General Infrastructure

JeffDowntown

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They've been implemented with great success in a number of South American cities, among other places, La Paz, Bolivia most notably. Of course, these cities tend to have a lot of dense, poor neighborhoods crammed together on steep hillsides, where conventional public transit is really hard to manage in any reliable fashion but gondolas can just sail overhead.
Aerial Trams are generally used where the topology presents challenges for more conventional modes of transit. They are usually relatively short longitudinal distances, and often with significant vertical differential.

I think the only two public transit examples in the US are the Roosevelt Island Tramway (which has to traverse the East River at ship clearance height, 250 ft.) and the Portland Aerial Tram which climbs from the South Waterfront to the Marquam Hill neighborhood, 500 ft vertical climb.

Trams are slow (nominally 15 mph), but they are useful for steep vertical climbs. They are typically used for short distances where modest capacity transport is needed. They are not terribly efficient for flat, horizontal transport. Transportation engineers would not specify them for that purpose. Unfortunately public officials seem enamored with them because they are relatively cheap (to purchase, ignoring that they are costly to maintain), and are minimally disruptive to existing ground structures (except at stations).

From a lifecycle cost standpoint (factoring in the high maintenance costs), they are probably one of the most costly modes of transit per passenger mile. They are also operationally inflexible -- you really cannot vary the car frequency, or short turn the route.
 

ceo

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It’s important to remember that aerial tramways like Portland and Roosevelt Island are very different beasts from gondolas. Tramways typically have two large (>100 people) cars that shuttle back and forth, generally on two track ropes and pulled by a single haul rope. They can have very long spans between towers, but have limited capacity and are really expensive to build. Gondolas have many 8-10-person cars that circulate continuously, usually on a single rope. Then there’s what are called “3S” gondolas (from the German for “3 ropes”), that have many largish cars (25 or so people) that circulate on 2 track ropes and a haul rope. They have huge capacity and can span long distances, but are (again) really expensive. If they actually build this thing in Everett it will almost certainly be a monocable gondola.
 

whighlander

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On the matter of Gondolas or Trams
Roger Berkowitz [Legal Seafood] has sort of resurrected the idea for the Seaport District

Boston Magazine published a series of interview / opinion pieces connected with Transportation last autumn

Included in these was one by Roger Berkowitz [excerpted below]

The Seaport Needs Public Transportation, Too

Roger Berkowitz

President and CEO, Legal Sea Foods

Our building in the Seaport District is on fill from the Big Dig. We’ve been here since 2004, so we were here before the onslaught of all these new condos, hotels, and office buildings. It’s nice to see all the new activity, certainly, but there really wasn’t a lot of thought given to a traffic-mitigation plan. Hindsight is 20/20, but knowing what we know now, during the time of the Big Dig it would have been nice if they’d put in subway tunnel service to the Seaport District.

There was a proposal a while back about a gondola. I think we need to reconsider that, because it certainly would be a lot cheaper than putting a subway system in. I think they felt it would alleviate traffic by thousands of people on a daily basis. Short of that, I would certainly rebuild the Northern Avenue Bridge, because at Moakley Courthouse, there’s a bottleneck and it could be alleviated if the bridge were open not just for buses, bikes, and pedestrians, but also for car traffic, maybe only during rush hour in the morning and afternoon.
Interestingly while talking about rebuilding the Northern Ave Bridge for cars -- Roger doesn't mention Digging under D St to provide the Silver Line with an all electric loop from South Station independent of surface traffic
 

vanshnookenraggen

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No doubt Roger is a driver or gets driven around. Drivers always think spending money on transit is foolish while spending money for more roads is the way to go. Even worse they think spending money on pie in the shy plans like gondolas is a better use of funds than train service which can handle not just the current needs but also growth.
 

DominusNovus

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Everett wants a gondola across the Mystic, connecting Assembly with the casino and then further up Broadway. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/02...l-gondolas-city-hall-casino-assembly-station/
Kind of an interesting idea, problem being that Wynn Resorts might pay for a gondola or a footbridge, but definitely not both. Then again, in theory people could take their bikes on the gondola.
I’ve been saying a gondola makes sense here since we were first arguing about putting one on Summer St.
 

whighlander

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I think the opinion of off-brand Red Lobster ceo is worth about as much in this discussion as picking a name out of a phone book. This idea has been debunked to death.
KCasiglio -- that's too dismissive -- Roger has been investing in the Seaport for quite a while and has a major commitment in terms of not just restaurants, [Legal Harborside and Legal Test Kitchen Seaport] but his corporate infrastructure [HQ and FDA-certified foods quality control laboratory] are located at One Seafood Way -- right on the harbor



from an interview with Roger Berkowitz in Boston Magazine

The Interview: Roger Berkowitz
The legendary head of Legal Sea Foods talks Old Boston versus New Boston and finally reveals the real story behind President Donald Trump’s near snub of his world-famous clam chowder.
by CHRIS SWEENEY· 6/5/2018, 5:44 a.m.....https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/2018/06/05/roger-berkowitz-legal-sea-foods/print/

Yes. What’s the difference between a chain and a group, and why don’t you consider Legal a chain?

Because we’re an anomaly. We are in the fish business. The restaurants are the most visible part of what we do, but we are also in retail, and the heart of what we do is source product. So what we do is different than anyone else. We have a laboratory downstairs that gets inspected by the FDA. No one else who is direct to the consumer has this type of infrastructure in place, and we don’t do cookie-cutter restaurants.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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KCasiglio -- that's too dismissive -- Roger has been investing in the Seaport for quite a while and has a major commitment in terms of not just restaurants, [Legal Harborside and Legal Test Kitchen Seaport] but his corporate infrastructure [HQ and FDA-certified foods quality control laboratory] are located at One Seafood Way -- right on the harbor



from an interview with Roger Berkowitz in Boston Magazine
Is he paying for this out of HIS own pocket? No.

Roger's ghostwritten fluff bio is irrelevant to the topic of whether a gondala is proposed, appropriate to build for its location, feasible to build, and--especially--chances of it getting built.
 

dhawkins

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Why hasn't the Marine Park rail line been extended to Conley Terminal? Wouldn't this help make this terminal more successful? It always appears to be half empty of containers. I assume a rail would be limited by the reserve channel and bridge heights out of South Boston along Haul Road?


conley.png
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Why hasn't the Marine Park rail line been extended to Conley Terminal? Wouldn't this help make this terminal more successful? It always appears to be half empty of containers. I assume a rail would be limited by the reserve channel and bridge heights out of South Boston along Haul Road?


View attachment 4822
Conley does not do nearly enough container volume to be a profitable major ship-to-rail spur. It's very small as container ports go: PANYNJ, Halifax, St. John's, Baltimore, Norfolk, etc. all dwarf it in size on the East Coast. And Boston was never big for containers since Day 1 of that being a thing, as Conley used to be split with Moran Terminal (current Boston Autoport) in Charlestown for handling them until Conley was massively renovated in the late-80's to consolidate sites. That's when street-running Conrail rail-access down E. 1st St. was abandoned; the loads its was taking from pre-optimized Conley were tiny and miscellaneous...not cubes like today. Today Conley cube carves out a niche as the 'tweener distance-wise between the NY/NJ and Maritimes ports where the recent modernizations Massport put in place make it sound economically for local trucking and more time-sensitive loading. But if you've ever been on the Lake Shore Limited en route to Albany you've probably passed a CSX intermodal train out in the Berkshires before it's dropped some of its load at West Springfield Yard, carrying 150+ stacked cubes per train. At multiple trains per day. Volumes going into West Springfield and Worcester IM terminals on CSX absolutely dwarf what Conley is capable of.

Scale means everything in the IM business, and force-feeding Conley into the rail network for the sake of a *small*-share traffic reduction on 93 won't make anyone a profit margin. It would have to be subsidized heavily by Massport to draw interest from the likes of CSX. And it can't take double-stacked containers at all because the port is physically too small for sorting space so the second-stack cube can be properly plopped onto the first-stack cube in the correct order of destination & delivery. You need utterly massive facilities for that. Staten Island's container port--one of PANYNJ's smaller annexes--is so silly-bigger than Conley it's impossible to see how that type of cube sorting activity could be staged here. Single-stack TOFC would have to be hauled out west to Framingham (CSX's main Eastern MA sorting yard for splitting/blocking cars) in multiple daily installments to distribute, which clobbers the economics. And then where are they going from there??? Not out-of-region to the Great Lakes region or far Northern New England...that's closer to the big ports. Not incoming to be loaded on ships, as this isn't a producer region; international outbounds load up in volume elsewhere. Most of it is purely local-destination loads. To try to do that with rail you'll be running the Framingham sorting conveyor belt at cost chew...then making 1 extra revenue-siphoning stop to the IM terminals at Worcester or West Springfield to plunk it on the truck. A truck that's going to make exactly the same 50-100 mile round-trip inside of a day shift as it's making out of Conley...only starting from a different end of the state.

No one sees any margins in that. It is quite literally only a possibility if the state sees enough I-93 truck volume reductions to see fit to massively subsidize the entirety of the 'zero-calorie' extra handoffs required to ship out by rail in multiple steps...because the terminal is too small and compact to do that space-intensive sorting onsite. Big rigs are an absolute nothingburger share of total 93 traffic, so the traffic-taming rationale practically doesn't exist. 99.99% of our local highway traffic problem is a not-enough-transit problem, not a too-much-trucking problem. Plus the whole rationale of making the (very successful) Haul Road in the first place was based on whisking those trucks onto I-93 devoid of any impact to local streets. If anything the haul network should be expanded by bringing the 93 Frontage Roads down further to Columbia Rd. to accentuate the positive distribution effects to more of the street grid (instead of proposing more pants-on-head stupid 93 HOV capacity grabs into the CBD).


Moreover, the sources of our IM rail loads are way wider-spread than just Class I carrier CSX on the B&A and Class I carrier Norfolk Southern on the Patriot Corridor (Class I's being the 8 largest continental freight RR's by volume, separated into more or less 1-on-1 intra-regional Class I competition and great pile-ups of most/all of the Class I's at major converging points). The great big Albany hub both those pipes branch off of also features Canadian Pacific RR, and the great big Montreal hub that the Maritimes' ports feed has CP and Canadian National duking it out for supremacy. The touches outside our borders to within includes a complex and ever-changing web of carrier alliances in all 6 New England states including Pan Am (the independent Ayer-Bangor portion system apart from the 50/50 Norfolk Southern- co-owned Patriot Corridor), Providence & Worcester, New England Central, Vermont Rail System, Central Maine & Quebec, St. Lawrence & Atlantic, and J.D. Irving Lines/New Brunswick Southern. To say nothing of all the trucking alliances that change by the day (and have so benefitted the state's revenues as more last-mile shippers move to Worcester County). Plus, we're arguably as heavily indirect-influenced by North American's other Class I's--Union Pacific, BNSF, Kansas City Southern, and Ferromex--thousands of miles away than we are by any local forces because of how the likes of CSX and NS slug it out on their primary Midwest to the East Coast/Canada routes from interchanges with those other massive carriers. The scale is mind-boggling deep, and the benefits MassDOT realizes from encouraging that Worcester County entrenchment out of Albany basically grabs the live-wire in economic rejuvenation because of how it ties into that extremely dynamic web of scale.

In contrast, only CSX has rights into Conley...nobody else. And because of the extra sorting steps and majority local-destination cargo, only CSX is going to be touching it before it leaves by truck in Worcester or West Springfield. None of the network "live-wire" scale effects are being engaged from that routing, and CSX has to charge a busywork premium for the extra steps that has to be a state writeoff if it's going to work with any of the IM truck carriers out there who are already geared to hyper-competition via scale. It doesn't work; it's a wholly artificial creation requiring that subsidy. Now, if our truck traffic problems in the CBD were way worse you could say that subsidizing the extra rail handoffs is a price worth paying. But it's not enough of a problem, and not worth paying; Haul Road is great at what it does and 93's universe of problems are completely other-worldly to its rounding-error's share of big righ traffic. So the motivation isn't there.


Now...IF anything changes in the deep future it's not hard at all to spur new rail off of Track 61, install a trestle off to the side of Summer St. Bridge, and go into the terminal on slack reservation set aside for that purpose. All bets are covered there on 50-year considerations. But there's no "Why not?" rationale for doing it sooner when the shipping economics are what they are. Marine Terminal rail, on the other hand, Massport envisions for some specialty niches like refrigerated perishables that do have time sensitivity in travel and do have decent enough originating loads out of Boston for distribution at rail distances. It's not intermodal, and is very niche...but it fills a small gap at Port of Boston that New York has seized upon with Hunt's Point Market rail access. That's different. The rail stuff at Everett Terminal--produce perishables, road salt, scrap, and future miscellany--are different. Quincy Shipyard (the daily Deer Island "poop train") is different. Future rail considerations in Charlestown (not the autoport...there's already massive rail autoports in Brookfield on CSX and Ayer on NS) are different. Future rail considerations in East Boston/Chelsea River (fuel mixing) are different. The Massport port portfolio present and future is basically one of well-optimized niches. And that explains why Conley is what is is, and isn't what it isn't.
 
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dhawkins

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Thank you for the interesting dive into the mind boggling inner workings. Long term Conley plan; it appears there is still growth potential, or at least staying current with regional growth through "stevedore" activities, moving containers onto a trucking chassis and transporting to Worcester via the turnpike to be distributed. It looks like the last attempt to get Conley connected to Worcester was through Walpole in a 2009 Haul Road study by Frank DeMasi who has since past away, looks like this idea of utilizing track 61 may pass with him.

Also noted in the long term planning of Conley is the Cypher Street extension. It looks like a new self-storage building was built in 2012 directly in the path of finalizing the extension to E street. I don't think I would be to much of a cynic to suggest someone saw an opportunity to stick it to the state and build this to ransom a great sum of money to complete the plan? Best laid plans indeed.
 

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Thank you for the interesting dive into the mind boggling inner workings. Long term Conley plan; it appears there is still growth potential, or at least staying current with regional growth through "stevedore" activities, moving containers onto a trucking chassis and transporting to Worcester via the turnpike to be distributed. It looks like the last attempt to get Conley connected to Worcester was through Walpole in a 2009 Haul Road study by Frank DeMasi who has since past away, looks like this idea of utilizing track 61 may pass with him.

Also noted in the long term planning of Conley is the Cypher Street extension. It looks like a new self-storage building was built in 2012 directly in the path of finalizing the extension to E street. I don't think I would be to much of a cynic to suggest someone saw an opportunity to stick it to the state and build this to ransom a great sum of money to complete the plan? Best laid plans indeed.
The thing with rail is not the feasibility...they did execute on future-proofing in the terminal expansion by setting aside a 1-track ROW reservation through the new main gate. You can trace it here:
  • Landscaped parklet at south end of Summer St. Bridge.
  • On east landing of new driveway bridge, a 30 ft. wide graded buffer between the sidewalk and the undeveloped parcel on the first pier.
  • Curiously set-back stop line on driveway to first pier.
  • The long crosswalk to the main gate.
  • 25 ft. wide paved path between piers, connecting nothing to nothing.
  • Straight-line trajectory into container loading area, where tracks would fan out between the path-to-nowhere and the terminal rows.
All that's required to connect it is 1 block's street-running track where the Massport running track (it stops being MassDOT Track 61 east of Pumphouse Rd. grade crossing) starts its turn into Design Center, then the parallel single-track trestle abutting the Summer St. overpass which isn't any big expense. So, again...it's sorted at the 50-year level if anything changes with the business.

The problem is simply that the entire IM industry--rail and truck players--are staked to "Go Big Or Go Home" for the real growth sector of the business, not maximizing efficiencies through micro-targeting. Many small-port cities have pitched visions the likes of DeMasi's and gotten nothing but glazed-over eyes and groans from the industry players. CSX would serve Conley faithfully with an overnight train out of Readville if you literally shoved it in their face with 100% public-paid buildout on a silver platter, but Jacksonville HQ's overall disinterest would be palpable and they would do less-than-nothing on their end to market it nationally. Which is absolutely not the kind of thing you try to leverage a Class I carrier for, whether it's worth a few trucks off 93 or not. It's not a grower. Many conceptual plans of this ilk have died in 'tweener port cities when the planners who think the efficiencies are the selling point get a rude lesson in the real economics of IM drayage. For example, Portland planners struggled mightily trying to pitch themselves as a more strategic mid-distance port than big biz actually deems it and was kerfuzzled at the total lack of interest until they belatedly educated themselves.

MA is somewhat ahead of the curve here, having already made its "Go Big Or Go Home" move with CSX-Worcester and reaping the benefits of that with very buddy-buddy relationship with CSX after tickling their profit center. Massport has pivoted off that by refining the specialties...not to force-feed into the Worcester County juvenation machine where CSX's contrasting indifference says all there needs to be said, but to chase actual blind-spots in the distribution network that need augmentation. Marine Terminal fridge warehousing, for one, scratches that Hunt's Point itch and helps gives us a measure of price stability in the local food supply. We need more of that, need the to-be-relocated Widett Circle Food Market to get more on-point with that (it's a half-assed operation in its current form), need some expansion of New England Produce at Everett Terminal, and arguably need to draw a line in the sand around some of Newmarket Square's warehousing from getting pushed out.

Hence, the Marine T. rail plan has agreeable--if small-stakes--upside for CSX to serve on a nightly. I'm not exactly bullish on its prospects because the City and BDPA are determined to abrasively interfere with every DPA site left in the Seaport to push more Seaport redev monoculture and that's definitely a bad thing in the face of 50-year considerations like "How are we going to keep a meal affordable for BCEC convention patrons when we've lost all local controls on wholesale pricing?" It's more likely the execution is going to be half-assed because of how much the inter-agency turf warrage harms the sell job. But the concept of using Marine T. for that specialty is eminently business-solid despite the small stakes...and is helped in no small part by the fact that we are a producer region for seafood.

Portland, as example of right-sizing itself, now uses a rehabbed Pan Am Intermodal Yard 8 on its waterfront for Nestle to ship outbound loads of Poland Spring water by TOFC and truck. The small facility is reciprocally designed for accepting inbound ship-to-rail loads...but right now there aren't any and doesn't project to be anything meaningful. But bottled spring water?...yes, that's one of the only *healthy* producer industries left in Maine, so they are exactly on-point micro-targeting the Yard 8 facility that way. State of Connecticut is trying to build a mega rail-truck transload facility in Naugatuck served by Pan Am with Nestle as an anchor tenant; if they succeed there you'll see a shitload more bottled water cubes leaving Portland and passing through Lawrence, Lowell, Ayer, Deerfield, Springfield, and Hartford en route to that Naugatuck distro facility.

The other micro-targets for us are obviously more "stevedore" augmentation via Conley trucking. Optimizing (non-Massport/privately-owned) Everett for more produce and more aggregates transloading. Continuing to differentiate the Charlestown autoport for its local-distro specialty while Quonset Point, RI and the Brookfield/Ayer inland autoports do all the rail deliveries (Charlestown autos are uneconomical to serve by rail because the Lowell Line can only handle obsolete bi-level autoracks, not the new-standard 19'2" tri-level autoracks that P&W hauls between Quonset and Gardner every single day). Buffing out Charlestown/Moran for other niches on space outside the autoport that can use the Mystic Wharf Branch and taking another stab at the rejected haul road there.

East Boston fuel terminal and air cargo augmentation via the East Boston Branch. That track was nearly reactivated in 2008 for a nightly 60-car Pan Am Southern ethanol train to Global Petroleum for fuel mixing. The T had reconnected the switch to the Eastern Route, Pan Am had brush-cut the branch, and Norfolk Southern already done crew timing runs from Ayer to Revere in prep. Happened fast...zero to track gangs in a matter of months. NIMBY's unfortunately torpedoed the whole mucho-lucrative operation by convincing histrionic local pols to pass onerous ethanol mixing restrictions on Global to make it uneconomical for them to mix ethanol at all (let alone take the trains), and Mayor Menino passed a (probably very SJC-illegal) City ban on any trucks carrying ethanol to rub his scent all over the proceedings. A couple high-profile train accidents in the news involving fracked Bakken drude oil--which is some of the most volatile/explosive crude on earth to try to transport--got the critics misappropriating very very not-volatile ethanol (which burns tamely enough in-place that the worst you can say is it smells like an arsoned KFC) as "Hiroshima Trains" to whip up hysteria and goad pols into attacking the customer where federal preemption prevented them from attacking the rail delivery. Global had to withdraw the proposal. Anything halfway similar in a now considerably more educated era for fuel distribution ...plus various tiny-scale air cargo augmentation...could get the Eastie Industrial Track back on the board in short order.

Then, of course, there's those black tankers you see in the yard across from the Braintree Red Line platform, where every noontime you see Fore River Transportation--the other state-owned rail operator, a property of Mass Water Resources Authority--drop off another load via the Greenbush Line from Quincy Shipyard. Which CSX will pick up on the overnight to carry the sludge contained inside to somewhere in the Midwest to be processed into bulk agricultural fertilizer at Commonwealth of Massachusetts profit. And as that morning's donut settles in your lower regions you feel a small welling of pride as you...yes you, brave citizen...did your civic doody every day to help fill one of those black tankers for sale at profit. As those come straight across the Harbor from modernized Deer Island Treatment Plant, turning your personal productivity into post-process sludge that is pure cash for your state's coffers. Ah, yes...our regional pride and joy: "The Poop Train." Which gets longer and more profitable each year Metro Boston's population increases, and is maybe our finest working example of port transload micro-targeting since that sludge has now been captured for 25 years for profit instead of being dumped straight into the Inner Harbor. :poop:
 
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GP40MC

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F-Line: I was under the impression that the majority, if not all, tank cars into Quincy are for Twin River Technologies (former P&G) with very little traffic for or generated by the MWRA plant?

D
 

ErnieAdams

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Infrastructure question for the group, thank heavens for generic threads.

The southwest corner of One Financial Center has a separate loading dock from its main receiving area with a sign above it that says "Mass Highway Delivery Entrance" (street view). What is behind this door that would be receiving deliveries? Is MassDOT a tenant of OFC or did they extract some kind of space here as a developer concession when OFC was built in the early 80s? The door is very close to an onramp into the tunnel and would have been very close to the South Station Tunnel back then. I assume there's no kind of service/emergency pedestrian access to the tunnel through here but I think it wouldn't be geographically impossible. Anybody know or remember anything about this?
 

bakgwailo

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Infrastructure question for the group, thank heavens for generic threads.

The southwest corner of One Financial Center has a separate loading dock from its main receiving area with a sign above it that says "Mass Highway Delivery Entrance" (street view). What is behind this door that would be receiving deliveries? Is MassDOT a tenant of OFC or did they extract some kind of space here as a developer concession when OFC was built in the early 80s? The door is very close to an onramp into the tunnel and would have been very close to the South Station Tunnel back then. I assume there's no kind of service/emergency pedestrian access to the tunnel through here but I think it wouldn't be geographically impossible. Anybody know or remember anything about this?
I think your link is broken.
 

dhawkins

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I believe its just a highway garage for equipment. Here are a couple aerial photos from 1969, 1978 and 1995. It appears it was a stand alone building when the "Dewey Tunnel" was first built but then built into the base of One Financial.
FC 1969.png
FC 1978.png
FC 1995.png
 

dhawkins

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Oh wow I had completely forgotten about two financial center. I remember watching that go up on here before I had even signed up yet what feels like forever ago. Another building that melds into the fabric of the city seamlessly.
I know! They don't build'em like they used too!
 

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