that traffic to pass, for as long as that took.

No one in their right mind in a position to actually push a pedestrian crossing project forward is going to come into it thinking that the best solution is a moveable bridge that would be rendered impassible at unpredictable and irregular intervals whenever a vessel wanted to transit the locks, especially not when both that problem and the also-extremely-hard problem of trying to get, say, a time-exemption for blocks where water traffic didn't have priority are both rendered completely moot by a high bridge. (Especially when the distance to the casino in particular, i.e. that large attraction with the deep pockets that might be cajoled into ponying up some funding and saving the taxpayers some expense, is basically doubled if you go via the dam from Assembly versus via a high bridge.)

Nothing has changed since the last time this topic came up. There are numerous political, legal, and logistical reasons why going via the dam (especially as a movable span) is a distinctly subpar option, and no wistful gazing over the river while lamenting some supposed weakness or lack of imagination is going to change those things. Progress means addressing those concerns and not just wishing them away, because, unfortunately, that only works in the God Mode thread.
 

BeyondRevenue

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I'm dusting off an old thread because the problem still exists. Obviously nothing has changed. That's what I'm saying.
I don't have a lobbyist in my pocket so, no, I cannot give you a solution to fit the requisite acceptable level of personal action.
As for the cheap solution I keep circling back to, I could tolerate a five minute delay every three hours. It's a reasonable trade off to save 70 million - or whatever an UltimateBridgeTM goes for these days.

Distintictly subpar is editorializing. You are letting some version of perfect get in the way of good enough. Something cheap soon is better than nothing until the distant future when the commonwealth decides we should have nice things again.
 

Brattle Loop

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Distintictly subpar is editorializing
Yes, it's an opinion. This is a transit forum, not the New York Times, I didn't see the need to make a bright-line distinction between analysis and opinion-commentary.

I'm dusting off an old thread because the problem still exists. Obviously nothing has changed. That's what I'm saying.
I don't have a lobbyist in my pocket so, no, I cannot give you a solution to fit the requisite acceptable level of personal action.
As for the cheap solution I keep circling back to, I could tolerate a five minute delay every three hours. It's a reasonable trade off to save 70 million - or whatever an UltimateBridgeTM goes for these days.
Speaking of editorializing....

"Cheap": unsupported by evidence. You assume (perhaps not without some logical basis, but without anything approaching citable sources) that some form of movable spans across an active lock with three chambers (and with a structure heavily constraining any even theoretical span locations between the center lock chamber and the large eastern lock chamber) would be cost-effective. Maybe, maybe not. (After all, it's not as though the locks and dam were designed to support a pedestrian bridge, fixed or otherwise. If there's a solution that's lightweight/low-impact enough and that's still cheap, identify it. "Go do better science" handwaving isn't a viable transit policy strategy outside one of the Portal games.)

"Five minute delay every three hours": apparently also unsupported by evidence. I couldn't find traffic statistics for the Earhart Dam locks back in December the last time this thread was active, I'm not inclined to try again. As far as I can tell, though, the locks remain (as is relatively usual for navigable waterways) subject to a federal prioritization of marine traffic, meaning it's not "opens for five minutes or so every few hours on a fixed schedule" it's "opens whenever someone in a boat wants to go through, meaning that if the traffic level's high enough (like, in the good weather when people would be inclined to use a pedestrian route) it's really important to know if it is a boat every now and then, or if the bridge(s) will be impassible ten times an hour on nice days.

You are letting some version of perfect get in the way of good enough. Something cheap soon is better than nothing until the distant future when the commonwealth decides we should have nice things again.
Crap is crap. Something that doesn't work, or, worse, something that may be impossible, is not a solution to a problem. As I stated repeatedly last time this discussion came up, I'm not bullheadedly opposed to a dam-routed bridge, even a moveable one. I identified a number of questions that would have to be answered to determine whether such a project was a.) possible and b.) viable on utility and cost grounds. The questions weren't answered. (Note that's not intended as a criticism. I've got no idea who would have some of the necessary information, if it exists at all. I doubt anyone has data on whether the dam can support a bridge, or how much work it would take to make it so it could, because it's never been officially proposed let alone studied.) Cheap and soon is fine (as long as it's not self-defeating like South Coast Rail Phase I might well be), but despite your intensity of belief that it would be those things, you've never managed to show so much as a hint of relevant evidence to support that conclusion. Want to try making some progress? There's interested parties with respect to a pedestrian bridge, in the casino, the T, Assembly, and the surrounding business and residents and their representatives in government. There's ongoing consideration of a (fixed, at this point) pedestrian span. Contact people, suggest they study the dam route, then at the very least we could get answers to whether it's feasible at all even theoretically. Much as I wish it were otherwise, experience has shown that complaints and arguments on ArchBoston don't magically trigger transportation policy shifts, no matter how well-argued they are.
 

Charlie_mta

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What I'd like to see as a new Mystic River bridge is a combo pedestrian/BRT bridge downstream/adjacent to the existing Eastern Route RR bridge. The BRT part of the bridge would be used short-term for BRT serving Everett and tying into the Silverline at Chelsea, with connection to Sullivan station on its south end. Later convert the BRT part of the new bridge to LRV tying into the Urban Ring and West Station, as well as Everett and Chelsea. I think this has all been discussed before upthread a ways, but anyway, I see that as the best multi-modal, future-proofed new bridge over the Mystic, with the most bang for the buck in a 20 year period.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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What I'd like to see as a new Mystic River bridge is a combo pedestrian/BRT bridge downstream/adjacent to the existing Eastern Route RR bridge. The BRT part of the bridge would be used short-term for BRT serving Everett and tying into the Silverline at Chelsea, with connection to Sullivan station on its south end. Later convert the BRT part of the new bridge to LRV tying into the Urban Ring and West Station, as well as Everett and Chelsea. I think this has all been discussed before upthread a ways, but anyway, I see that as the best multi-modal, future-proofed new bridge over the Mystic, with the most bang for the buck in a 20 year period.
It can't be south/downstream. The Everett freight trains need access from the south side of the ROW. Any BRT/LRT Urban Ring route has to hug the north side of the ROW to Sweetser Circle, then change sides to the south en route to Chelsea Station.

This can be accomplished by converting the existing 1989 Eastern Route span to LRT, then compacting the side sidewalks (which are there as a hedge against freight train engine stalls on the oversteep grade) to net a bike path on the other side of a chain link fence. The bridge is plenty wide enough for both. Then construct a new RR bridge over the old Draw 7 footings, which would be slightly less lengthy and straighter than the current bridge.
 

Charlie_mta

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It can't be south/downstream. The Everett freight trains need access from the south side of the ROW. Any BRT/LRT Urban Ring route has to hug the north side of the ROW to Sweetser Circle, then change sides to the south en route to Chelsea Station.

This can be accomplished by converting the existing 1989 Eastern Route span to LRT, then compacting the side sidewalks (which are there as a hedge against freight train engine stalls on the oversteep grade) to net a bike path on the other side of a chain link fence. The bridge is plenty wide enough for both. Then construct a new RR bridge over the old Draw 7 footings, which would be slightly less lengthy and straighter than the current bridge.
You're right about the upstream location for the new bridge, In any case, a combo pedestrian/BRT bridge is what MassDOT should be pursuing instead of the current plan to build a pedestrian-only bridge. If they're going to all the work and cost of design, permitting and construction of a ped-only bridge, and then build an additional LRV bridge later, why not instead future-proof the thing now and get the bridge they will need in the near and long-term, plus the bonus of a BRT route in the short-term.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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You're right about the upstream location for the new bridge, In any case, a combo pedestrian/BRT bridge is what MassDOT should be pursuing instead of the current plan to build a pedestrian-only bridge. If they're going to all the work and cost of design, permitting and construction of a ped-only bridge, and then build an additional LRV bridge later, why not instead future-proof the thing now and get the bridge they will need in the near and long-term, plus the bonus of a BRT route in the short-term.
I'm not sure you'd save enough space to have a path-worthy sidewalk on the bridge with BRT because BRT carriageways are so much wider than LRT tracks. The only reason the bridge could support a path with LRT conversion is because the RR tracks are more widely-spaced than normal RR tracks (with LRT being able to go tighter-spaced than even "normal" RR) and each track has a comically wide emergency egress...all "safety" conditions the former Guilford/PAR levied on the '89 span's design.
 

Charlie_mta

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I'm not sure you'd save enough space to have a path-worthy sidewalk on the bridge with BRT because BRT carriageways are so much wider than LRT tracks. The only reason the bridge could support a path with LRT conversion is because the RR tracks are more widely-spaced than normal RR tracks (with LRT being able to go tighter-spaced than even "normal" RR) and each track has a comically wide emergency egress...all "safety" conditions the former Guilford/PAR levied on the '89 span's design.
Not to quibble about a few feet, but measuring on Google Earth, the width from inside of guardwall to inside of guardwall on the new GL viaduct east of Lechmere Station measures 26.5 ft wide. By comparison, the Chelsea busway pavement just east of the Chelsea station is 28.8 feet wide, and that includes a couple of feet each side for paved shy distance outside the fog line stripes. So, basically a BRT bridge would be about 2.5 feet wider than an LRV bridge. I think building a BRT bridge first, with a pedestrian path alongside on the same bridge, could feasibly be converted later to an LRV bridge (with the ped path next to it widened a couple of feet when converted). Even if the proposed ped bridge is built with only the ped bridge superstructure in the first phase, at least build the footings and piers integrally with it in the first phase to accommodate a future superstructure and deck alongside it for BRT or LRV.
 

BeyondRevenue

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You're right about the upstream location for the new bridge, In any case, a combo pedestrian/BRT bridge is what MassDOT should be pursuing instead of the current plan to build a pedestrian-only bridge. If they're going to all the work and cost of design, permitting and construction of a ped-only bridge, and then build an additional LRV bridge later, why not instead future-proof the thing now and get the bridge they will need in the near and long-term, plus the bonus of a BRT route in the short-term.
I would love Ped/BRT to happen on the North side. Maybe even Ped/BRT/Dam!

For anyone not fully immersed, here's an annotated image of the area. The yellow is existing bike friendly trails.
Also, since nobody offered to bring any stats or info to this potluck, I went down the rabbit hole to get some light reading for y'all:

Bicycle & Pedestrian Crossing of the Mystic River, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. June 2009 -- Original study and AE Dam specs!
(Even though it's 13 years old, it's the most informative doc I've found on this subject. Spoiler: Access would probably require new construction over the dam or somewhere else)

Mystic River Master Plan findings from Nov 2009. Echoes the VHB study in crayon

A 2019 PDF from the Commonwealth outlining the proposals and some feedback/endorsements. Informative, but seems Casino infected <</editorial>>

Also for those who like a good laugh at the commonwealth's expense, Page 56 of this document has a funny number about how much the casino bridge will cost. Kinda low I'm thinkin'.
 

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BeyondRevenue

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I'm not sure you'd save enough space to have a path-worthy sidewalk on the bridge with BRT because BRT carriageways are so much wider than LRT tracks. The only reason the bridge could support a path with LRT conversion is because the RR tracks are more widely-spaced than normal RR tracks (with LRT being able to go tighter-spaced than even "normal" RR) and each track has a comically wide emergency egress...all "safety" conditions the former Guilford/PAR levied on the '89 span's design.
Wrapping up... if we could step in and build this today,
A Ped/Bike bridge attached/adjacent to a GLX-ready BRT bridge on the North Side of the existing Commuter Rail bridge would be the way to go,
OR
A normal commuter rail bridge south of the existing bridge then adapting the existing bridge to Ped/Bike/GLX-ready BRT
I'll take either of those enthusiastically. And I'll be dead before either are built.

F-Line: Are these the ROW target tracks you are thinking of lining up on for through service to Sullivan and beyond?
 

Charlie_mta

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Wrapping up... if we could step in and build this today,
A Ped/Bike bridge attached/adjacent to a GLX-ready BRT bridge on the North Side of the existing Commuter Rail bridge would be the way to go,
OR
A normal commuter rail bridge south of the existing bridge then adapting the existing bridge to Ped/Bike/GLX-ready BRT
I'll take either of those enthusiastically. And I'll be dead before either are built.
I tend to agree that it will be a long while before any kind of BRT or LRV bridge is built there. All I would ask is that a new pedestrian bridge not preclude or screw up the space needed for a future LRV bridge.
 

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