Green Line Reconfiguration

F-Line to Dudley

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I haven’t read this thread in great detail but I have a fairly simple question:

What would it take to turn the Green Line from a Trolley to a TRUE Light Rail similar to say LA’s LRT. Or where they can at least use the longer (and admittedly more modern looking) LRT rolling stock as opposed the trolley looking rolling stock and I would thick increase the capacity of the lines
That's exactly what Green Line Transformation is going to do. Longer, all low-floor trolleys derived from off-shelf makes (no more hyper-customization for Boston) that berth at longer platforms, deploy all-doors Proof of Payment to speed boarding dwells, and go to one-man ops (OPTO) to save on staffing costs. A two-car train of future Type 10's will equal the seating capacity of a three-car lashup on Type 7/8/9's.
 

DBM

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1 future LRT extension to Watertown via de-landbanked H2O Branch with short stretch of median-running on Arsenal St. rates very high on bang-for-buck.

Pardon my ignorance, but can you describe the route of this "H20 Branch" corridor? Living south of Fresh Pond for two years, I was always struck by the neglected/limbo-like status of the ROW that starts at Huron Ave, and runs southwest for just short of a mile, past Star Market and the exquisite Sofra bakery, before meeting the Watertown Greenway at Nichols/Arlington/Coolidge Hill. You're not referencing that?

It's a shame that it hasn't been reactivated for some kind of use, either as a bike path or... something... other than the attractive nuisance it's sadly become.

Given the extreme density of the surrounding neighborhood, and it's ability to link-up Fresh Pond, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, and the Charles/Arsenal corridor, I could see it being as heavily-used as the Minuteman [and indeed it's just 1 of 2 missing links to get the Minuteman connected all the way down to the Charles, no?]

I can only imagine it's being held hostage by some intense neighborhood politics? [unless there's some recent good news I'm not aware of, having moved out of the neighborhood a while back...
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Do people in Waltham and Watertown really like the idea of having to swing wide through Belmont, Porter, and Union to get to downtown Boston? A much straighter route from those cities goes through West Station/Boston Landing/Kenmore.
It's not either/or. For Watertown the 57 *and* 71 *and* 70 are all Top 25 ridership routes spider-mapped as Key Routes, fanning out in third positions. Somehow when we Crazy Transit Pitch this on aB we always manage to fall into this trap of thinking Watertown is a problem solvable by crayon drawing some most-perfect singular uni-lined killshot...then heaping scorn at the toplines of somebody else's corridor for winner-take-all rights. It's not mutually exclusive like that at all. There are very clearly 2 or more distinct rapid transit-caliber corridors here, and numerous problems trying to cross-pollenate any of them. Go trans-Allston/Newton, leave way too much Cambridge demand on the table. Go trans-Cambridge, leave too much Allston demand on the table. Split-the-difference with some tortured megaproject down 70's middle lane via West Station, either leave too much of every audience on the table and/or hit a brick wall in ops kludginess. Watertown is only gonna be perma-solved by "strengthening the net" rather than searching under some new rock for that Most Perfect Uni-line. Watertown is a big hub aligned almost on a mid-radial trajectory; you treat and its unchecked growth profile as it is. Tackling the issue in distributed fashion entails. . .
  • Shorter-term: strengthening the existing modes with BRT featuring and Urban Rail frequencies to Newton Corner on the Worcester Line meeting up with BRT featuring
  • Medium-term: pick spots on cost/opportunity for the first major rapid transit interconnect carving one major corridor. The "71" tack via GLX-Porter that utilizes the easier Red contraflow direction for Harvard access is probably cheaper/more-available than Allston for faster start. The resulting build substantially lightens the load on the residual 71 to make the bus snap tighter for the remainders it serves.
  • Longer-term: tackle the other most un-served direction with picking cost/opportunity spots on a second major rapid transit interconnect. This is probably where BLX Charles-Kenmore extended to run under the B&A to West, Newton Corner, and Watertown-via-Galen ends up doing the job, lightening the load on the residual 57 and 70 audiences to snap tighter for their remainders.
"And...applied over time", not "or...winner-takes-all".


For Waltham there simply isn't a ROW available other than the Fitchburg Line. The Watertown Branch is obliterated by lapsed property lines and encroaching development most of the way between School St. and Waltham, and it had the worst-angled grade crossing clusters imaginable so couldn't run the traffic levels. Subwaying between H2O Sq. and Waltham Ctr. isn't possible without big cost blowouts because it lies in the Charles floodplain and linking the two with sub-surface anything is going to be a waterproofing nightmare. Therefore, Watertown can/will be a hubbing spot for linked trips...but it functionally can't be anybody's mid-line node on a one-seat to 128. The Fitchburg Line, however, does have the space for all that and Green has the ops profile to feed it co-equal branch frequencies that diverge past Porter.

Porter superstation already looms large as a solo GLX project for being able to spray lots of Red/Green/Purple/Yellow linked trips all over the map. It becomes an even deeper gravity well for that same behavior when you start plugging more appendages into the mix. Up to and including what future Watertown, Waltham (via Green or :15 Purple), RLX-Arlington, etc. audiences would make use of in the way of spot Urban Ring patterns piped across to Porter from the Sullivan-Chelsea-Logan quadrant.
 

Blackbird

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It's not either/or. For Watertown the 57 *and* 71 *and* 70 are all Top 25 ridership routes spider-mapped as Key Routes, fanning out in third positions. Somehow when we Crazy Transit Pitch this on aB we always manage to fall into this trap of thinking Watertown is a problem solvable by crayon drawing some most-perfect singular uni-lined killshot...then heaping scorn at the toplines of somebody else's corridor for winner-take-all rights. It's not mutually exclusive like that at all. There are very clearly 2 or more distinct rapid transit-caliber corridors here, and numerous problems trying to cross-pollenate any of them.
I guess the problem is that since Watertown currently has zero subway lines, it's hard to imagine it ever having two. But yeah: porque no los dos?

For Waltham there simply isn't a ROW available other than the Fitchburg Line. The Watertown Branch is obliterated by lapsed property lines and encroaching development most of the way between School St. and Waltham, and it had the worst-angled grade crossing clusters imaginable so couldn't run the traffic levels. Subwaying between H2O Sq. and Waltham Ctr. isn't possible without big cost blowouts because it lies in the Charles floodplain and linking the two with sub-surface anything is going to be a waterproofing nightmare
You'd go under US 20, right? I'm surprised that the water table there would be much higher than in other parts of the city that already have tunnels.
 
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Scalziand

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I suppose it's more understandable when you consider that Watertown used to have one as the A-Line.
 

jklo

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I suppose it's more understandable when you consider that Watertown used to have one as the A-Line.
I looked it up and if I am looking at it right it did end in Watertown it's like the edge of it. The A branch was more of a Newton and Brighton line.
 

Blackbird

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I looked it up and if I am looking at it right it did end in Watertown it's like the edge of it. The A branch was more of a Newton and Brighton line.
Definitely a Brighton line. Didn't really reach Newton. It ended at Watertown's edge, but right across the river from Watertown Square, which is the functional center of the city even if it isn't the geographic center. The 57 bus runs the route today.
 

jklo

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Definitely a Brighton line. Didn't really reach Newton. It ended at Watertown's edge, but right across the river from Watertown Square, which is the functional center of the city even if it isn't the geographic center. The 57 bus runs the route today.
It does go by Newton Corner / Exit 17 . That's been talked about a theoretical Worcester Line stop but it's a pedestrian (and car) nightmare so it'll probably never happen.

I doubt Street running is going to make a comeback so I think bringing back the A isn't happening. Unless you are talking about a tunnel.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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You'd go under US 20, right? I'm surprised that the water table there would be much higher than in other parts of the city that already have tunnels.
No...not follow 70 bus/US 20 rote-faithfully between Squares. Consider the history. . .
  • US 20 is bounded by totally homogenous residential, mid-density (i.e. half-acre plots, 1-2 family homes, some but not many apartment complexes), totally old-stock with no upzoning possible, and very pronounced 9-5'er demand skew that drops of a cliff on the off-peak. It would be construction-feasible to subway at considerable utility relocation cost, but the uniformity of the corridor makes it weak for any HRT intermediates and it's never gonna grow appreciably more. The 70 segment between Squares would likely snap nice and tight if you could just tame the overloading on Arsenal/Western with rapid transit TO Watertown. The homes a few blocks north of US 20 also start to get into the walksheds of the ex- Clematis Brook (Beaver St.) and Beaver Brook (Massasoit St. under US 20) Fitchburg Line stops if they get reinstated for :15 Urban Rail, so there's also some duplicating catchment once you get to the 2/3rds mark between Squares.
  • The bigtime growth is being driven in the mixed-use upzoning closer to the river...on the fat band traced by Waltham/Grove St.'s and Pleasant/River St.'s, which the ex-Bemis/Watertown Branch helpfully splits on the midblock. When B&M passenger service still ran here, it was the more heavily-patronized corridor than the Fitchburg main because that's where all the factory jobs were clustered. The 558 more or less traces out the old RR route, but because its frequencies are so uselessly poor the upzoning is currently tracking like a carpocalypse (but is definitely happening nonetheless). However, the blocks south of Waltham St. are closer to the floodplain, and the dams right beside each of the Squares temporarily pulses up the flood risk inconveniently close to where you'd be putting stations.
You could tunnel the 70 on dry land, but it's a long slog of utility relocation headwind for a flat-as-board growth curve and feast-of-famine time-of-day demand. The intermediates would probably be HRT low-outliers on ridership. You could also tunnel under the Bemis Branch, leveraging blocks of Pleasant or Waltham as a backup if there are any encroachments that can't be underpinned. Higher-ridership intermediates, less catchment duplication of the Fitchburg, way more even all-day loading profile. Would lessen the cost burden of utility relocations since they'd only be at the former grade crossings, but bite back at higher waterproofing costs. And this is vanishingly unlikely to be a place where they'd approve of an above-ground El structure instead (which admittedly would solve a lot of problems if it were a realistic approval).

In the end, all of the options are kinda fraught and something less than 'killer app' in execution. So you're probably also looking at "thicken the net" here too rather than turning over rocks for a singular uni-lined killshot. If you implant rapid transit "netting" TO Watertown, you've saved the incumbent buses of all of their schedule-killing overloads. 70 BRT and 558 BRT (to wrestle the redev transit shares away from car overcentricity) probably then tag-team nice and tight for spanning the Squares, and the ease of linked trips @ rapid-transitified Watertown makes it all work nicely as a machine. And meanwhile :15 Urban Rail on the Fitchburg handles the northern walksheds and large share of Waltham Ctr. loading tomorrow, Green Line branch out of Porter along the Fitchburg kicks it up a few notches well further future line. The net effect ends up blanketing all with good transit on all the widely varied places they need to go, even though there isn't some absolute stunner of a uni-corridor popping out on the map.

"Netting" is probably the best way to perceive the solutions here. It's difficult because the multi-directionality of Watertown as a hub is so awkwardly 'tweener-placed vs. the orientation of the rapid transit system and even the inner Urban Ring. It needs a different kind of solutioneering to do justice to how incredibly varied the trip pairs are out here, at least while also contending with a typical slate of unfavorable cost escalations on the candidate corridors.
 

bigeman312

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Pardon my ignorance, but can you describe the route of this "H20 Branch" corridor? Living south of Fresh Pond for two years, I was always struck by the neglected/limbo-like status of the ROW that starts at Huron Ave, and runs southwest for just short of a mile, past Star Market and the exquisite Sofra bakery, before meeting the Watertown Greenway at Nichols/Arlington/Coolidge Hill. You're not referencing that?

It's a shame that it hasn't been reactivated for some kind of use, either as a bike path or... something... other than the attractive nuisance it's sadly become.

Given the extreme density of the surrounding neighborhood, and it's ability to link-up Fresh Pond, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, and the Charles/Arsenal corridor, I could see it being as heavily-used as the Minuteman [and indeed it's just 1 of 2 missing links to get the Minuteman connected all the way down to the Charles, no?]

I can only imagine it's being held hostage by some intense neighborhood politics? [unless there's some recent good news I'm not aware of, having moved out of the neighborhood a while back...
Let me be the bearer of good news!

The Cambridge-Watertown Greenway has been in the works for years and is finally scheduled to open this year. It will run from the Fresh Pond multi-use trail in Cambridge to the existing Watertown Greenway. Connecting the “Alewife Network” of multi-use trails through Watertown.
 

DBM

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Let me be the bearer of good news!

The Cambridge-Watertown Greenway has been in the works for years and is finally scheduled to open this year. It will run from the Fresh Pond multi-use trail in Cambridge to the existing Watertown Greenway. Connecting the “Alewife Network” of multi-use trails through Watertown.
The best possible news. Glad to learn they were doing all that behind-the-scenes work while I was living in the neighborhood. Sofra should set-up a satellite cafe down on the bikepath, once it opens!
 

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