Crazy Transit Pitches

Arlington

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The garage's proximity to the brook ...the brook's level of hands-on environmental maintenance and monitoring ...road salt and oil slick ...City of Cambridge support...
Can I ask for the bottom line here too? The bottom line for a question of "When's the last time anyone asked the EPA?" will be a four digit year or a calendar date, and not much more.
 

ulrichomega

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I think I'm out on this current conversation. F-Line has repeatedly moved goalposts, refused to admit when he's wrong, and is just short of personal insults. Not to mention that he has repeatedly changed his reasons why this isn't practical when challenged while constantly putting words into my/Arlington's mouths.
 

George_Apley

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I think I'm out on this current conversation. F-Line has repeatedly moved goalposts, refused to admit when he's wrong, and is just short of personal insults. Not to mention that he has repeatedly changed his reasons why this isn't practical when challenged while constantly putting words into my/Arlington's mouths.
Tbh we all need to cool it. Reasoning can change as resources are looked up, which is exactly what he did with the EIS data. F-Line could acknowledge corrections better, but ultimately you’re annoyed by his style. I disagree that he’s moved the goal posts, but rather the debate changed. His points (which were similar to mine as well) are well-taken about why it wouldn't make any sense to swap red/green alignments between Minuteman/Fitchburg, which is how the whole convo got started.

We can talk about tone and delivery, but often arguments get heated when people feel like F-Line is raining on their thought-experiment parade, which always leads to a deeper debate about what this thread is for. I’m more of a pragmatist, so I totally get F-Line’s critical examinations of Crazy Transit Pitches. If people just want to toss around thought-experiments without being engaged critically, they should probably say so up front.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Tbh we all need to cool it. Reasoning can change as resources are looked up, which is exactly what he did with the EIS data. F-Line could acknowledge corrections better, but ultimately you’re annoyed by his style. I disagree that he’s moved the goal posts, but rather the debate changed. His points (which were similar to mine as well) are well-taken about why it wouldn't make any sense to swap red/green alignments between Minuteman/Fitchburg, which is how the whole convo got started.

We can talk about tone and delivery, but often arguments get heated when people feel like F-Line is raining on their thought-experiment parade, which always leads to a deeper debate about what this thread is for. I’m more of a pragmatist, so I totally get F-Line’s critical examinations of Crazy Transit Pitches. If people just want to toss around thought-experiments without being engaged critically, they should probably say so up front.
Yes...god...thank you. There is nothing wrong with making an ambitious pitch, but there's got to be something...an under-served need, a growth segment...motivating the pitch. Sometimes someone comes in and says X audience needs Y services but doesn't have a fully-formed idea of how to route it, or it runs into escalating problems, or whatever. It still ends up a productive exercise to hash it out in discussion because we know what the build is trying to do and for whom, and have lots to learn by discussing it. Whatever disagreements there are on best way to civilly engineer it at least stay grounded in a mission statement.

There's no such grounding with a pitch like "I acknowledge Alt. A does everything I want it to without negative impacts, but I'm going with Alt. B that makes a big rubble pile for 3x the money because Y.O.L.O." Two pages of thread go by in shape-shifting fashion because we don't even know to what end the latest micro-argument is about, tempers flare, mission creep gets introduced as counterpoints to arguments never made...and at the end of it all we still don't have any idea who the build is for. It's like when the height fetishists in the Dev Forum propose a supertall in Dorchester without saying who in the next 50 years would actually pay market rate lease for the square footage. It really isn't that hard to stop and attach a need to it all.


To whit:

Can I ask for the bottom line here too? The bottom line for a question of "When's the last time anyone asked the EPA?" will be a four digit year or a calendar date, and not much more.
https://foiaonline.gov/foiaonline/action/public/home

^Nothing's stopping you from figuring out that one on your own. Be sure to also submit a request for a copy of the engineering assessment on that "failed" garage foundation while you're at it. We wouldn't want any more unmoored goalposts flying through the air, would we?
 

Arlington

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^ Or you can just say (admit) "I don't know." That's a perfectly fine bottom line too, and more productive.
 

George_Apley

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^ Yeah. None of us know everything and there's no pressure to know everything. It's important to frame what you're 'pretty sure you know to be true', differently from how you frame what you 'think is true, but aren't sure', differently from how you frame 'spitballing'...
 

Charlie_mta

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If enough money is spent, I'm pretty sure it's doable. Hell, you can deep-bore a tunnel through the whole area and not worry about the surface issues,
 

George_Apley

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Back to pitches... IF Green were to someday go to Waltham via punting the Commuter Rail to Central Mass through Waltham, where does the Commuter Rail rejoin the Fitchburg Line? A new junction right at the existing bridge crossing (west of Benchmark), or by building new tracks east of Benchmark that travel south then curve up to the Fitchburg ROW?

Also thinking about where 128 access to the new Weston/128 station would likely be. Split access roads off from the Route 20 interchange with a garage on the state(?)-owned land east of the highway?
 

guitarguynboston

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I know it probably would upset alot of communities but I wish the Fitchburg Line was straightened out more. If it was possible, which I'm assuming it's not, it would help cut down on the trip time from one end to the other. I still don't get why they built that new stop after Fitchburg. The trip time was already really long and the new station isn't much of a park and ride. Heck when they rebuilt and moved the North Leominster stop they should have added more parking then they did. It's right off of RT2.
 

George_Apley

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I know it probably would upset alot of communities but I wish the Fitchburg Line was straightened out more. If it was possible, which I'm assuming it's not, it would help cut down on the trip time from one end to the other. I still don't get why they built that new stop after Fitchburg. The trip time was already really long and the new station isn't much of a park and ride. Heck when they rebuilt and moved the North Leominster stop they should have added more parking then they did. It's right off of RT2.
What do you mean by "straighter"? The ROW is shaped the way it is because it a) hits the pockets of density along the corridor, such as they've been since the RR was laid out, and b) follows the geography.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Back to pitches... IF Green were to someday go to Waltham via punting the Commuter Rail to Central Mass through Waltham, where does the Commuter Rail rejoin the Fitchburg Line? A new junction right at the existing bridge crossing (west of Benchmark), or by building new tracks east of Benchmark that travel south then curve up to the Fitchburg ROW?

Also thinking about where 128 access to the new Weston/128 station would likely be. Split access roads off from the Route 20 interchange with a garage on the state(?)-owned land east of the highway?
Probably south. Stony Brook is the only wetlands; all of the ponds are former retention ponds for the quarry that used to be there. The proposed site for the Fitchburg multimodal station uses the Biogen driveway off an existing light on 20. Bridging the brook and hooking to the other driveway off 117 to balance the egress traffic is something the station coalition is exploring, but might be too big an ask. MassHighway has designed plans to reboot Exit 26 with frontage roads to 117 to keep that traffic off city streets.

If the near-term station is not too far south on the parcel the new Central Mass merge should flow right into the pre-existing platform. The GL add-on platform wouldn't be space-intensive, and the storage yard can be on some grassy remediated quarry land next to the Central Mass overpass.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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What do you mean by "straighter"? The ROW is shaped the way it is because it a) hits the pockets of density along the corridor, such as they've been since the RR was laid out, and b) follows the geography.
Yes...past Shirley you're well into the Worcester Hills and the ROW is shaped by hilltops way too steep to climb. Pretty much all the way to Deerfield the line is bolted to meandering river valleys out of necessity from the surrounding terrain.

Turn on Google Terrain View. It's very instructive re: what few options the topography leaves. Wachusett exists because buses from Gardner can get there quicker on 2 than a reopened Fitchburg Line direct stop would be able to traverse the enormous Ashburnham horseshoe curve and reach downtown Gardner.
 

George_Apley

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Probably south. Stony Brook is the only wetlands; all of the ponds are former retention ponds for the quarry that used to be there. The proposed site for the Fitchburg multimodal station uses the Biogen driveway off an existing light on 20. Bridging the brook and hooking to the other driveway off 117 to balance the egress traffic is something the station coalition is exploring, but might be too big an ask. MassHighway has designed plans to reboot Exit 26 with frontage roads to 117 to keep that traffic off city streets.

If the near-term station is not too far south on the parcel the new Central Mass merge should flow right into the pre-existing platform. The GL add-on platform wouldn't be space-intensive, and the storage yard can be on some grassy remediated quarry land next to the Central Mass overpass.
I'm interested in the 117 frontage roads. Google Maps makes it look like northbound would require widening the Central Mass bridge footings and deal with that weird little storage property on Spencer Street. Southbound I have no idea how they'd do it, unless they can figure out how to get a ramp up to Bear Hill Road just south of National Tire and Battery. I don't have the mind of an engineer though...
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I'm interested in the 117 frontage roads. Google Maps makes it look like northbound would require widening the Central Mass bridge footings and deal with that weird little storage property on Spencer Street. Southbound I have no idea how they'd do it, unless they can figure out how to get a ramp up to Bear Hill Road just south of National Tire and Battery. I don't have the mind of an engineer though...
http://www.128corporatealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Waltham-Traffic-Com_Spec-Mtg-April-26.pdf

This is from Spring 2017. I don't think any design changes have been announced since then. P. 4-5 show:

  • ...how currently dead-end Green St. gets squared up with the Bear Hill Rd. intersection
  • Green being turned into a bidirectional feeder to a modified Exit 26 rotary.
  • ...how currently overburdened Stow St. gets retired as a thru street.
  • New direct 128 NB entrance ramp from 117 (all that can be added with the cliffs beside the highway)
Note on Google that the junkyard recently closed and is now vacant. Also note there'd be no changes to the Central Mass ROW. The Eversource power line towers leasing out space on it are going to keep it stet except for TBD decisions on a trail crosswalk or footbridge for the Green St. Ext. build.



Here is the targeted project area for the Fitchburg Line station: http://www.128corporatealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Map-of-Proposed-Multi-Modal-Station-on-Fitchburg-MBTA-line.pdf. Not too specific on the exact parcels, but basically northwest of the Exit 26 ramps on undeveloped space on either the Biogen or Benchmark campuses, and possibly split between both sides of the brook since Biogen's side has more space for the platform, Benchmark's more space for parking, and access from both sides would be most beneficial for traffic-spreading and bus connections.
 

Wash

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What if we replaced the 53 with either a trolleybus or a full electric bus, let it run in the green line median on Comm Ave and board at the green line stations (presumably with some sort of guideway), then let it run into the central subway to Kenmore station proper, utilizing the short-turn loop there?

Edit: Looking at the track layout, this would definitely be insane.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Allow me to do this to vent about my morning commute:

Grade separate Ashland.
What are you doing posting that in Crazy Transit Pitches? That's entirely too sane. :giggle:


Yes...absolutely. And unlike Framingham where the adjacent junction and crisscrossing aqueducts rule it impossible, Ashland is a very straightforward one as the running room exists to change grades. Rail-over-road @ Main, half-raise of the rails / half-dip of the road @ Cherry. Do as 3-track width spans to future-proof, embankment/bridge construction staged half-width at a time, temp-shifted single track on the ground for retaining service during 1st-half construction, then single-track up above on the completed half while they finish the second half. Cherry is outright closed during construction duration to keep the police OT in-check. Nothing staging-wise you don't see with state roadway construction all the time. Pricey as a budget item because of the tonnage of fill required and the fairly wide linear project area to permit, but not pricey in any absolute sense because the property disruption is minimal and there's no wetlands/utilities/unusual obstructions to incorporate into the design. It's former 3-track ROW because of the ex-NYNH&H Hopkinton Branch out of Milford that ran through these crossings on its own track to terminate at the old station the New Haven shared w/Boston & Albany...so the temp-shifted third track won't imperil the adjacent Stone's Public House or Ashland Threading Spa buildings, either.

Town of Ashland has long supported exactly this plan and has it pasted all over scores of downtown vision documents...but they just hear crickets from the state every time it comes up. This will be non-optional with RER to Worcester service levels and full Amtrak Inland service on top of the large/stable slate of CSX freight churning in/out of Framingham all day. It's not the worst feasibly eliminable grade crossing concern on the system (those are Chelsea cluster on the Eastern Route and the West Medford pair on Lowell), and it is at the pricing midrange when it comes to elimination...but it has one of the most straightforward fixes with fewest potential nasty surprises so would hold to its budget more faithfully than some of the others. If Baker/Pollack would just get off the fence about the Inland Route it's a line item ripe for filing a federal grant app tied to the intercity & freight considerations. Probably would be rejected a few times and not be approved until some later administration, but when FRA or FTA grants are concerned getting cut down in the later rounds ends up improving chances on resubmission so playing the medium-long game faithfully on a grant app can bring results.
 

Wash

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With all this talk about AFC 2.0 getting delayed/possibly having to order new Charliecard machines for GLX now...

How much money would the MBTA save if they aborted AFC 2.0, and instead started planning for a fare-free future? How much money would the T save every year by not having to hire people to count/transport all its money, not having to maintain fare machines, etc?

This would have the added benefit of immediately letting the T implement all-door boarding on all buses and light rail routes instantly with no modifications to existing vehicles or work schedules. This would be amazing.
 

stefal

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With all this talk about AFC 2.0 getting delayed/possibly having to order new Charliecard machines for GLX now...

How much money would the MBTA save if they just abandoned AFC 2.0, and slowly started phasing out fares on the rest of the subway lines and bus routes? How much money would the T save, not having to hire people to count/transport all its money, not having to maintain fare machines, etc?

This would have the added benefit of immediately letting the T implement all-door boarding on all buses and light rail routes instantly with no modifications to existing vehicles or work schedules.
They'd lose $670m+ of the 770m+ they make in operating revenues, and probably not save much long term in terms of paying employees by abolishing fares.

AFC 2.0 is about $700 million, though and will probably balloon following all these delays..
 

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