Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

The EGE

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Given the rate at which construction is proceeding, I'm actually fairly optimistic that we will see trains run in 2021. Still a lot of unknowns to come, but given that having it spill over into 2022 would be an electoral liability for a lot of people, I imagine there's a lot of pressure to get it done.
 

Arlington

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December 2021 according to the MBTA official website at https://www.mbta.com/projects/green-line-extension-glx
That date seems overly optimistic.
Why "overly?"
That is 14~15 months away.

The plan is that USq branch opens June/July-ish 2021 when the Lechmere bridge/viaduct reopens. That seems possible.

Also given "just fancy slab" stations, I'd say they could easily be near final by spring and have tracks by summer, OCS and signals by fall and tested / operating by Dec 31 ?
 

ra84970

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When does the extension open? 🤔
December 2021 is the date for the Medford Branch. The tentative date for the Union Square branch (*and* the restart of Lechmere and Science Park) is October-November 2021. Pretty much every major project in the US the past few years seems to be delayed by at least a month or two from the original/contractual milestone, however, the GLX has been surprisingly hitting a lot of the milestones despite some headwinds....maybe the 40 years of planning helped?
 

ra84970

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Speaking of Lechmere, the BSRA RollSign magazine dedicated the whole recent issue to Lechmere Station. Did you know Lechmere was a British sympathizing slave owner? I'm surprised there aren't objections to the name, but maybe it's been Lechmere for so long...........PLUS there was the whole department store! :)

The issue was a fascinating read on why the station was created. Prior to Lechmere, streetcars ran through from Arlington, Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge over the newly created viaduct across the Charles River dam, elevated structure to North Station, and then dipped down to the subway at Haymarket. The automobile started messing with running times and schedules, making scheduling streetcars through the subway problematic. The answer was to create Lechmere as a transfer point from the hard-to-predict-schedule of the street running trains to the more predictable schedule of the tunnel & elevated sections. As everyone probably knows, the structure was meant to be temporary......but lasted almost 100 years!

If you love Boston transit, I would encourage anyone to become a member of the BSRA. I have a whole bookcase full of RollSign magazines! https://thebsra.org/bsra/
The history was really fun to read. :)

The creation of Lechmere as a transfer station reminds me a bit of what SF did when it reopened it's MUNI system. Which, it should've done long long ago -- remove as much as possible the through-running/interlining of the street-running branches so that the MUNI subway in SF runs with as much regularity as possible. In the era of bustitution, I'm sure this type of effort would've resulted in a huge fear of bustitution, but, in the current moment, hopefully, it will result in better service regularity in the subway *and* the branches there. Of course, SF Muni opened their system for a handful hours and then shut it down because of overhead power system failures, so, maybe not the best example at the moment.
 

The EGE

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Muni also did a terrible job with the implementation of its redesigned network. Both major transfer points (Church and West Portal) had very clunky transfers requiring street crossings, with truly lousy accessible paths. There was no attempt to coordinate schedules for speedy transfers, much less dealing with truly abysmal terminal headway control to reduce bunching. They very quickly walked changed their messaging to it being a temporary change; there's no way that it would be permanently allowed given the substantial degradation in accessibility.

BERy, on the other hand, did an excellent job with Lechmere and its other transfer stations, which the MBTA desperately needs to replicate. Transfers were cross-platform wherever physically possible, with a minimum of distance and steps no matter what. Frequencies were high (initial Lechmere-subway service was 3-4 minute headways, and at many points it was less than 2-minute headways; connecting surface lines ran on 3-10 minute headways), minimizing waiting time. Transfer areas were sheltered, especially where riders might be waiting for less-frequent service like long interurban streetcar lines. The separation between surface and rapid transit services was used to improve the quality of both services, rather than an excuse to be lazy.
 

ra84970

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BERy, on the other hand, did an excellent job with Lechmere and its other transfer stations, which the MBTA desperately needs to replicate. Transfers were cross-platform wherever physically possible, with a minimum of distance and steps no matter what. Frequencies were high (initial Lechmere-subway service was 3-4 minute headways, and at many points it was less than 2-minute headways; connecting surface lines ran on 3-10 minute headways), minimizing waiting time. Transfer areas were sheltered, especially where riders might be waiting for less-frequent service like long interurban streetcar lines. The separation between surface and rapid transit services was used to improve the quality of both services, rather than an excuse to be lazy.
The BERy experience is so long ago now sadly. I do have to say I think we are lacking infrastructure builders (and designers) who understand how transit actually operates and what makes for useful transit (both operationally and for riders).
 

Wash

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The BERy experience is so long ago now sadly. I do have to say I think we are lacking infrastructure builders (and designers) who understand how transit actually operates and what makes for useful transit (both operationally and for riders).
We have those people, except nobody has any money anymore.
 

Arlington

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As of June status
GLX constructors June 2020
Says:
Dec 2021 opening
Lechmere & U2 platforms done in October/November 2020, so that they'd open a year later seems possible.

Most Medford branch platforms done by January, with Gilman & Tufts by March.

Platform completion lets you build the railroad parts in 9 to 12 months.

They say they are on schedule.
 

Charlie_mta

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Passengers will get a good view into the 3rd and 4th floor units ^. Reminds me of when I'd ride the elevated train through Charlestown just a few feet from the tenement windows along the route.
 

The EGE

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We have those people, except nobody has any money anymore.
Still on this tangent, I got to thinking about cross-platform transfers, and where we have them now versus where they used to be. Currently, we have:
  • North Station: SB Green / SB Orange. The one true cross-platform transfer left on the rapid transit system.
  • Mattapan: OB Mattapan / most buses; IB Mattapan / 28+29+31 is almost cross-platform.
  • Orient Heights: Blue / buses (depends on time of day)
  • Same-platform transfers between Green Line trains
  • Lechmere (under construction)
Now compare that to what was available in the 1930s:
  • Everett: Main Line / streetcars in both directions
  • Sullivan: Main Line / streetcars in both directions (Broadway and Mystic cars only, but the transfer for other lines wasn't bad.)
  • Dudley: Main Line IB / terminating streetcars
  • Fields Corner: Cambridge-Dorchester Line / streetcars in both directions
  • Ashmont: Cambridge-Dorchester Line / Mattapan Line / streetcars in both directions
  • Mattapan: Mattapan Line / streetcars (not sure exactly how it worked)
  • Maverick: East Boston Tunnel / streetcars in both directions
  • Lechmere: Subway streetcars / surface streetcars in both directions
Other major stations were also designed for easy transfer; Andrew and Harvard both had one-way transfer passages, and Massachusetts (Hynes) and Egleston had fare-controlled transfer stations. Most weren't fare-controlled, but major streetcar transfer locations like Watertown, Arborway, and Brookline Village were designed for ease of transfer.

As the MBTA slowly and haltingly awakens from decades of denying that bus service quality and frequency matter, it is vital that we advocate for good transfer design for new stations and renovations. No more consultant-bloat idiocies like the removal of cross-platform transfers at Ashmont and Fields Corner. The GLX stations are mediocre at best, with the street-to-platform distances unnecessarily long.

What opportunities are there to substantially improve transfers on the MBTA that we should be advocating for? My thoughts:
  • Better bus frequency and reliability. Every transfer sucks less if it's quick.
  • Build rapid transit extensions to the major hubs at Roslindale, Lynn, and Arlington - and design them for easy transfers
  • Build better waiting areas at major hubs - clean, monitored by staff, and fully heated and cooled. Every rapid transit station with >2 connecting bus routes, and a number of other hubs, need this. Broadway, Central and Davis in particular come to mind - there's literally nowhere to wait that's not in someone's way.
  • Improve the design of existing stations
    • Fix Field's Corner, for fuck's sake
    • When the Mattapan Line gets Type 9s, build a stub-end terminal within fare control
    • Add elevators for accessible transfers at Fenway
    • Make transfers between the Green Line and the 1, 47, 66, and 86 suck less
    • Put the Harvard Bus Tunnel, and possibly other major transfers, within fare control
 

Vagabond

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Drove by today but couldn't get a good picture - the Community path elevated segments have started to go up North of Lechmere, and are really high up there. The elevation change is going to have those skateboarders heading to the park FLYING down the hill.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Drove by today but couldn't get a good picture - the Community path elevated segments have started to go up North of Lechmere, and are really high up there. The elevation change is going to have those skateboarders heading to the park FLYING down the hill.
The grades there are the ultimate "be careful what you wish for". STEP had to hold the state's feet to the fire to get the last-mile connection across Brickbottom baked into the base design, but the reason the state was so hot to defer it was because of the kamikaze grades. I suspect once they get a look at how steep this is actually going to be there'll be some *mild* and short-lived complaining that it should've been designed better. But it pretty much is what it is. The amount of stacked infrastructure in that one spot is prohibitively difficult, so in a choice of raising trolley grades way steep to performance detriment vs. giving pedestrians an uphill workout and downhill brake test of their self-wheeled contraptions...this was the only correct call.


On the plus side, the entrepreneur who opens a bike shop at Washington is going to get rich quick. I once found out the hard way on the steepest Lexington downgrade of the Minuteman that my old-beater bike's brakes were a ticking time bomb when the front-wheel brake wire snapped at 25 MPH. I paid an immediate visit to that bottom-of-grade bike shop with the back door open trail-side after I'd scorched the soles of my shoes off doing a white-knuckle stop maneuver straddling the edge of the pavement & grass while screaming "NO BRAKES!" at oncomers like an idiot. There's gonna be a few of those moments here, too. Probably a slight bump in business for Cataldo to boot.
 

ra84970

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The grades there are the ultimate "be careful what you wish for". STEP had to hold the state's feet to the fire to get the last-mile connection across Brickbottom baked into the base design, but the reason the state was so hot to defer it was because of the kamikaze grades. I suspect once they get a look at how steep this is actually going to be there'll be some *mild* and short-lived complaining that it should've been designed better. But it pretty much is what it is. The amount of stacked infrastructure in that one spot is prohibitively difficult, so in a choice of raising trolley grades way steep to performance detriment vs. giving pedestrians an uphill workout and downhill brake test of their self-wheeled contraptions...this was the only correct call.
There's already been grousing by the "Friends of" groups for Community, Mystic, and Grand Junction paths about the height of the structure and the fencing design. Also, grousing that the eastside-to-westside transition happens right there giving us this huge structure.
 

kjdonovan

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Major construction of retaining walls, viaducts, stations, and bridges is all supposed to be wrapping up in the early spring of 2021. Though I am suspicious that they will make that deadline--the schedule shared at the last public meeting didn't have the Lechmere viaduct opening back up until later in the spring--I do think 9 months of testing and tidying is enough time to catch up on any major setbacks. There is no new construction to do that hasn't already started and so they have pretty much found all the unknown unknowns by this point. The biggest of which, from what I recall, were utilities and bridgework around Ball Square and Gilman Square.
 

ceo

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It's no longer on their site, but I seem to recall FOTCP's alternative path design included a lower crossing of the Fitchburg Line on a prefab truss bridge, then crossed under the GLX next to the Fitchburg at ground level. Of course, by the time the project was re-bid, some of the supports for the higher crossing had already been built.

Of course, the grade is going to exacerbate the other problem with the path, which is that it's really narrow by modern design guidelines for the anticipated traffic loads.
 

Ruairi

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It's no longer on their site, but I seem to recall FOTCP's alternative path design included a lower crossing of the Fitchburg Line on a prefab truss bridge, then crossed under the GLX next to the Fitchburg at ground level. Of course, by the time the project was re-bid, some of the supports for the higher crossing had already been built.

Of course, the grade is going to exacerbate the other problem with the path, which is that it's really narrow by modern design guidelines for the anticipated traffic loads.
I wonder if, after McGrath is lowered, a lot of bike commuters will exit the path at cross st. and take McGrath boulevard in. Maybe a tricky to use, congested section of path might hasten the lowering of McGrath, maybe not tho.
 

Charlie_mta

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I once found out the hard way on the steepest Lexington downgrade of the Minuteman that my old-beater bike's brakes were a ticking time bomb when the front-wheel brake wire snapped at 25 MPH.
Be really careful about dicey front brakes on a bike. I flipped over the handle bars, going about 25 mph down a hill on a paved road, about 10 years ago because my front pad brakes on my old beater bike locked up all of a sudden. I got a cracked orbital bone below my eye and was in the hospital all day. Lot's of road rash on my face which fortunately it and the cracked bone healed up well. I would have been dead without my helmet protecting my skull. The helmet cracked but it did protect me. I'm still riding a lot today but with a newer bike.
 

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