Crazy Transit Pitches

Riverside

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Easier said than done, but let's explore...

Watertown:
  • The only practical way to get to Watertown is by extending GLX out of Union to Porter and from there reactivating the Watertown Branch ROW, which splits off of Fitchburg at Fresh Pond Mall. At the Watertown Mall it would probably have to run on Arsenal Street to Watertown Square.
  • Watertown is currently benefiting from bus-priority lanes on Mount Auburn Street between Watertown and Harvard. Arsenal needs similar treatment.
At this point, this features almost as a given to every Future MBTA map I sketch. It's grade-separated until Arlington St/Nichols Ave in East Watertown, and Arsenal is wide enough that you could probably swing dedicated lanes. Certainly at least to East Watertown, it's a no-brainer.

Much less realistic, but ever so often discussed, is a Blue Line extension from Kenmore via the Mass Pike and North Beacon Street (or North Beacon all the way) to Watertown Square and then vaguely-handwavily to Waltham beyond. Abstractly, there's some real sense to this -- from Kenmore, this is indeed one of the clear transit cavities that would be accessible, and rapid-transitifying the Boston & Albany along the Pike is not going to help you much in Watertown, so there would still be a "niche." But... it would be astronomically expensive and challenging, and both Watertown and Waltham alike have such easier access from the north.

Everett:
  • No easy way to bring rail to Everett. It gets to God-Mode pretty quick.
  • Urban Ring Northern Route would give busses from Everett another linkage to more locations.
  • Bus Lanes on Broadway are helping speed busses to Wellington/Sullivan
I've been noodling for months on whether a super pro-transit local government would somehow be able to run tracks the 1 mile from Sweetser Circle up Broadway to Ferry Street. As can be seen on Google Maps now, parking is being eliminated for (peak only?) bus lanes. San Francisco's MUNI uses street-running LRT with center-running bus lanes between general traffic lanes... but on streets that are a bit wider than Broadway. The best I've been able to come up with is... maaaaaaybe you could do it? It would obviously be easier if you could reduce the general traffic to one-way only, but there really isn't a good parallel street to pair one-way with. So there's a good chance you'd have to contend with street-running mixed traffic LRT, which is pretty much terrible.

That all being said, I think it's worth noting that it's only (literally) that last mile would poses possibly-insurmountable challenges. LRT to Sweetser Circle would be a project, but hardly the most complicated one -- run along the commuter rail ROW down to Sullivan, hook over through the yards into the GLX expansion, and either run trains into the Central Subway or down the Grand Junction. (If you're stuck with mixed-traffic street-running, I'd say better to send down the Grand Junction so as to reduce the impact of the inevitable delays.)

I agree that rail to Everett doesn't have an easy way, but I'm a little more skeptical that you have to jump to God-Mode so quickly. ("You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.")
 

George_Apley

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Much less realistic, but ever so often discussed, is a Blue Line extension from Kenmore via the Mass Pike and North Beacon Street (or North Beacon all the way) to Watertown Square and then vaguely-handwavily to Waltham beyond. Abstractly, there's some real sense to this -- from Kenmore, this is indeed one of the clear transit cavities that would be accessible, and rapid-transitifying the Boston & Albany along the Pike is not going to help you much in Watertown, so there would still be a "niche." But... it would be astronomically expensive and challenging, and both Watertown and Waltham alike have such easier access from the north.
Yes, the tough part is alignment off of the Pike ROW and into Watertown. I plotted out a map of Blue Line possibilities that shows a bunch of potential routes... all of them are a tough sell. You might have some other ones.

Waltham is not going to work from Watertown. The ROW is too winding and encroached with too many grade-crossings and river crossings. Hit Waltham with a future GLX out of Porter if it's really ever needed. Otherwise Waltham will be happy with RUR.

I've been noodling for months on whether a super pro-transit local government would somehow be able to run tracks the 1 mile from Sweetser Circle up Broadway to Ferry Street. As can be seen on Google Maps now, parking is being eliminated for (peak only?) bus lanes. San Francisco's MUNI uses street-running LRT with center-running bus lanes between general traffic lanes... but on streets that are a bit wider than Broadway. The best I've been able to come up with is... maaaaaaybe you could do it? It would obviously be easier if you could reduce the general traffic to one-way only, but there really isn't a good parallel street to pair one-way with. So there's a good chance you'd have to contend with street-running mixed traffic LRT, which is pretty much terrible.

That all being said, I think it's worth noting that it's only (literally) that last mile would poses possibly-insurmountable challenges. LRT to Sweetser Circle would be a project, but hardly the most complicated one -- run along the commuter rail ROW down to Sullivan, hook over through the yards into the GLX expansion, and either run trains into the Central Subway or down the Grand Junction. (If you're stuck with mixed-traffic street-running, I'd say better to send down the Grand Junction so as to reduce the impact of the inevitable delays.)

I agree that rail to Everett doesn't have an easy way, but I'm a little more skeptical that you have to jump to God-Mode so quickly. ("You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.")
Fair enough. I'm pretty skeptical of branching street-running as a useful solution to the outlying problems. At least if they're tied into the Green Line as the Urban Ring would likely be. There would already be a 3-way GL split out of Lechmere. Then branching one of those away from the Airport and into Everett seems like it would be a scheduling challenge, especially with one of those routes being a street-car. It's that aspect that separates this from the potential Riverside/Needham split after Newton Highlands.
 

Riverside

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Yes, the tough part is alignment off of the Pike ROW and into Watertown. I plotted out a map of Blue Line possibilities that shows a bunch of potential routes... all of them are a tough sell. You might have some other ones.

Waltham is not going to work from Watertown. The ROW is too winding and encroached with too many grade-crossings and river crossings. Hit Waltham with a future GLX out of Porter if it's really ever needed. Otherwise Waltham will be happy with RUR.
I believe you've covered all of the alignments I've thought of, and I agree with your comments on all of them (based on my quick readthrough). The only way I could ever see any of them happening is if an Amazon-level company decides to move its global headquarters to either Watertown or Waltham and we see an enormous increase in density. Not impossible, but highly improbable.

Fair enough. I'm pretty skeptical of branching street-running as a useful solution to the outlying problems. At least if they're tied into the Green Line as the Urban Ring would likely be. There would already be a 3-way GL split out of Lechmere. Then branching one of those away from the Airport and into Everett seems like it would be a scheduling challenge, especially with one of those routes being a street-car. It's that aspect that separates this from the potential Riverside/Needham split after Newton Highlands.
Yeah, I've been slowly working on a large-scale reimagining of the LRT network to address these concerns, because they're very very real. Hopefully I'll have something ready to post in January, but the tl;dr is that I think the only way you could make it work is if you largely kept Everett streetcars out of the Central Subway, and supplemented them with extra trainsets coming from other branches, i.e. from Porter. The question would be how much benefit is accrued by having rail service that still requires a transfer at Sullivan for a moderate share of the passengers -- even if those transfers are offset by, for example, a one-seat ride to Kendall, Allston and Harvard.

This ties into the larger idea that's underlies my reimagining -- at some point, the needs of a corridor like Everett Broadway, or Allston Commonwealth Ave differ so markedly in character from those of a GLX-to-Woburn, Highland Branch, or a Huntington Subway that we should start imagining different services for each. But more on that in few weeks...

(Or maybe days, if I get stir crazy over Christmas.)
 

Charlie_mta

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Easier said than done, but let's explore...

Watertown:
  • The only practical way to get to Watertown is by extending GLX out of Union to Porter and from there reactivating the Watertown Branch ROW, which splits off of Fitchburg at Fresh Pond Mall. At the Watertown Mall it would probably have to run on Arsenal Street to Watertown Square.
  • Watertown is currently benefiting from bus-priority lanes on Mount Auburn Street between Watertown and Harvard. Arsenal needs similar treatment.
Everett:
  • No easy way to bring rail to Everett. It gets to God-Mode pretty quick.
  • Urban Ring Northern Route would give busses from Everett another linkage to more locations.
  • Bus Lanes on Broadway are helping speed busses to Wellington/Sullivan.
Lexington:
  • Red to Arlington Heights is probably the best we're ever going to get here. There's the slightest possibility that Lexington would accept radically changing the nature of the ROW that currently hosts the Minuteman Path by having Red run alongside... but don't count on it. It's a tough ROW to work with for rapid transit.
  • Better bus service and coverage is absolutely needed for the Commuter Rail gap between Waltham and Woburn.
-- Watertown: I agree with extending GLX out.

-- Lexington: If the Red Line is extended to Arlington Heights, perhaps a single lane BRT route could go from Arlington Heights to Bedford, squeezed in alongside the Minuteman Trail. Intermittent turnouts could be built in to allow two-way use.

--Everett: Greatly increased rail access is doable with an LRT Urban Ring routed as close as possible to the population centers. Here's the route I'm thinking. Green is surface and yellow is elevated. White circles are stations. Revere Beach Parkway is wide and there are very few residences directly abutting it. Also the (alternative route) into Chelsea from Revere Beach Parkway is pretty much all commercial.



A typical section along Revere Beach Parkway would look like this:



Vancouver BC has several lines like this, elevated above wide streets.

Note: edited route map to add alternative route from Revere Beach Parkway into Chelsea.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Here's the MS Paint mockup of the Watertown Branch, since that's the most cut-and-dried of any of these proposals. Done in similar style as my Urban Ring LRT renders on the Green Line Reconfig thread.

#1. Porter Station (assume Union-Porter done first, with stub-out tunnel past the station.
GLXW1.jpg


As oft-stated, the official plan for Porter is for a shallow duck-under tunnel to start shortly past the Beacon St. overpass where the roof of the GLX level becomes the trackbed for the CR level (possibly also covered over with a linear air rights park Mass Ave. to Beacon as part of the deal). Such that you'd access the Green Line by going to the current commuter rail egress from the main station lobby...short flight of stairs down to the GL platform, short flight of stairs up to the CR platform. Presumably the Charlie gates would be re-ringed around the lobby to put all behind prepayment.

Note that the stub-out tunnel holding the tail tracks switches sides from north to south of the Fitchburg ROW as provision for future continuation. Continuation only involves punching through the end of the tunnel wall and inclining immediately back up to the surface.

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#2. Fresh Pond
GLXW2.jpg


Sherman St. grade crossing is eliminable on GLX with a shallow duck-under, but probably not on Commuter Rail which can't change grades as fast. Unfortunately the new condos massed up against the crossing makes this a difficult double-elimination...so assume GLX separation is easy enough but CR elimination is out-of-scope. Note (per discussion about Waltham not being reachable from Watertown) where a separate future branch to Belmont/Waltham would fork off from Watertown. That's doable likewise hugging the south side of the ROW...but is much lower-priority because :15 Urban Rail on the Fitchburg Line gives those areas at least a generation-plus's worth of growth on the current mode before it's tapped out.

Note that when the Watertown Branch was landbanked MassDOT and Cambridge did a landbanking swap around the Reservoir so the City could do runoff protection berms on the old trackbed. Reactivation would shift tracks onto the current parkway-hugging bike path (duplicated by the inner Reservoir path) out to the Waterworks driveway grade crossing where it would switch back. This is an explicit IOU; the trackbed land was deeded to the City, while state already owns the bike path via DCR's parkway ownership. Note how the existing pedestrian crosswalks are accommodated around the duck-under incline of the Parkway. Assume some renovations of the Mall so the back-facing station can be accessed direct from the front, and assume some sort of footbridge to Danehy Park gets built prior from the Rindge Ave. residential.


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#3. Huron & Mt. Auburn
GLXW3.jpg


Note reconfig of Waterworks driveway traffic to eliminate the grade crossing egress, direct all traffic over the overpass egress. New ped signal on the Parkway compensates for the sealed crossing. Huron Ave. platforms on the hillside (former pre-1938 RR station location). Rail-with-trail starts in the cut from there, coming off the Reservoir path. "East Watertown" is the same stop location as various old studied Red Line extension trajectories past Harvard 1945-75 that went up Mt. Auburn instead of Mass Ave. One very minor grade crossing remains on a very quiet residential dead-end.

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#4. Watertown Mall and end of landbanked ROW
GLXW4.jpg


"Coolidge Hill" (trying not to dupe-name it "Arlington") and Watertown Mall platforms are 1400 ft. apart...OK for LRT station spacing. Note remanicuring of private driveways to eliminate grade crossing, dispersal of rail trail. Coolidge Hill platforms at transit-prioritized traffic signal.

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#5. The "OPTIONS" for Arsenal
Complicated, so bear with me!
GLXW5.jpg


Straight-up easiest is OPTION 1: street-running on Arsenal from a School St. stop (2100 ft. from Watertown Mall stop...A-OK spacing). Re-stripe Arsenal St. to put trolleys left of the yellow paint except at left-turn lanes, place judicious left-turn restrictions on unsignaled side streets. Beechwood Ave. (1900 ft. from School) is a spacer. Do narrow-profile offset right-door platforms, transit bears left through platform and traffic bears right traffic-calmed around platform (a.k.a. "San Fran Market St.-style").
  • ADVANTAGES: No land-taking of any kind, minimal road configuration. Lowest cost. Has to be considered default preferred alt. for general non-invasiveness.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Maximum street-running length (4000 ft. to Watertown Sq.), most traffic signals (4) of any Alt.. Arsenal will be slightly squeezed around Beechwood platforms.
OPTION 2 attempts to re-claim another segment of non-landbanked legacy ROW by land-taking Lexus of Watertown (car dealerships: typically transient tenants) and 3 parcels of parking lot easements to get to Beachwood under full grade separation. Lesser amount (2200 ft. vs. 4000 ft.) of street-running on Arsenal past Beechwood as ROW is more severely encroached after that.
  • ADVANTAGES: Only option that extends Greenway rail-with-trail closer to H2O Sq. Somewhat faster, w/ grade separated Beechwood Station (in front of new apartments). Car dealership + parking easements are relatively cheap land acquisitions. Less disruption to Arsenal St.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Dependencies on cooperating private third parties. No guarantee parcels won't flip to higher-rent redev before there's a chance to acquire. Time savings inconsequential for extra effort.

OPTION 3: "Thinking Outside The Box." This might be a little kwaaazy, but I've stood on the street corner of School & Arsenal looking at the front entrance of U.S. Army Labs and totally daydreamt: "Wouldn't it be totes awesome if we just put the transit station inside the frigging building?!?!" Hear me out. So assuming the building is structurally up to it, instead of doing a platform @ School St., just cut a hole through the building and have a sheltered but semi open-air platform inside of it. Then pop out the back to quizzically over-wide and DCR-maintained North Beacon. Then instead of street-running, re-streetscape N. Beacon with a full grade-separated B/C/E-style reservation. Put a similar intermediate stop @ Beechwood, and eliminate all curb cuts on the reservation (with Comm/Beacon-style uey lanes spread appropriately).
  • ADVANTAGES: Highest-ridership configuration, owing to the transit center inside the Arsenal. Fastest configuration, owing to grade-separated reservation and in-building stop. Definitely very high-concept.
  • DISADVANTAGES: Can it be structurally done to the Arsenal? Is that enough time savings over not-at-all-bad Arsenal street-running to shoot for. Most expensive by far...maybe doesn't punch higher enough over Options #1/2 for the extra cost. Unconventional; pretty unlikely a real study is going to look seriously at it.
I have no special opinions on the pecking order, but I've personally spent way too much of my own time thinking about that one.

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#6. The Square.

GLXW6.jpg


Regardless of what Option you take at School St., all roads lead to the same place: the traffic island where Arsenal & N. Beacon feed into the square. Road remanicuring creates a fat platform there. Assume it can do in-situ reverses like Cleveland Circle when traffic is heavy, or proceed over the river to Watertown Carhouse when it's not.

Future flex exists to continue street-running down a transit-streetscaped Galen St. to loop at Newton Corner for Worcester Line Urban Rail and all the other buses that hit Corner but not H2O Sq. Total street-running from School St. to NC would be equivalent to the same distance as Brigham Circle to Hyde Sq. on the E...so nothing to sneeze at. Out-of-scope for this project because it has to assume that Pike WB gets on/offramps at the Birmingham Pkwy. rotary so Watertown-bound traffic uses underutilized Nonantum Rd. instead of slamming Galen into oblivion. The Newton Corner extension would have to happen before any mid-Crazy pitches about re-stringing back the whole A Line to replace the 57, as crossing the Pike and getting over to Tremont St. is just as much a hurdle as it was in the old days. For now, just assume we're calling it a day at Watertown Carhouse and everything extracurricular is a separate project.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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-- Lexington: If the Red Line is extended to Arlington Heights, perhaps a single lane BRT route could go from Arlington Heights to Bedford, squeezed in alongside the Minuteman Trail. Intermittent turnouts could be built in to allow two-way use.
Keep in mind, Arlington Heights is going to be a sizeable bus terminal in its own right. Most of the Alewife routes duplicating the MA 2 frontages are going to relocate out there, and there'll be many other opportunities for new spanning routes because of the way Park Ave. carves a north-south corridor out of there. Heft matters, so the biz-oriented routes to Hanscom & Burlington will be significantly buoyed by the gravitational well. It won't resemble the brokenness of the northwest fringes of the system as it exists today. Since Mass Ave., 2A, and US 3 in Lexington aren't carpocalypses by any stretch those should be reasonably fast and frequent buses providing coverage to where Red is unlikely to be extended further. I don't think permanently stopping @ Heights and foresaking Lexington will will be any festering sore. Basically the only thing that would change it into a true burning question is if Hanscom gets upgraded into a #2 regional airport...and that's got dependencies on Crazy Airport Pitches so we really have no basis for speculation.

Basically, Red being prematurely truncated @ Alewife ended up leaving too much unfinished business out in this region. It wholly and completely explains why the transit landscape to that quadrant of 128 is so underwhelming. You don't necessarily have to touch 128-proper with rapid transit to heal what ails that particular sector. The original Red-to-Heights study (sans the very dated parking over-glut) was going to have much broader/deeper multimodal coattails than what you'd be able to perceive from today's connections.

--Everett: Greatly increased rail access is doable with an LRT Urban Ring routed as close as possible to the population centers. Here's the route I'm thinking. Green is surface and yellow is elevated. White circles are stations. Revere Beach Parkway is wide and there are very few residences directly abuting it. Also the leg into Chelsea from Revere Beach Parkway is pretty much all commercial.

A typical section along Revere Beach Parkway would look like this:

Vancouver BC has several lines like this, elevated above wide streets.
A 9 figure kludge for mere blocks' difference in catchments. Sweetser Circle and Chelsea Station are exactly 1 mile apart. That's not nearly far enough apart to be mounting some fishing expedition for all of 1 new intermediate stop...which in turn is going to slow the hell down the thru-and-thru UR trip to Logan. All Urban Ring has to do to execute is make the bus transfers sizzle to the last destinations. A Broadway/Main bus sans the slog into Sullivan or a Chelsea bus sans the slog into Maverick is going to be a quick, quick bus trip. Target fixation for ROW's into the CBD's of each city really isn't asking the right set of questions about what makes useful transit there. You flat-out can't get into the heartmost Everett & Chelsea CBD's without crazy tunneling excursions, so that's not going to happen. Half-assing it with a half-UR/half-local route that does neither as well isn't really a search for convenient transit as much as it is mapmakers' perfectionism.



And if you want to flex your muscles building an elevated to show you can build an elevated within-cost, that's what the Saugus Branch ROW is for first to solve the Malden grade crossing problems before any high-concept parkway huggers short on space. It's actually no-harm if you branch Orange due-east off Malden Ctr. because that's the last big bus terminal and it wouldn't matter if 3 min. headways to Oak Grove & Melrose-Reading were downgraded to 6 mins. so you could feed a fork to Saugus. That's first on the bucket list by a lot before this one because of the vexingly well-studied ROW with the vexingly off-limits at-grade problem.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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I should note re: GLX-Watertown. . .

The fact that it shares a multi-direction junction @ Brickbottom with the Urban Ring means it's theoretically possible to alt-route services between Porter/Watertown and Sullivan/Chelsea/Airport instead of Downtown via Lechmere. Now...I have no clue what demand there is for such a radial pattern as there never was any halfway-rough service approximation of it in the distant past. But that's where a deep-dive into the numbers may turn up something. H2O Sq., Porter, Sullivan, and Chelsea are bus transfer gravity wells of considerable known heft, as is Newton Corner if the Galen St. addendum gets included. The route spans HRT transfers @ Porter (Red), Sullivan (Orange), and Logan (Blue) and Urban Rail CR transfers @ Porter (Fitchburg), Sullivan (Eastern/Western), Chelsea (Eastern), and possibly also Newton Corner (B&A) with the Galen addendum. That's...a pretty significant string of pearls. Now you just have to see if the skyrocketing growth on this corridor has any latent use for the linked trips enabled by such a routing. May not net enough for a 2-branch layered service pattern of 6 min. headway + 6 min. headway = 3 min. headway like the primary Urban Ring trunks that are straight-up alternating between Downtown and other patterns, but you may net something > than just the baseline 6 mins. to Downtown via Lechmere if anything surplus is even occasionally justified slipped into the mix at wide headways via Chelsea/Logan.

Right now Union Branch matches up on the other end with the E. That's unlikely to change since it's the most directionally logical pairing and best incumbent match for equipment cycles. However, Green Line Reconfig also envisions for traffic management a reopened 4-track Tremont St. tunnel off Boylston forking in the South End to (1) South Station/Seaport and Transitway, (2) Washington St. to Nubian, and eventually (3) a permanent E relocation off Copley Jct. via Back Bay Station and a bi-directional South End junction. So the Union/H2O Branch pairing match could end up changing to include...say...a pair-off with Nubian if that makes more sense than the current E (I'm assuming on-spec Seaport is going to live larger shooting layered matchups to 2-of-3 of Urban Ring NW, UR NE, and/or Medford as its bread-and-butter). Again...you have to deep-dive into the numbers for anything latent because this has never been attempted before. But the diversity of routing options exponentially expands as the LRT system terraforms into different kind of distribution incorporating these newfangled radials. Whole new ballgame, and every branch hits harder as a result of being able to mix/match its service layer cake.

The Urban Ring and Nubian + Seaport radials have the benefits of being immaculately well-studied over very long periods. This route to Porter/Watertown just happens to be virgin territory for such analysis. There's *something* there amongst its constituent routing parts because the transfer gravity wells in question are just too big for there not to be. But we have no idea how big, how much alt-patterned service it merits, or where the affinities are with the type of growth on this corridor. So start digging!
 

Riverside

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^ Yes -- this is the ground that I've been mulling over for several weeks now with respect to reimagining how Boston's LRT network functions. As alluded to above, opening up Union-Porter (in addition to the Grand Junction) for trains from Sullivan, bypassing Lechmere + the Central Subway altogether, creates some wiggle room that might make something like a street-running branch into Everett into something other than a complete non-starter.

Likewise, it opens up some potentially novel approaches for what to do with the Minuteman ROW. If you opt for an LRT extension to Arlington or Lexington in lieu of an HRT extension, you have notably more capacity for service on the Lexington-Porter leg if you can then siphon some of those inbound trains over to Sullivan, on to Everett, Chelsea or Logan. The downside is that downtown riders on those siphoned trains would need to be dumped onto the Red Line, or Scollay-bound Green Line trains, so you'd need to balance the system, but it's still a much better situation than the conventional wisdom that historically has shoved all north-originating LRT through Lechmere.

I mean, there's a math problem here that you start to hit surprisingly quickly. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the Lechmere to Government Center section of the Central Subway can support 40 trains per hour in one direction, assuming best-practice ops and signaling, etc. (I'm not sure that's actually true, I think the real number may be a bit lower.) Now let's consider all the possible "northern" destinations:
  • Chelsea/Logan
  • Everett Broadway (I know, I know, but roll with me here)
  • College Ave/Route 16/West Medford/Woburn (!)
  • Porter/Arlington/Lexington
  • Porter/Belmont/Waltham
  • Porter/Watertown
  • Grand Junction/Allston/Harvard
40 divided by 7 means somewhere between 5 and 6 tph on each branch, meaning 10-12 minutes headways -- at peak.

Now, when you get out into Woburn and Waltham and maybe Watertown, 11 minute peak headways isn't unconscionable, but it's rough. And 11 minute headways to College Ave seems pretty horrendous.

Now, obviously in the "real-world" of how this would all work, some of those routes would have an extra layer. Chelsea/Logan and Grand Junction/Allston/Harvard would get an extra layer of trains running between them, meaning that Chelsea-Sullivan and Allston-Kendall-Sullivan would each have 6 minute headways. And obviously Porter-Lechmere would have ~15 tph and thus respectable headways.

But... even then, we're still in dicey territory because the Medford Branch is still being underserved. Woburn could make do with 11 minute peak headways (maybe), but it would be insane for Somerville and Medford. So, realistically, the Medford Branch needs an extra share of the cake, which puts us back in a deficit.

Chelsea/Logan and Porter/x can afford to give some of their tph to the Medford Branch if they are able to make it up with Sullivan-Porter trains (and Sullivan- Kendall trains).

And this is where I think we hit on something really important -- the Medford Branch is not like the others in this scenario. There is no "Sullivan" or "Porter" transfer node that it's feeding into -- it's a straight-up radial route into downtown. The Medford Branch is the most extreme case of this, but all of the legs of the full-build LRT network sit somewhere on this spectrum from radial to circumferential/feeder.

The concept I'm working on tries to more intentionally break these out into logical groups, to simplify ops and maximize efficiency. Stay tuned.

--

While we're on the topic of zany circumferential LRT routings -- I can't remember which proposal it was, but several months ago I came across a transit report from the 1930s (?) that proposed a Mattapan High Speed Line-style LRT route... from Watertown to Lexington! With a transfer to the Red Line at what I believe is now the Mt Auburn overpass over the Watertown ROW. It was presented more from an operational perspective than a demand perspective -- basically the idea being that you wanted LRT feeder service from both Watertown and Lexington/Arlington, so we not marry them together?

Now, I don't think this makes as much sense today, now that we have Porter as a transfer node, but it's still interesting to think about.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The 1945 BTC plan had an East Watertown RL terminus and transfer to Mattapan-like trolley to Alewife and Arlington Heights. No Watertown because the branch was still heavily used from the Waltham end for the Arsenal in Wartime, but the 71 was still a streetcar at the time. Note also that Hanscom in Wartime was still accessible from Billerica-Bedford.

There really isn't an analogy for that kind of outer transfer today. Heights makes the most sense as a straight-on Red Line extension on the blueprints of the 1976 plan because of the significant bus transfer coattails at the new terminal. That is not one to pussyfoot around with swapping the HRT that's already on-alignment for LRT doodles. Assume the Porter branch can't take more than 2+ interlaid patterns and 3 min. max headways. One is Watertown, one is reserved for Waltham...and pie-dividing filet patterns therein. Both are unsealed grade crossing-wise with less-trivial eliminations than Arlington so have to be rationed accordingly.

For the Central Subway...remember: Brickbottom, South End, and BU Bridge are all triple-junctions with multi-direction routing. E-to-D can interline at Brookline Village or bend E's back to Kenmore Loop. And with E relocation to South End junction the centralmost service overlap Boylston-GC is de facto quad track (perhaps with some mods to the GC wedge for spanning a track split to/from the Brattle Loop platforms). The service patterns can stay in robust balance on the primaries with the filets carving out enough (non-trunk) branch-of-a-branch action to mix Riverside/Needham, Watertown/Waltham, Design Ctr./City Point, and maybe even BC/Oak Sq. (assumes B portal moves to St. Paul for the UR build). It's all massively distributed (moreso if E burial to Brookline Vill. alt-spines things). You mainly just have to keep your measuring sticks at any given junction in approximate schedule balance for any new appendages.

Note for Everett that said "near"-balance is still problematic for the Saugus Branch crossing horror show...and problematic for super-extension of the Nubian streetcar straight to Mattapan on one-seat. So it doesn't magic-wand every last thing into existance when extremes can still impale dispatching. But it's exponential expansion and a fucklot of service on a distributed network. Total revolution from the GL as currently laid out.
 

Riverside

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The 1945 BTC plan had an East Watertown RL terminus and transfer to Mattapan-like trolley to Alewife and Arlington Heights. No Watertown because the branch was still heavily used from the Waltham end for the Arsenal in Wartime, but the 71 was still a streetcar at the time. Note also that Hanscom in Wartime was still accessible from Billerica-Bedford.
Yeah, I'm familiar with that proposal -- the one I'm thinking of was different and earlier. I'll try to dig it out later.

For the Central Subway...remember: Brickbottom, South End, and BU Bridge are all triple-junctions with multi-direction routing.
I agree with the overall point you're making here -- there will be ample opportunities to siphon routes out of the Central Subway. But I am definitely not sold on the Bay Village triple junction. There's a lot to unpack there, which I don't have time today (4 days before Xmas) to do proper justice on. I don't have quite as strong feelings about the idea of a BU Bridge triple junction, but it also does not seem like a slam dunk -- at least not as much as Brickbottom.

Also, worth noting that, in every proposal I've seen -- a Brickbottom triple-junction does not grant Medford access to Sullivan, Porter, or Kendall. You could add a leg along the north and add a Y near the UPS Customer Center and the bridge over the Western Route/Eastern Route tracks for Maximum Flexibility™, but holy spaghetti tracks batman would that be complex. So we still need to contend with some specialization of needs per route -- it's not just the Mattapan super extensions which create problems, there are still differences in character to work with.

I agree with your overall point but not those specific examples.

But this is a good place for us to raise an important question -- given the varying double vs quad tracking, etc, what is the theoretical maximum capacity of the various sections of the Central Subway? (Assume no F Line to Nubian or Huntington Subway)
  • Kenmore-Copley Jct (assuming flat junction remains)
  • Copley Jct-Boylston crossovers (north of the station)
  • Boylston-Park Street
  • Park Street-Government Center
  • Government Center-North Station
  • North Station-Lechmere/Brickbottom
 

jklo

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Keep in mind, Arlington Heights is going to be a sizeable bus terminal in its own right.
But Arlington doesn't want that. The increased traffic is part of the hostility to RLX in Arlington. I think it has to be 128 or bust.

Getting Lexington residents to take the bus doesn't seem very likely either. Burlington yes.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I agree with the overall point you're making here -- there will be ample opportunities to siphon routes out of the Central Subway. But I am definitely not sold on the Bay Village triple junction. There's a lot to unpack there, which I don't have time today (4 days before Xmas) to do proper justice on. I don't have quite as strong feelings about the idea of a BU Bridge triple junction, but it also does not seem like a slam dunk -- at least not as much as Brickbottom.
BU Bridge is studied, so that one isn't a feasibility question mark.

Keep in mind you don't have to build *ALL* of these. Each exponentially-multiplying cog in the system adds scale to the system, but there's a half-dozen or more wholly discrete projects here that have to be plotted against resources and time. Some inevitably won't get built at all or be built for many more decades. Just don't over-add discrete branches before adding enough service multipliers for the extra patterns is all (common sense, as that would be cutting in line on relative priority).

Also, worth noting that, in every proposal I've seen -- a Brickbottom triple-junction does not grant Medford access to Sullivan, Porter, or Kendall. You could add a leg along the north and add a Y near the UPS Customer Center and the bridge over the Western Route/Eastern Route tracks for Maximum Flexibility™, but holy spaghetti tracks batman would that be complex. So we still need to contend with some specialization of needs per route -- it's not just the Mattapan super extensions which create problems, there are still differences in character to work with.
A completists' quibble. Again, we are not assuming every appendage is equal in priority or spacetime. This is chasing an organizing principle, not an endpoints target fixation. To what ends of the earth you pusue the completism within our lifetimes is wholly debateable.

Also...no guarantee is given on multi-direction routings everywhere. Kenmore-Seaport?...not doable; no fittable junctions angle that direction. You spread the love with alt-spining and radials to give more service patterns flex (even if it's from a less direct means), but you ARE going to be doing lots more inter-branch cross-platform transfers on this system. For example, 66 bus'ers wanting to go Harvard-Longwood have to cross platforms @ Kenmore and pick up a D or bendback-to-loop E-to-D. No biggie...it's a shitton improvement over the 66 which is all that matters. Treat Medford accordingly.

Or if that's not good enough...dust off the "Red X" pitch from a few pages ago and relieve Medford from Green with HRT out of North Station & JFK. It's grade separated, no?
 
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George_Apley

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But Arlington doesn't want that. The increased traffic is part of the hostility to RLX in Arlington. I think it has to be 128 or bust.

Getting Lexington residents to take the bus doesn't seem very likely either. Burlington yes.
To be fair to Arlington, I'm not sure that's a modern sentiment. Maybe there's more info out there than I'm aware of, but I don't know of any data from the last thirty years that qualifies Arlington town govt or residents feelings on an RLX. They opposed it in the 1980s when Lexington (tacitly at least) supported it. These days, anecdotally I can say that it's reversed. Lexington LOVES the Minuteman as it is (plus the crossings are messy). Arlington does too, but they're much more aware of the transit need. More activism and engagement pushing for RLX-Arlington would start to awaken latent feelings on the matter in either direction.

That said, I think that Arlington would be more skeptical of a Heights extension than just a Center extension.

I'll note that Lexington does have bus ridership now. It's just not very high because the routes are infrequent and roundabout. It will probably never have the rideshare of Arlington, but there's a lot of potential for growth there.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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But Arlington doesn't want that. The increased traffic is part of the hostility to RLX in Arlington. I think it has to be 128 or bust.

Getting Lexington residents to take the bus doesn't seem very likely either. Burlington yes.
Citation, please, about Arlington *today* not wanting that??? That would be news to most townie politicos who have specifically expressed regret for turning it down in 1976.

Attitudes change. There's ample evidence for that. Where's the contrary evidence that it's generationally static? Specifically here. Sorry...statement like this can't get flung out there without attribution.
 

jklo

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Citation, please, about Arlington *today* not wanting that??? That would be news to most townie politicos who have specifically expressed regret for turning it down in 1976.
Meeting where RLX came up a couple years ago, that I remember. I think it's more that they are afraid that the Alewife traffic will move there.
 

George_Apley

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Meeting where RLX came up a couple years ago, that I remember. I think it's more that they are afraid that the Alewife traffic will move there.
That's a really ignorant knee-jerk complaint if that's what was said. There won't be a garage built in Arlington so all the traffic will still go to Alewife. Worst comes to worst Arlington has to impose resident parking permits.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Meeting where RLX came up a couple years ago, that I remember. I think it's more that they are afraid that the Alewife traffic will move there.
How? Arlington Center will be a Davis clone without parking, and Heights would have no parking beyond the existing bus depot. The 1976 garage plan is decades-defunct. How does it follow that "the Alewife traffic moves there"? Is this a pervasive attitude, shared by pols, or just Some Guy in the audience who said it not understanding
that "Alewife" conditions aren't replicable anywhere away from a highway offramp.

There have been years of pol statements about how turning it down back in the day was a mistake. That's a pervasive trend...if short of 'speaks for the whole town' conclusive proof until fresh polling can confirm. Where's the pervasive trend that opposition is still hardened? That's what I'm asking. This is being offered as assumption speaking for the whole town.
 

KCasiglio

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RE: Watertown, extension from Porter is definitely the path of least resistance but if GLX to West Station via grand junction were to happen, what about an extension from there? Pick your path to Western ave, and then street running along Western -> Arsenal all the way to Watertown Center? 1 seat ride to Kendall and then either North Station or UR to Sullivan, easy transfer at West Station to Back Bay & SS via RUR. Much more direct routing than wandering around Fresh Pond and North Cambridge

Biggest draw back I see is you have tough intersections at Market St and again at Coolidge/Arlington that you don't have to deal with via Porter, and your trading pretty much any catchment north of Mt. Auburn St for Lower Allston which already has theoretical RUR access.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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RE: Watertown, extension from Porter is definitely the path of least resistance but if GLX to West Station via grand junction were to happen, what about an extension from there? Pick your path to Western ave, and then street running along Western -> Arsenal all the way to Watertown Center? 1 seat ride to Kendall and then either North Station or UR to Sullivan, easy transfer at West Station to Back Bay & SS via RUR. Much more direct routing than wandering around Fresh Pond and North Cambridge

Biggest draw back I see is you have tough intersections at Market St and again at Coolidge/Arlington that you don't have to deal with via Porter, and your trading pretty much any catchment north of Mt. Auburn St for Lower Allston which already has theoretical RUR access.
Rapid transit to West was well-studied with the Urban Ring, and the draw there is square-on to Harvard via that UR spur route. Now...that's going to be a high-capacity pipe with fileting @ BU Bridge junction from Kenmore and Kendall on Ring NW quadrant. Branch-off-a-branch with significant street-running is going to be overly brittle. So all of the caveats you note are real buzzkills here because any schedule padding that needs to be packed in to offset directly impacts what you can split to the king-sized Harvard side.

Honestly, with how half-cocked the West dev plans are it's looking like the great white hype anyway more than the future center of the universe that's a must-have convergence point. The UR spur is still rock-solid on all fundamentals, but that's because the Harvard transfer anchor still rakes over-the-moon demand even if the West land slab turns into another--gasp!--slapdash Alewife. 😱

Porter route has the advantage of being extremely fast via the grade separation and terraforming much of the 71's audience commensurate with Watertown's exploding growth. That route is already a ripe route for a spanning BRT radial now; the growth tracks well for rapid transit later. The reasons for building it aren't driven at all by drop-in considerations for the 57/ex-A Line. You're probably building that one on its own solo merits and cost effectiveness rather than trying to shoehorn ex-A Line audience considerations. 57, unfortunately, still doesn't have a crystal clear perma-fix (although lots of trans-Lower Allston demand will migrate to the Harvard-via-West spur). Keep in mind that if you first (without future considerations) bring Blue Line from Charles to Kenmore in a Storrow midsection trade-in, the tail tracks pointing up Brookline Ave. are angled for choose-your-adventure next encore in any direction. So you're probably waiting for the next large capacity pipe to implant itself in the area and Crazy speculating from there rather than trying to divide the GL/UR pie a little too finely for its own ops good.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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FWIW, here's the MS Paint renders for how you'd do the GLX-Waltham branch. Keep in mind this will be one of the very last linear rapid transit expansions mounted on the priority pile, because :15 Fitchburg Line Urban Rail to 128 is 1-2 generation's worth of growth in itself before any added gear is necessary. So we're not going to debate the pearl-clutching of the Belmont NIMBY's circa 2047 because that's beyond the realm of prediction. Nor are we going to debate service filets in the Central Subway or where this lands on the priority pile. Strictly a how-to explainer.

1. Split from Porter + Watertown Branch.


Same un-edited slide from the H2O Branch post. Where it says "provision for Waltham" you have a flat junction then tracks continuing under the Parkway. All builds Watertown & Waltham hug the south side of the Fitchburg ROW by necessity.

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

2. West Cambridge (don't call it Alewife!!!)
GLXWt1.jpg


Under the parkway alongside Terminal Rd., same place the 'zombie' CR station shit sandwich keeps getting proposed. We do not name-check this stop as "Alewife" because absolutely no one in their sane mind will be walking close to 2000 ft. up/down switchbacks, crossing Cambridgepark, and going through the labyrinthine busway entrance to transfer to/from the Red Line when supremely well-integrated Porter superstation is the next goddamn stop. Nor are we spatially taking this off-alignment to try to shotgun some ham-fisted uni-facility integration between the two; the results would be a godawful mess. Debate that in the God Mode thread. This stop is mainly for the Concord Ave.-side redev that's a little over-long walkshed to Red, with "nice-to-have" footbridge to Cambrigepark and egress to Terminal Rd. for the Mall and anyone who wants to hoof it easily to this branch's next-nearest stop while Fresh Pond Station is locationally exclusive to the H2O Branch. Path renders are all TBD/approximate, capturing the general gist.

That's it. Added convenience...not megaproject. Megaprojects aren't necessary when Porter superstation is the center of the transfer universe.

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3. Belmont
GLXWt2.jpg


Hills Crossing @ Blanchard Rd. was a B&M stop until 1952. Straightforward grade separation of this nasty crossing by elevating Fitchburg+GL onto a rail bridge. ROW is wide enough to accommodate path to Belmont Ctr. despite quad width, since original Tk. 4 once began @ Belmont Ctr. station. Though may require some embankment stabilization on the north side for path. Green-eats-CR @ Belmont Ctr.

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4. Waverley
GLXWt3.jpg


I'm not keen on an intermediate stop behind Cityside Subaru per the T's loudly rejected plan to combine Belmont Ctr. & Waverley CR at the midpoint. Stop spacing would be awkwardly close even on rapid transit. If worthy-enough TOD comes to that auto-scuzz stretch of MA 60, infill a new platform as needed because it's easy enough. Just in the absence of compelling development, I'm going to leave that as optional/surplus-to-requirement.

The ROW narrows enough between Belmont Ctr. and the west approach to Waverley that path must be relocated off-alignment, Aside from some *minor* wetlands concerns for the re-join to ROW past Moraine St., the rest of the way should be fine as before. Note that path switches sides @ Beaver St. underneath the eliminated grade crossing. Waverley was a 1955 B&M grade separation that created a 2-track cut where a 3+ track at-grade ROW used to exist; must do some cosmetic widening of the cut. Green-eats-CR at the stations. Clematis Brook a pre-1978 CR station location reanimated for spacing and bus transfers.

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5. Waltham & the ROW switcheroo
GLXWt4.jpg

The Central Mass ROW (landbanked 1987) must be reactivated to re-route the Fitchburg Line around Waltham Center, where the active ROW is only 2-track wide. The Central Mass/Fitchburg Cutoff rail trail ends up getting swapped to the GLX ROW more usefully to Waltham Ctr. and the Charles paths, as LRT can pack a little tighter to create room in the existing space. This is why the trail switches from north to south side of the ROW @ Beaver St. in the previous slide. Hands-down superior a path routing vs. the Central Mass, so an upgrade unto itself. On Central Mass 1 private crossing (least-concern) at a condo complex, and Hammond St. crossing has difficult elevation and packed surroundings for an attempted elimination so may have to stay. Waltham Highlands Station (see Hammond St. Street View linky for depot building @ left with preserved tracks) was here in-service to 1971. *Possible* reactivation as a limited-service Porter-128 flag stop spacer because it might make the crossing easier to handle...but utilization would be extremely minor so likely omit.

Beaver Brook (like Clematis Brook a pre-1978 CR station) is in-situ reactivated for a GLX spacer and buses. Assume it's unlikely Waltham Ctr. will be grade-separated because the ROW can't be trenched in the Charles floodplain and the City is probably not going to want a multi-block Chinese Wall embankment. However, the fact that LRT can share traffic light cycles means traffic impacts will be waaaaaaaaay better with the mode switch than they currently are on CR. So you probably will not need to eliminate the crossings in any absolute sense to begin with.

Priciest part of the whole project is the Central Mass reactivation, and most controversial because of close abutters (though Waltham writ-large would be firmly in favor). Assume GLX wholly replaces :15 Urban Rail to 128 and the :30 Wachusett RUR patterns are simply expressing thru Porter-128 to pick up valuable time on its system-longest schedule.

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6. to 128
GLXWt5.jpg


ROW's reconvene @ the 128 superstation, depicted on the most oft-proposed site. Includes a side path to deleted Kendal Green station on available Weston Town DPW land. If the CR station comes first, the GLX platform supplants the CR station's platform and a new CR platform is offset on the Central Mass approach other side of the brook. Already assumed that current proposed CR station will have driveway access from both US 20 and MA 117, and that the 70 bus will move its terminus from Stow St. to here.

Relocated trail snakes through Charles parkland and cemetery before bolting back to GL ROW @ Brandeis. Riverview is a pre-1965 B&M station...spacer + bus transfer at a major river crossing.

Brandeis is an optional crossing elimination because it'll be low-concern due to the shared signaling. While plenty of U-owned land all around, you'd have to do a little bit of curve-straightening outside the ROW property lines to have a rail overpass with abutting embankmentstation. Likely doable, but dependent on third parties so for assumption's sake we're omitting here as a fail-safe. On Central Mass 128 overpass must be rebuilt @ 2-track and made taller so ROW @ Stow St. @ 117 has proper elevation for overpassing. Border Rd. has an existing widenable path underpass (depicted here), but running room from 117 to change elevations may be too short so might switch to rail overpass instead. As per last slide, the grade separations drive up the cost of the CM relocation because of quantity of new bridge structures required, although all are conventional-construction on a currently inactive ROW so have no staging cost bloat.

Storage yard in the remediated sand pit area by the Central Mass/Fitchburg crossing. Fitchburg Line returns on-alignment @ the current CM rail bridge. We are not assuming any future Commuter Rail reactivation of the Central Mass because it's a middling prospect at-best, but 128 Station is fully compatible with an immediate branch split.
 
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