I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

Equilibria

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Activists asked MassDOT to improve the Harvard Flip and Wadsworth Path. No activist asked MassDOT for a 3-track West Station and 2 tracks to bypass West Station.

MassDOT asked FHWA to let them "move on an build something". FHWA said: No you will do the full EIS process. So actually the next two years of the process are absolutely about studying alternatives.
MassDOT / FHWA correspondance: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dQj2Xy1cpZfbDxaFA3cQr02nDtCheULM
No, what FHWA said is "this project is really complicated and the environmental impacts need to be studied in more depth than you're proposing". An EIS is meant to study environmental impacts, not to evaluate design alternatives. The alternatives you're promoting aren't offering environmental benefits (they're actually harming the river relative to the preferred alternative). Rather, you claim they offer operational and quality-of-life benefits.

And every argument you make comes down to "we asked MassDOT to change the project. They changed it, but no one asked for them to do make that specific change, which is stupid and bad". I don't think MassDOT is operating in bad faith and I don't think they're incompetent, I think they're trying to balance more concerns than you are. Some of those concerns aren't worth it (like the layover yard, which shouldn't go here). I said they've been constantly redesigning in response to input - I've read every presentation and watched every livestream, so I know. You're moving the goalposts.
 
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Harry Mattison

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"we asked MassDOT to change the project. They changed it, but no one asked for them to do make that specific change, which is stupid and bad"
Exactly right. We said "please make West Station better". MassDOT made West Station worse. Now how is that moving the goal posts?

Putting SFR in the river for 10 years will harm the river in big ways. A permanent boardwalk for walking & biking, not so much.

"The identification, consideration, and analysis of alternatives are key to the NEPA process and goal of objective decisionmaking. Consideration of alternatives leads to a solution that satisfies the transportation need and protects environmental and community resources. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) refers to the alternatives analysis section as the "heart of the EIS,"
 

Equilibria

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Exactly right. We said "please make West Station better". MassDOT made West Station worse. Now how is that moving the goal posts?
You asked them to flip they station. They found a way to flip it. You aren't happy with the reality of doing what you fantasized about doing. That's not their fault.

Putting SFR in the river for 10 years will harm the river in big ways. A permanent boardwalk for walking & biking, not so much.
EDIT: Ah - I see we're talking about a boardwalk now, which is not what Pioneer proposed. Part of the point of EIS is to determine if SFR in the river causes major damage. We don't know that yet.
 

Harry Mattison

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We asked for a safe, low-stress bike route to the river. We asked for a well-designed Franklin Street Footbridge. We asked for a high-capacity West Station. We've been asking for things like these for 5+ years. Has nothing to do with fantasies. MassDOT making West Station worse is MassDOT's fault, but if you want to blame me for it then oh well.
 

Equilibria

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We asked for a safe, low-stress bike route to the river. We asked for a well-designed Franklin Street Footbridge. We asked for a high-capacity West Station. We've been asking for things like these for 5+ years. Has nothing to do with fantasies. MassDOT making West Station worse is MassDOT's fault, but if you want to blame me for it then oh well.
I'm done with this argument too, so we can move on.
 

KCasiglio

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That people think the west/north station shuttle is a good use of political/financial capital baffles me. This to me seems like the product of siloing projects rather than seeing how they fit into the broader scope of the network.
 

stick n move

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“Harvard says its partnership with MassDOT has been predicated on a four-track West Station. Harvard’s concern: that a three-track option could create a permanent bottleneck, limiting the viability of the future Grand Junction line.”

“The four-track option for West Station, meanwhile, involves both the two Worcester tracks and the two Grand Junction tracks; express trains could still barrel through without stopping, but supporters say that dedicated inbound and outbound tracks for the Worcester and Grand Junction routes would make for far more dependable, frequent service connecting the western suburbs with Kendall and downtown.”

“On Monday night, a MassDOT spokeswoman offered some hope for a new path: She said in an e-mail that the project team is “reassessing the 3 track station and a 4 track configuration” to ensure West Station is robust enough to accommodate the frequent service laid out in the Rail Vision study.”

“These letters of commentary about the Pike project make one thing clear: West Station represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We should get it right, before plans get too far down the tracks.”




- Holy shit... so grand junction is actually going to be used to serve kendall and north station from metro west.
 

JumboBuc

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Re: Grand Junction: Other than all the red tape involved, is there a compelling reason to keep the Grand Junction as DMU/EMU/Freight/Commuter Rail rather than converting it to light rail? It seems like a GLX from the new Lechmere through Kendall to West Station would fit this ROW better, no? Does the track shift of the current GLX (with GL tracks to the north of CR tracks on the Fitchburg line) preclude this? This could also possibly allow for the future pipe dream of GLX from West Station to Harvard Square up across all the Harvard land in Lower Allston.

I know that the Grand Junction is currently used for some very minimal freight and North Side / South Side equipment transfers, but is this vital? Those transfers can happen out around Framingham instead of in Cambridge.

Can someone who understands rail ops better than me show me what I’m missing here?
 

BostonUrbEx

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Those transfers can happen out around Framingham instead of in Cambridge.
Actually it would be all the way out via Worcester and Ayer and involve a couple foreign railroads. Between Worcester and Burncoat is P&W-owned and Burncoat to Ayer is Pan Am.

Freight has ceased, as CSX has routed the traffic to Everett via Pan Am for now. They do still retain rights, however.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The only prerequisite is enough southside vs. norrhside ops + maint independence from each other that any remaining north/south non-revenue swap moves can slim down to 1-2 per week via the Worcester-Ayer bypass instead of 1-2 per day over the GJ. Basically, a target threshold that keeps non-revenue ops and crew hours more or less the same over a course of a week/month in spite of the additional mileage involved.

Nothing otherwise technical or rights-wise precludes it (CSX doesn't run job B721 anymore, but can be compensated with inner Fitchburg Line overhead rights if it ever wants to come back to Everett). No mysteries on the GLX tie-in. You just need an up-front investment in southside rolling stock and maint facilities so ^that^ equipment threshold is met making the move to Worcester County swaps more or less cost-neutral. Substantial southside electrification and EMU adoption would pretty much do that all by itself.
 

Equilibria

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Re: Grand Junction: Other than all the red tape involved, is there a compelling reason to keep the Grand Junction as DMU/EMU/Freight/Commuter Rail rather than converting it to light rail? It seems like a GLX from the new Lechmere through Kendall to West Station would fit this ROW better, no? Does the track shift of the current GLX (with GL tracks to the north of CR tracks on the Fitchburg line) preclude this? This could also possibly allow for the future pipe dream of GLX from West Station to Harvard Square up across all the Harvard land in Lower Allston.
As a follow-on to this... let's assume that the sheeple force MassDOT to put all its eggs in the RUR on GJ solution, as seems inevitable at this point. Let's also assume that the MBTA never wants to spend a dime on Lower Allston again after this for a few decades, so no B-Line tie in. Does Green Line still make sense there? If two of the tracks of West Station were simply converted to GL later, does a branch from Lechmere -> Kendall -> Allston still provide value? Would the station be designed in such a way to permit a portal later if GL ended up there, so that a tunnel could later swing away from the station somehow? Does it make sense for the bus bridge to Malvern to be pre-provisioned for a later GL tunnel-under the Turnpike, popping up on the south side and tying into Packards Corner?

I'm not usually one for Crazy Transit Pitches, but since the community is locking themselves into a future with worse service... how can this be salvaged in 2040?
 

tangent

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As a follow-on to this... let's assume that the sheeple force MassDOT to put all its eggs in the RUR on GJ solution, as seems inevitable at this point. Let's also assume that the MBTA never wants to spend a dime on Lower Allston again after this for a few decades, so no B-Line tie in. Does Green Line still make sense there? If two of the tracks of West Station were simply converted to GL later, does a branch from Lechmere -> Kendall -> Allston still provide value? Would the station be designed in such a way to permit a portal later if GL ended up there, so that a tunnel could later swing away from the station somehow? Does it make sense for the bus bridge to Malvern to be pre-provisioned for a later GL tunnel-under the Turnpike, popping up on the south side and tying into Packards Corner?

I'm not usually one for Crazy Transit Pitches, but since the community is locking themselves into a future with worse service... how can this be salvaged in 2040?

I don't think it is crazy to want to see a holistic (and implementable within a realistic and sufficiently detailed budget) plan for the transportation system. I know such a thing would be difficult (and expensive) to even just create as a one off, but I have seen a lot of projects in Massachusetts end up with ramps to no where because the planning from one decade doesn't carry forward the planning from the previous decade.

I am a big proponent of tunring GJ into light rail or alternatively dedicated bus lanes. Or even EMU service if Cambridge can live with the gates and horn blowing in Kendall. But these are largely incompatible visions of the future. And at this point if none of those three options can be planned for by 2040 then we can split the commuter rail into two maintainable systems and just turn GJ into a bike trail and demo the bridge over the charles (or turn it into a pedestrian bridge).

Forget the specifics for a second though, I think we just need better holistic planning that can actually model out these transportation options in-house without another multi-million dollar study every time a politician sneezes.
 

George_Apley

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New England is too politically balkanized for regional planning. That's why it always fails here. The hyperlocal governance model is much lauded from the viewpoint of political theory, but in practice it actively hinders regional planning and change. To be clear, that is by design.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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As a follow-on to this... let's assume that the sheeple force MassDOT to put all its eggs in the RUR on GJ solution, as seems inevitable at this point. Let's also assume that the MBTA never wants to spend a dime on Lower Allston again after this for a few decades, so no B-Line tie in. Does Green Line still make sense there? If two of the tracks of West Station were simply converted to GL later, does a branch from Lechmere -> Kendall -> Allston still provide value? Would the station be designed in such a way to permit a portal later if GL ended up there, so that a tunnel could later swing away from the station somehow? Does it make sense for the bus bridge to Malvern to be pre-provisioned for a later GL tunnel-under the Turnpike, popping up on the south side and tying into Packards Corner?

I'm not usually one for Crazy Transit Pitches, but since the community is locking themselves into a future with worse service... how can this be salvaged in 2040?
Keep in mind, the tie-in to the Green Line & Central Subway is going to have to be at BU Bridge in order to net any non- dog-slow junctioning geometry, so the critical parts of Urban Ring LRT all happen well east of the West Station/Pike realignment project limits. Plowing out to West then banking a hard left into BU and some other hard left back on-alignment gives up the ghost on any acceptable performance before it finishes making those turns to be practically operable as a service schedule. We've slugged that one out to the nines in Crazy Transit Pitches, and every stab at a Babcock St. subway 1/2 mile off-alignment and framed by unforgiving 90-degree turns out laughably impractical to operate in the real world.

Rather, West Station LRT itself is going to be located on the first 1/3 to 1/2 mile of the Harvard branch spur proposed for the UR...or built as a basic +1 West starter stub out there in a package with mainline UR that later gets infilled on the installment plan into a full branch through Harvard-Allston and finally across the river into Harvard Station. Whether you're burying the B reservation to BU Bridge or doing the more complicated BRT build that had some complex subwaying down Mountfort St. to some TBD portal, the UR interface all happens at BU Bridge because that's the only place where the angles coming across the Charles are anywhere close to favorable for making relatively speed-unrestricted turns on the Boston side.

See crude drawing here:

UR-GL.jpg


So anything and everything having to do with decisions re: West happens elsewhere, because the outer Pike project limits are a decent distance away from all practically operable permutations of the UR's routing linchpin at the bridge. Therefore, the only thing you have to provision is a 2-track reservation for the Grand Junction somewhere within project limits to make it compatible with a UR conversion. It's a pretty low bar for future considerations provisioning, and so far I haven't seen any alt. renders circulated that seem to jeopardize it. So we're A-OK here until proven otherwise.

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

Despite being on a branch, West Station would get its full contingent of headways by virtue of service being able to thru route BOTH from the Kenmore/Central Subway direction OR via Kendall/GJ on matched alternating patterns. While somewhat less of a service density than if West were on the UR mainline (which it can't be on because it's just too far away to direct-interface), it is impressively more than the max you could ever net from RUR and would have the added twist of being fileted to different destinations. On RUR the best-case is 15 minute wait for each Kendall/North Station direction...with a worst-case of several minutes longer than that if the GJ just physically can't go that dense as a RR. On Green a standard surface branch headway is 6 mins., with the UR's native capacity being high enough to support multiple interlined patterns at 3-min. or less. So figure in a worst-case where you're building the full branch to Harvard on the installment plan, starting with a +1 to West that doesn't yet net max service density, and are just running at a base 6-min. clip on the Cambridge Ring until more pieces of it get strung together (Chelsea/Airport, for instance).

  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 12 minutes for a BU/Kenmore/Park St.-or-GC train.
  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 12 minutes for a Kendall/Lechmere/North Station/GC train.
  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 6 minutes for any train that somehow gets you to GC and a transfer to one of the other 3 lines.
...and then it scales up from there as you backfill more service onto the new spine. Until a more practical final target is 6 mins. via Kenmore, 6 mins. via Lechmere, and 3 mins. for an any-train at West.


Compatible with an RUR start then conversion to UR later if it comes to that. But it's pretty ^^self-evident^^ from both raw headways alone and headways × routing flex why UR is so stratospherically better we should bite the big bullet sooner rather than going through the motions with RUR half-measures. Especially when those RUR half-measures are at such high risk of being whittled down to quarter-measures when the GJ's dodgy capacity ceiling as a RR line starts gapping out those 15 min. best-case headways into something much sparser and less useful.
 

George_Apley

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Keep in mind, the tie-in to the Green Line & Central Subway is going to have to be at BU Bridge in order to net any non- dog-slow junctioning geometry, so the critical parts of Urban Ring LRT all happen well east of the West Station/Pike realignment project limits. Plowing out to West then banking a hard left into BU and some other hard left back on-alignment gives up the ghost on any acceptable performance before it finishes making those turns to be practically operable as a service schedule. We've slugged that one out to the nines in Crazy Transit Pitches, and every stab at a Babcock St. subway 1/2 mile off-alignment and framed by unforgiving 90-degree turns out laughably impractical to operate in the real world.

Rather, West Station LRT itself is going to be located on the first 1/3 to 1/2 mile of the Harvard branch spur proposed for the UR...or built as a basic +1 West starter stub out there in a package with mainline UR that later gets infilled on the installment plan into a full branch through Harvard-Allston and finally across the river into Harvard Station. Whether you're burying the B reservation to BU Bridge or doing the more complicated BRT build that had some complex subwaying down Mountfort St. to some TBD portal, the UR interface all happens at BU Bridge because that's the only place where the angles coming across the Charles are anywhere close to favorable for making relatively speed-unrestricted turns on the Boston side.

See crude drawing here:

View attachment 1927

So anything and everything having to do with decisions re: West happens elsewhere, because the outer Pike project limits are a decent distance away from all practically operable permutations of the UR's routing linchpin at the bridge. Therefore, the only thing you have to provision is a 2-track reservation for the Grand Junction somewhere within project limits to make it compatible with a UR conversion. It's a pretty low bar for future considerations provisioning, and so far I haven't seen any alt. renders circulated that seem to jeopardize it. So we're A-OK here until proven otherwise.

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

Despite being on a branch, West Station would get its full contingent of headways by virtue of service being able to thru route BOTH from the Kenmore/Central Subway direction OR via Kendall/GJ on matched alternating patterns. While somewhat less of a service density than if West were on the UR mainline (which it can't be on because it's just too far away to direct-interface), it is impressively more than the max you could ever net from RUR and would have the added twist of being fileted to different destinations. On RUR the best-case is 15 minute wait for each Kendall/North Station direction...with a worst-case of several minutes longer than that if the GJ just physically can't go that dense as a RR. On Green a standard surface branch headway is 6 mins., with the UR's native capacity being high enough to support multiple interlined patterns at 3-min. or less. So figure in a worst-case where you're building the full branch to Harvard on the installment plan, starting with a +1 to West that doesn't yet net max service density, and are just running at a base 6-min. clip on the Cambridge Ring until more pieces of it get strung together (Chelsea/Airport, for instance).

  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 12 minutes for a BU/Kenmore/Park St.-or-GC train.
  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 12 minutes for a Kendall/Lechmere/North Station/GC train.
  • On the West platform you will wait no longer than 6 minutes for any train that somehow gets you to GC and a transfer to one of the other 3 lines.
...and then it scales up from there as you backfill more service onto the new spine. Until a more practical final target is 6 mins. via Kenmore, 6 mins. via Lechmere, and 3 mins. for an any-train at West.


Compatible with an RUR start then conversion to UR later if it comes to that. But it's pretty ^^self-evident^^ from both raw headways alone and headways × routing flex why UR is so stratospherically better we should bite the big bullet sooner rather than going through the motions with RUR half-measures. Especially when those RUR half-measures are at such high risk of being whittled down to quarter-measures when the GJ's dodgy capacity ceiling as a RR line starts gapping out those 15 min. best-case headways into something much sparser and less useful.
All that said, people’s frustrations come from the point that the state is NOT thinking about the above solutions, and the state is going down a path that would push a solution like that deeper into the 21st Century if at all. It’s a pragmatic frustration of “why are we the only ones talking about this, while the state goes in a wildly different and less productive direction?” On this forum we discuss these transit potentials as though they’re foregone conclusions, yet the state agencies are decades behind.
 

whighlander

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I'm coming to the conclusion that RUR @ West is not feasible and any Green Line subway is way into the future
Kendall needs some additional capacity for people to arrive via the T

So here's a kind of new idea derrived in part from some of the earlier Urban Ring ideas:

Silver Line type of Bus Service [e.g. Che;sea route] from West Station to New Lechmere the best immediate solution since a lot of it can be done with minimal changes to the existing infrastructure except for a ramp to the GJ bridge

Here's the route [including the interim route while stations are being constructed]
  1. Start with a bus station @ West Station connected to the platforms on the existing tracks
  2. Enter the GJ route [end of train service only downside]
  3. Cross the river via the GJ Bridge
  4. in Cambridge you build a Chelsea-like Station near the Hyatt which supports the existing west side of MIT
  5. follow the GJ route parallel to Vassar St dig a tunnel under Mass Ave [you can run on the surface streets until its finished]
  6. on to an Underground Station at Galileo & Binney [diagonally opposite Kendall]
    1. While you are building the underground station @ Galileo & Binney -- use Binney Street with a dedicated lane can be used to continue on to the New Lechemere Station via First Street
  7. rise to the surface and then follow a surface route to New Lechmere
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I'm coming to the conclusion that RUR @ West is not feasible and any Green Line subway is way into the future
Kendall needs some additional capacity for people to arrive via the T

So here's a kind of new idea derrived in part from some of the earlier Urban Ring ideas:

Silver Line type of Bus Service [e.g. Che;sea route] from West Station to New Lechmere the best immediate solution since a lot of it can be done with minimal changes to the existing infrastructure except for a ramp to the GJ bridge

Here's the route [including the interim route while stations are being constructed]
  1. Start with a bus station @ West Station connected to the platforms on the existing tracks
  2. Enter the GJ route [end of train service only downside]
  3. Cross the river via the GJ Bridge
  4. in Cambridge you build a Chelsea-like Station near the Hyatt which supports the existing west side of MIT
  5. follow the GJ route parallel to Vassar St dig a tunnel under Mass Ave [you can run on the surface streets until its finished]
  6. on to an Underground Station at Galileo & Binney [diagonally opposite Kendall]
    1. While you are building the underground station @ Galileo & Binney -- use Binney Street with a dedicated lane can be used to continue on to the New Lechemere Station via First Street
  7. rise to the surface and then follow a surface route to New Lechmere
A Green Line subway isn't feasible for eleventy years, but you're going to build exactly the same length of tunneling with exactly the same number of stations on a fatter-width mode on a narrower-width ROW that's built on porous 1905 landfill. And this will be cheaper enough to open in not-eleventy years...because???

Look...throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks is fine for brainstorming an answer to some problem that's stumped for a solution. But why are we reinventing the wheel in rote tunneling on a project that was subject to a thorough official scoping study and does have enough detail pounded out to benchmark costs? All you did here was wholesale-take the same exact proposal, tweak a couple ops factors agnostic to its core mission to make it sound different, airlift it verbatim across the river onto the footprint that hasn't been studied...and declare "Voila!" in total contextual vacuum that doesn't even attempt to factor a cost difference. Such as "What does needing to waterproof soft fill on a 75 ft. wide slab of land cost vs. not needing to do any waterproofing whatsoever on a 150 ft. width street with 45 ft. reservation end up costing me?"...to start with one question that's, oh, merely the most important one in the world for how far "in the future" it's feasible to build. If the Cambridgeport tunnel airlift costs less and is buildable nearer-future because of something intrinsically different on that side...it kind of makes or breaks your whole damn proposal to hazard a guess as to how and why that's so.

Do you really think with how discussed-to-death this topic is that such level of "analysis" lackthereof is going to produce some profound new earth-shattering revelation?


No...it just confirms once again that you can't be arsed to read the basic-most gist of what you're replying to before dumping a lorem ipsum generator's worth of faux-profundity into the post field. As if that weren't already made obvious in quintuplicate from a bushel full of other barely on-topic simultaneous thread-bumps done in the same bordem-fraught evening last night. Maybe you don't remember how tiring this act got before your self-imposed board hiatus when you were doing this nearly every freaking day, but quite a lot of the rest of aB sure does. You're not nearly a skilled enough bullshitter to pass a bad case of the don't-give-a-shits off as oracle. Stop reminding us of that fact, please. (n)

Now...is there an actual thought-through idea in there to parse out and contribute on the topic of MassDOT planning malaise and how to fix it here? What's a non-regurgitation angle we can actually use in some form to advance this here discourse???
 
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ulrichomega

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No...it just confirms once again that you can't be arsed to read the basic-most gist of what you're replying to before dumping a lorem ipsum generator's worth of faux-profundity into the post field. As if that weren't already made obvious in quintuplicate from a bushel full of other barely on-topic simultaneous thread-bumps done in the same bordem-fraught evening last night. Maybe you don't remember how tiring this act got before your self-imposed board hiatus when you were doing this nearly every freaking day, but quite a lot of the rest of aB sure does. You're not nearly a skilled enough bullshitter to pass a bad case of the don't-give-a-shits off as oracle. Stop reminding us of that fact, please. (n)
Can we not?
 

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