General MBTA Topics (Multi Modal, Budget, MassDOT)

F-Line to Dudley

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That’s some wiggle in the after shot for a straight track.
Might be a trick of perspective. Looks fully aligned/tamped. Trash train's been using it for a week now.


Note the adjacent pond. Lots of environmental remediation issues with that body of water and managing its drainage. That was the cause of the collapse, as unstable shifting of the water table did a number on the embankment until its sudden collapse in a mass-liquefaction event of the underlying sand (flow signs very evident from the first photo). The new gravel fill is a lot less prone to that kind of catastrophe.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Miscellany from yesterday's FCMB meeting. . .

"Cutting Forward" ( :cautious:) slidepack. Mostly a fluff stats compendium of all the violently negative public feedback, and not any additional substantive detail on the nature of the cuts. Yep...they're still stalling.

Advisory Board "Cutting Forward" report. SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKS, they're vehemently against it and claim MassDOT is willfully exaggerating the size of the FY22 deficit to drive a wedge. I didn't scan the presentation livestream to see if they buried this slidepack in the last 2 minutes out of spite or not. Anyway, given their numbers vs. the state's one of these parties is lying bigly and badly.

Update on climate resiliency systemwide surveys. No big news yet but steps out the summary reporting milestones we get to look forward to in 2021 for each rapid transit line and several categories of systemwide resiliency. Looks like a garguantuan amount of GIS data collection going on, as they do things like systemwide drainage mapping and cross-reffed vulnerability mapping with electrical/signal/comm plant. Should be fun stuff to play around with for independent modeling if they dump the final collection into a public data file.

Professional Services Contract executed for New Quincy bus garage design. No, we still don't have an unambiguous "go" signal from the City yet on this parcel; it's trending optimistically but still not locked down. They are lining up contracts as if they're going to hit the ground running whenever the final-final signoff does come. Read into that what you will.

Courthouse Station leak repairs contract. The pics of all the water damage in that barely 16-year-old station are depressing to look at. Reminds me way too much of Porter lower level. Though needs to be stated that there's always going to be some water table unknowns on a new bore through dodgy fill area, and if this is the one Transitway station that got the ugly end of subterranean flow conditions that's honestly not *too* bad or unexpected given the tunnel's surrounding environment plugged through the odds machine. Programmed work is supposed to be a perma-fix it at the source so this won't happen again, which is good (since they seemingly won't do that with comparison Porter Station).
 
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ErnieAdams

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Cape Main has been back in operation for a week now after lengthy repairs to last month's dramatic Sandwich sinkhole.
They got this repair done in about a month, all while purportedly being mindful of the environmental issues with the adjacent pond. I guess there wasn't any rocket science involved here, but that timeline still feels amazing when you look at those pictures up the page. I know that an emergency repair of an existing line can never be apples-to-apples with any kind of new infrastructure project, but when something like this happens so quickly, every non-emergency infrastructure project timeline feels ridiculously dragged out by comparison. How about this: starting now, every funded project is an emergency. Let's get it all moving!
 

ra84970

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How about this: starting now, every funded project is an emergency. Let's get it all moving!
I have to challenge these words and their impact. Not everything is an emergency because if everything that we as individuals thought was an emergency, both everything and nothing would be an emergency. That's not going to lead to a sustainable development outcome.

In fact, of we treat all infrastructure investments as emergencies, without any other ways to build the capacity of our institutions to deliver better projects, we will wear out and wear down our institutions and, in the more tragically the effective and committed
people behind those projects. I feel like the T going from emergency to emergency should be proof enough that making everything an urgent crisis actually leads to some serious deficiencies to life safety, worker safety, and in the end our safety as the public.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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They got this repair done in about a month, all while purportedly being mindful of the environmental issues with the adjacent pond. I guess there wasn't any rocket science involved here, but that timeline still feels amazing when you look at those pictures up the page. I know that an emergency repair of an existing line can never be apples-to-apples with any kind of new infrastructure project, but when something like this happens so quickly, every non-emergency infrastructure project timeline feels ridiculously dragged out by comparison. How about this: starting now, every funded project is an emergency. Let's get it all moving!
Not quite.

In a *true* emergency where any mission-critical rail traffic would've been cut completely off from the network, they probably would've 24/7'ed this fix in a matter of days into a temp patch + human-supervised slow zone. Possibly with car length restrictions where Mass Coastal would've needed to break up its train, shunt some cars over the patch, then reverse at the next turnout and come back to shunt some more. All while workers did the replacement fill piecemeal around train slots probably in no more than 2 months. You can get it up and running like the world depends on it simply by dumping fill tonnage real real fast. The world just didn't depend on it with this being very deep in the Cape offseason. Yarmouth Transfer Station wasn't overloaded with trash cars--the Trash Train schedule usually slims back from 3 regular days to 2 days + run-as-directed flex this time of year--and could let them pile up in the yard while they did a proper repair. The CCCR Dinner Train's season formally ended in October with no special events scheduled until the Santa Train later this month, so there was no revenue lost by the railroad either. Therefore they could take their time to clean-design a permanent refilling of the embankment in hardened fashion while skipping the true 'emergency' portion of the band-aid.

EPA was definitely cutting the checks for this because the pond was an ongoing (and tortured) drainage mitigation effort whose unstable water levels were 1:1 direct cause-effect of this collapse. Embankments on the side of the pond have had similar sand slip problems for years, though there were never any outlying signs that the rail embankment was this badly compromised because it was inspected intensely for exactly that kind of slow earth movement and showed none of the signs of imminent risk. No one saw the collapse happen. Apparently some neighbors heard it go from beyond the tree line, went exploring and came upon the scene, then quickly dialed 911 because they deftly remembered the Trash Train was scheduled for that morning (it was in-motion only a few miles out). The actual liquefaction event must've looked like tens of tons of sand turning instantly into the consistency of water and splashing like a broken-off piece of glacier into the pond in a matter of seconds. Serious fluid dynamics shitstorm.
 

Jahvon09

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The MBTA has proposed cuts in service that the commuters plan to fight. They fear that for any cuts made, normal service won't be restored, such as the E branch to Forest Hills, which happened in the mid '80s.
 

HelloBostonHi

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In a turn of events that probably won't surprise many people here, most of the more drastic cuts were scaled back in the final service cut proposal, things like maintaining ferry service and E branch to Heath St. Its still a solid service cut, but by framing it this way the media coverage will likely focus more on how much *didn't* get cut instead of what is still getting cut. The MBTA PR department knows what they're doing.
 

Jahvon09

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Looks like some things have changed a little. Not trying to complain, but there's one thing that I just don't understand. If the Red & Orange Lines are getting new trains, Gov. Baker was bosting about how these new trains will improve service to make it better, then why is the MBTA making cuts in service? I can understand about the covid-19, but Why even bother to get the new vehicles for those lines if they are going to be so slow anyway?!
:(
 

ra84970

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What's surprising is that the newest board members - Kornegay and Sullivan - voted down the proposal. I believe they opposed the Lang amendment that limited the FMCB and its successor board to not raising fares until all service hours are restored.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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What's surprising is that the newest board members - Kornegay and Sullivan - voted down the proposal. I believe they opposed the Lang amendment that limited the FMCB and its successor board to not raising fares until all service hours are restored.
Yep...and that's what's getting the play. It's extemely rare for the Board to vote on anything that isn't unanimous-consent, as they usually won't even schedule a vote in the first place if the whip count isn't guaranteed. This one went down as heavily-divided 3-2 decision. The insider-ball read on that I'm seeing from Comm Mag and a couple other statehouse media outlets today is that it's an overt shot across Baker & DeLeo's (but moreso DeLeo's) bow that the perennial punts on any revenue-side action and lame-o "Reform Before Revenue" excuses out of Mr. Speakah's maw have run their course. And next time they better go big or go home at finally substantially addressing that piece before pulling this service cuts hostage act again, or they won't have the votes. DeLeo might be unmoved by such messaging up in his don't-need-to-give-a-shit ivory tower, but Baker/Pollack just got rudely reminded that patience is wearing thin with their diminishing returns on crisis management (which may also reflect mounting frustration with the Admin. on the state's overall backwards track re: COVID).


Any which way, it's not over by a longshot because the federal response to COVID transit relief is still a total unknown with Congressional control still jump-ball and undecided for several more weeks. But doesn't look like they're getting much credit at all for "managing expectations" with the intentional step-down in cuts. No other state went as nihilist/draconian with its first-offer proposed cuts...not even New York/MTA which is singing similarly toxic tune in style if not altogether substance...while every state was similarly playing the managed-expectations game on the rebound. They got a brutal beatdown in public opinion for overplaying their hand, the oversight board already barbecued them for funny math on their projected deficits, and this divided FCMB board vote is as close as you'll ever structurally get to a sanctioned rebuke. Everyone has their knives sharpened to keep pecking away at this and hold MassDOT's feet to the fire to continue whittling down the list of cuts with any changes in perspective or fortunes. That's a lot of coughed-up leverage by Masshole governance standards. Baker/Pollack in no way are better off today than they were a week ago at keeping this wholly under their control. It looks every bit like they overplayed their hand badly and got sacked for a loss. How consequential a loss remains to be seen amid very changeable circumstances, but if there was an attempt at eight-dimensional chess here it backfired on them to some calculable degree.
 
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ra84970

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But I think that they're allowed to raise the fares every two years.
They're "allowed" but the FMCB has a majority on it that says they won't as long as the FMCB is constituted. They limited themselves to not raise fares from FY2019 to FY2022, three years. And it looks like they just limited themselves again, and also voted (which is unclear if it would be valid) for future boards as well.
 

ra84970

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Yep...and that's what's getting the play. It's extemely rare for the Board to vote on anything that isn't unanimous-consent, as they usually won't even schedule a vote in the first place if the whip count isn't guaranteed. This one went down as heavily-divided 3-2 decision. The insider-ball read on that I'm seeing from Comm Mag and a couple other statehouse media outlets today is that it's an overt shot across Baker & DeLeo's (but moreso DeLeo's) bow that the perennial punts on any revenue-side action and lame-o "Reform Before Revenue" excuses out of Mr. Speakah's maw have run their course. And next time they better go big or go home at finally substantially addressing that piece before pulling this service cuts hostage act again, or they won't have the votes. DeLeo might be unmoved by such messaging up in his don't-need-to-give-a-shit ivory tower, but Baker/Pollack just got rudely reminded that patience is wearing thin with their diminishing returns on crisis management (which may also reflect mounting frustration with the Admin. on the state's overall backwards track re: COVID).


Any which way, it's not over by a longshot because the federal response to COVID transit relief is still a total unknown with Congressional control still jump-ball and undecided for several more weeks. But doesn't look like they're getting much credit at all for "managing expectations" with the intentional step-down in cuts. No other state went as nihilist/draconian with its first-offer proposed cuts...not even New York/MTA which is singing similarly toxic tune in style if not altogether substance...while every state was similarly playing the managed-expectations game on the rebound. They got a brutal beatdown in public opinion for overplaying their hand, the oversight board already barbecued them for funny math on their projected deficits, and this divided FCMB board vote is as close as you'll ever structurally get to a sanctioned rebuke. Everyone has their knives sharpened to keep pecking away at this and hold MassDOT's feet to the fire to continue whittling down the list of cuts with any changes in perspective or fortunes. That's a lot of coughed-up leverage by Masshole governance standards. Baker/Pollack in no way are better off today than they were a week ago at keeping this wholly under their control. It looks every bit like they overplayed their hand badly and got sacked for a loss. How consequential a loss remains to be seen amid very changeable circumstances, but if there was an attempt at eight-dimensional chess here it backfired on them to some calculable degree.
It's clearly a shot across the bow for Legislative inaction. I'm wondering if Baker will judo-evade this by pointing to TCI and the ongoing progress to get to Yes with that initiative. We won't see any funds until after 2022, where, we'll have missed most of the economic recovery, so, the pressure will be there for action, but perhaps at least some urgency will be delayed.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Screenshot 2020-12-21 010907.jpg


I just noticed what looks like an abandoned platform with steps down from Somerville Ave. Can anyone confirm what this structure is?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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View attachment 9025

I just noticed what looks like an abandoned platform with steps down from Somerville Ave. Can anyone confirm what this structure is?
The pre-1984 Porter CR station, from before the current station's opening. Last surviving residue from that now being scrubbed to strengthen the retaining wall before the Somerville Ave. sidewalk collapses.
 

HenryAlan

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I just noticed what looks like an abandoned platform with steps down from Somerville Ave. Can anyone confirm what this structure is?
What I'm noticing is that your google earth view has a purple line on it. Mine only shows the rapid transit lines. How do you get the commuter rail layer?
 

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