I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

JeffDowntown

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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.
Is it practical/possible to construct the GJ LRT link Lechmere to West Station (perhaps beyond) first, with provisioning for the UR link/BU tunnel section later? Is that connectivity enough to get started with (and is it valuable for Kendall as well)?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is it practical/possible to construct the GJ LRT link Lechmere to West Station (perhaps beyond) first, with provisioning for the UR link/BU tunnel section later? Is that connectivity enough to get started with (and is it valuable for Kendall as well)?
In engineering scruples...yes, I guess you could open a Phase I West linear Green Line branch and pair-match it to the E or GC loop to get something going. It would be instantly better than a gapped-out RUR quarter-measure, but that's really not saying much with how extremely weak the RUR option is. It's a diluted-at-best effort for addressing the true demand issue we're trying to uncork here with the mega ceiling of both the corridor at-large and the bigtime transit nodes like West it's trying to cultivate. So in real public and political perception I don't know how opening a third stub-end GL northern branch has anywhere near enough juice by its lonesome to get itself going unless the BU Bridge/Kenmore interface is in active fund-design-build simultaneous with it. As in, it's OK if you're partitioning a singular project to get one phase open 3 years early and cushion the other phase by 3 years for extra time/funding/etc. But it still in all practicality needs to be one effort, one build...and no punts leaving wide-open uncertainty about when/if the rest is going to be funded and finished in due time. The BU Bridge junction--be it LRT or the BRT variant with a Mountfort tunnel portaling near Yawkey--IS the star because that's what provides the exponential service increaser. You really aren't going to sway the Legislature to bat an eye at it without that piece being front-and-center driving the value proposition for the whole funding package.
 

JeffDowntown

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In engineering scruples...yes, I guess you could open a Phase I West linear Green Line branch and pair-match it to the E or GC loop to get something going. It would be instantly better than a gapped-out RUR quarter-measure, but that's really not saying much with how extremely weak the RUR option is. It's a diluted-at-best effort for addressing the true demand issue we're trying to uncork here with the mega ceiling of both the corridor at-large and the bigtime transit nodes like West it's trying to cultivate. So in real public and political perception I don't know how opening a third stub-end GL northern branch has anywhere near enough juice by its lonesome to get itself going unless the BU Bridge/Kenmore interface is in active fund-design-build simultaneous with it. As in, it's OK if you're partitioning a singular project to get one phase open 3 years early and cushion the other phase by 3 years for extra time/funding/etc. But it still in all practicality needs to be one effort, one build...and no punts leaving wide-open uncertainty about when/if the rest is going to be funded and finished in due time. The BU Bridge junction--be it LRT or the BRT variant with a Mountfort tunnel portaling near Yawkey--IS the star because that's what provides the exponential service increaser. You really aren't going to sway the Legislature to bat an eye at it without that piece being front-and-center driving the value proposition for the whole funding package.
I am mostly thinking about construction (and design) timing.

Plan (and fund) both Phases together, but realize that the BU subway is likely a much longer project than the Lechmere to West Grand Junction LRT. (Although I could be misreading the relative complexity.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I am mostly thinking about construction (and design) timing.

Plan (and fund) both Phases together, but realize that the BU subway is likely a much longer project than the Lechmere to West Grand Junction LRT. (Although I could be misreading the relative complexity.)
It's not all that complex overall. About 4500 tunneling feet grand total for all components. Dig straight under the mostly utility-free B reservation to Carlton St., requiring at most left-lane shifting or left-lane closures on Comm Ave. to work in the trench. Mercifully few utility relocations and ultra-wide roadway width speed the schedule by keeping necessary block-to-block mitigations at a bare minimum, such that this can be blitzed in a couple years. 1 station cavern hollowed out at the St. Mary's intersection in front of Marsh Plaza. From Carlton to the hillside portal, a slight curve through the BU Academy parking lot for the UR route skirting the Pike footprint, and a flyunder junction of the Pike for the B portal (outbound side swings out slightly and descends under the UR level, inbound side stays straight but inclines under the Pike). New B portal at roughly where the west end + crosswalks of the BU West platform currently is, proceding into a St. Paul platform. During construction inbound B service is temporarily turned back at St. Paul/BU West and shuttle-bused to Kenmore. Covered surface then restored as extension of Comm Ave. Mall to BU Bridge, with whatever Bike infrastructure you feel like framing the park with.

Say you were to take as gospel the state's original Red-Blue cost estimates with their unprecedented contingency padding and nonintuitive construction methods (i.e. multiple methods including deep-boring under a street that most other experts conclude is spot-on ideal for uniform cut-and-cover at lower cost). And say you were to treat that as some sort of impenetrable cost floor for any tunneling of any kind, because we live in a horrible world of induced inefficiency where Not Invented Here syndrome makes us have to assume NYC-level overruns for damn near anything civilly engineered. Despite all that it is still physically impossible to come up with a more costly estimate for the BU Bridge subway than Red-Blue, because the digging is so much more strictly uniform in nature with such lower quantity of utility relocations. In the real world where R-B gets a sane adjusted-down valuation it's still probably not going to cost more than the Red-Blue we know we can build. Figure this:
  • tunneling feet: Comm Ave. > Cambridge St.
  • flyover junction: Comm Ave. > Cambridge St.:
  • stations: Comm Ave. (ultra-wide footprint, no attached structures) Cambridge St. (narrower footprint, required structural integration with RL Charles)
  • utility relocations: Comm Ave. < Cambridge St.
  • traffic mitigation Comm Ave. (slight width advantage) < Cambridge St. (emergency vehicle traffic). Even if the Pike throws in some complication, the narrow angle the St. Paul portal tunnel cuts under it means you can cover the roadway with temp metal plating + smooth-over top layer of pavement + "BUMP" signage for prepping the undercut rather than needing to close any lanes.
  • geological inconsistency: Comm Ave. (flat uniform fill) < Cambridge St. (base of a hill)
  • structural avoidance: Comm Ave. (way far from buildings, portal buffered from nearest BU Bridge pilings) < Cambridge St. (tail tracks must split around RL viaduct pilings)
  • demolition: Comm Ave. 0 < Cambridge St. (Bowdoin Loop retaining wall demolition to straighten alignment)
Tunneling feet + presence of junction runs up the score initially, but the significantly greater simplicity in all other respects knocks it back to near-par. Tally it all up and you should end up within single-digit % of par budgets for both the Blue and Green/UR tunnels. Now, of course the UR is a further-reaching project than Red-Blue encompassing all of the Grand Junction conversion and (relatively simple) Union Branch hook-in in addition while Red-Blue is just the tunnel. But it's also going to move a shitload more daily passengers when complete so the value proposition of the whole-shebang is in a different stratosphere too. Since tunnel is the most inapproximate type of construction to factor beforehand, to be safe in this case we're simply looking at what properties encourage and what properties limit the blowout potential. Then comparing it to a KNOWN project (Red-Blue) that has a readily available foul-smelling blowout estimate and far less costly cost-corrected estimate to usefully compare with. We can determine a range based on where R-B estimates blew out...then...didn't blow out. And if the blowout potential here ends up being sharply constrained by all the places where the engineering is easier on Comm Ave. than Cambridge St. you can reliably conclude that the chances of netting an off-scale whopper estimate are attractively lower. While the chances of netting a real-world actualized adjusted estimate are no worse than equally good.

So it will never ever come in more than Red-Blue's highest-ever estimate, and more than likely come within rounding error of Red-Blue's adjusted. We know Red-Blue's adjusted estimate is a slam-dunk build, and that in spite of the Grand Junction surface portion still needing to be fully vetted the Urban Ring's upside is intrinsically higher than a +1 w/transfer. So if you net a BU Bridge tunnel that's within single-digits % rounding of Red-Blue, you know you have a slam-dunk here too.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Continued. . .

RE: build costs on the BRT-option Urban Ring. . .

The BRT tunnel proposal isn't a whole lot different overall from the Green Line hook-in tunnel. It's just got slightly higher per segment risks for cost increases because BRT-radius tunneling overall is a more poorly understood task. Complicated by Boston's somewhat tortured history of taking a study alignment and actually designing the tunnel, given the Silver Line Phase III big bellyflop at design phase. In this case you'd have 1 wholly new added cost to factor in needing to demo/rebuild the Charles rail bridge for a wider bus bridge instead of just recycling the verbatim rail bridge with LRT. Portal would be on the same place on the same hillside. Only instead of curving under Comm Ave. the BRT tunnel goes straighter under Mountfort St. Possible cost increase there if the Pike overpass footings have to be heavily modified or the Pike bridge has to be replaced yet again to fit tri-level stacking of transpo infrastructure. Tunnel under Mountfort, which may require more utility relocation than the B reservation does but will have far easier side access from the hillside embankment next to the Worcester Line to speed along the staging. So probably par. UR scoping study did not spec an intermediate station in the BU East vicinity, though you probably could do one without too much trouble by working the Carlton-St. Mary's block where the hillside is at its fattest. Probably par with BU East subway station on costs, though the slightly more off-center location leads to a little less utilization. Portal up after crossing Beacon at Maitland St. Because the C & D tunnels split on the Maitland/Miner block you'd have to stick closer to Maitland to limit the underpinning to just 1 Green Line tunnel placed prior to the C/D split's junction cavern. Interface with the rest of the world is Landsdowne (ex-Yawkey) CR station with the surface lots between buildings being the busway and looping area. The Urban Ring NW and SW quadrants would join here for cross-platform transfers and/or interlining. About 3500 ft. total tunneling.

Figure best-case it's about par cost with the GL option, but the potential for minor/moderate bloaters on each segment is higher. And the total throughput + overall upside somewhat lower than LRT. Basically, it's only outright better than LRT if the LRT option trends towards the high end of that Red-Blue comparison on costs we acknowledge could sail higher (like the total tunneling feet running it up). And generally speaking if any overruns start nicking up the LRT alignment it's probably going to start driving up the BRT alignment in tandem because the engineering properties encountered on Mountfort are very similar to what's encountered on Comm Ave. I can't foresee the two options somehow diverging in different directions on cost scale, so if one takes an unforeseeable project-threatening dinger the other's estimate most certainly bloat too. It's mainly about the LRT vs. BRT philosophical choice. BRT accomplishes the same overall Urban Ring mission statement as LRT, so if you're philosophically wedded to one mode over the other for the citywide transit "vision thing" that mode is going to have certain advantages and scalability going for it from well beyond the project area. Head-to-head it's hard to see how BRT comes out ahead of LRT overall, but if Boston is going big across the board with BRT (like it was supposed to before SL Phase III impaled itself) the shoe still fits and it's an eminently valid choice.

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

RE: direct access to Kenmore Sq, which you do explicitly get with LRT. . .

The original UR scoping study was fuzzy about how the Yawkey/Landsdowne-centered BRT interface would tie in at Kenmore-proper. That's because it's not possible to build a lower-level tunnel WITH loop straight in Kenmore. You have a narrow angle straight-in/straight-out shot from Beacon St. to Brookline Ave. that attractively limits its required underpinning of the GL station. We speak of that second-level tunnel trajectory most frequently in BLX Charles-Kenmore threads re: the Storrow Dr. transit trade-in scheme. But straight-in/straight-out isn't going to work for a Landsdowne BRT tie-in needing to make a distended loop at Kenmore. There's structurally no room independent of the Green Line underpin for a BRT-width turning loop, and the intersection angles are way too sharp around all required building mitigation to turn a bus around the block. Everything ends up a lethal blowout on required structural mitigation. So the UR scoping assumes that anything thru-routed from Landsdowne CR to Kenmore is going to be running on surface streets to the busway on some around-the-block circuit TBD.

That works most of the time, but it's going to be awfully brittle at high loads to try to time it all through multiple traffic signals and the horrible traffic. Especially the 81+ days a year the Sox are home. And they have to find a way for bus bunching to not torpedo Kenmore busway, because you'll be adding 3 separate new BRT-headway routes (from Harvard via the NW-quadrant Ring, from MIT via the NW-quadrant Ring, and from Longwood/etc. via the SW-quadrant Ring) running 60-footers into the existing mix of routes 57/8/19/60/65 at the busway. I'm at a loss to explain how all those schedules stay out of each other's way. This interface requires significant further study, because right now it's the weakest ops link by far in the whole BRT scheme and the mitigation options are not real plentiful. At minimum it looks like transfer options would have to be fragmented to some share of them only happening at Landsdowne vs. some prioritized or rotating share continuing on to Kenmore...which is going to be fugly and unsatisfying for wayfinding. At least with LRT you're just hopping across a single platform or upstairs/downstairs to transfer, and only 1 additional surface route (SW quadrant Ring BRT) would need to take up headway bandwidth in the surface station...a far more reasonable ask for the busway's capacity.

TBD overall, because they've got a lot of refinement work in further studies to do on this piece of the puzzle before we've got a complete picture of what the full-functioning BRT option is going to look like. The final alternatives they come up with could feasibly come out "good enough" to work in practice under varied loads, but the Kenmore interface is always going to stick out as a potential undermining concern.
 
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Charlie_mta

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Here come the environmental opposition to the temp-construction bridge over the Charles:

It's probably impossible to put anything (bride(s) or a fill) into this stretch of the Charles River, even if it's temporary. Every environmental extremist in the Boston metro area will swarm in on this one. Cambridge is especially fierce in that regard, and it's right across the River.
 

dhawkins

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There needs to be another bridge over the Charles that would provide a more direct route from Memorial Drive to the turnpike interchange A new one way Pleasant Street Bridge out of Cambridge that aligns with Hotel Way which appears to be an under utilized street could be an option.
 

Deetroyt

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What scale would cost estimates on NW quadrant Cambridgeport-Lechmere look like at LRT? You’ve talked about overpasses at Mass. Ave., Cambridge St. and maybe a couple others plus the duck-under to tie in with Union Sq. Would the rest of it be closer to SL3 in Chelsea? Laying tracks and hanging catenary must be more but for example would Cambridgeport Station be similar to Eastern Ave? Just trying to get an idea of relative ballpark costs.

Edit: this was in reply to F-line post but I realize it probably belongs in another thread.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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What scale would cost estimates on NW quadrant Cambridgeport-Lechmere look like at LRT? You’ve talked about overpasses at Mass. Ave., Cambridge St. and maybe a couple others plus the duck-under to tie in with Union Sq. Would the rest of it be closer to SL3 in Chelsea? Laying tracks and hanging catenary must be more but for example would Cambridgeport Station be similar to Eastern Ave? Just trying to get an idea of relative ballpark costs.

Edit: this was in reply to F-line post but I realize it probably belongs in another thread.
Probably similar to SL3 with overall with the electrification infrastructure being the one above-and-beyond big-ticket item, as there are no 600V DC interconnects between the Red Line @ Kendall and the Green Line @ BU meaning that desert has to be filled with new transmission capacity. Doesn't necessarily have to be direct-lineside located, but couple new substations will have to be built within a 500+ ft. radius of the ROW.

Mass Ave. is the only grade crossing you must eliminate. Cambridge St. is maybe a nice-to-have if you're running way under-budget and have spare cash to burn, but there's an adjacent pedestrian signal for the Millers River Apt. tower and not an enormous amount of congestion around it so repurposing it into a station signal does no tangible harm. Binney can outright close, and the other three stay because Main/Broadway aren't eliminable and Medford St. is too low-volume to bother.

Cambridgeport Station is probably an open facility positioned where Vassar & Waverley squeeze closer together. Since the Ft. Washington Park ped crossing needs to be accommodated somehow you're probably looking at a setup much like Longwood on the D where the station platform provides safety cover for a very active ped crossing. No prepayment lobbies anywhere here; this ROW is level with all its surroundings unlike GLX where all stops are way down in a cut making up/down lobby access non-optional.

The underpass of the Fitchburg Line to the Union Branch would not be a tunnel...just a shallow open trench passing under each individual surface track and splitting into a flyunder junction that merges in underneath the McGrath overpass. Yes, there's enough room.


I could go block-by-block in more detail, but that's the gist of the Cambridge side. No major surprises. Just don't overcomplicate like shooting for grade separation perfection and it ends up doing exactly what it says for exactly what your informed planning intuition says it should cost.
 

jklo

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Is it practical/possible to construct the GJ LRT link Lechmere to West Station (perhaps beyond) first, with provisioning for the UR link/BU tunnel section later? Is that connectivity enough to get started with (and is it valuable for Kendall as well)?
All Harvard wants is that the people who live at the new development can easily and directly get to Kendall by rail. Anything else, ie: extending it in any direction, tracks being Green or CR, etc, isn't a concern.

But I insist that Cambridge does not want GJ; and it's going to be gone 10+ years. Hence why they are pushing the trail. So even with Harvard's influence it's not a given that they will get what they want.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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But I insist that Cambridge does not want GJ; and it's going to be gone 10+ years. Hence why they are pushing the trail. So even with Harvard's influence it's not a given that they will get what they want.
This is inaccurate and misleading, and really needs to stop being repeated because it greatly confuses the issue. City of Cambridge does not oppose the GJ. There wouldn't be 10 years of ongoing corridor transpo planning dialogue if they did.

Cambridge opposed specifically ex-Lt. Gov. Tim Murray's premature proclamation of a Worcester-North Station train fast-starts project that jumped the gun on the release of the actual feasibility study on that. They got blindsided by Murray skipping all local input and reacted with predictable anger. Murray being a tone-deaf dunderhead was what they were reacting to, not the idea of Grand Junction transit. I watched those meetings on CCTV as they happened; it was made abundantly clear where the beef was and was not.

Gov. Patrick reopened that wound with the 2024 Olympics DMU dinky plan, since that was announced without so much as a guess as to whether the line could handle the step-up in service. But the opposition was muted this time in part because no one (correctly) took Patrick seriously that it would ever happen. The current Rail Vision proposal has enough of a formal reporting structure to it that no action is going to happen without full traffic modeling and every stakeholder having their seat at the table. There's been little to no palpable hand-wringing as a result. If it's going to wreck traffic at the crossings, the RUR plan flunks its modeling and that's the end.

This myth persists only because Tim Murray was a colossal idiot that one time.

As for "going away"...will never happen. The T only vacates the north-south equipment shuttle if there is compelling transit mandate forcing them to lateral over to Worcester County. Because Worcester County is a more expensive routing for running those trains. They're willing to do it if certain north-south equipment independence thresholds are met limiting frequency of the Worcester County moves, because rapid transit on the GJ corridor has so much up-up-side the slight CR ops inconvenience is well worth it. But absent that mode-switch upside they have zero incentive to ever move the swap route, and all the disincentive to ignore any whining about it. Nor can they ever be compelled to by outside pressure or institutional clout.

The rails will never be 'gone' or wholesale-replaced by a trail. The literal worst-case for local politics collapsing on itself is the same single RR track running the same daily swap moves with nothing more...until the end of time. Total non-change from status quo. Which also means the status quo never changes on compatibility for a mode change. It can always be converted. Just how many years is it going to be sitting there in state of barely-use tormenting us to do the conversion before we get our shit politically together?
 
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jklo

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As for "going away"...will never happen.
Pretty sure the project docs say the GJ will be unavailable and the connection severed during the entire construction. If it ends up being 10 years, that's a long time that Cambridge residents will have the trail without any trains going on it. By pushing the trail, it ensures that they will get the popular support among Cambridge residents to keep it a trail and not put GJ back in service after so long.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Pretty sure the project docs say the GJ will be unavailable and the connection severed during the entire construction. If it ends up being 10 years, that's a long time that Cambridge residents will have the trail without any trains going on it. By pushing the trail, it ensures that they will get the popular support among Cambridge residents to keep it a trail and not put GJ back in service after so long.
Cambridge can't "keep it as a trail" no matter how bad they want it. It's a federal railroad subject to interstate commerce preemption. It can stay out of service for 75 years if it has to, but no local input whatsoever is required for resuming service. And it can't be force-converted to non-RR use; the T, Amtrak, and CSX all must separately and voluntarily file with the Surface Transportation Board to abandon their operating rights...and then and only then when those are approved can the T and MassDOT file another set of STB dockets to transfer it to landbanking for non-RR use. If any segments get laid rail-with-trail on easements during or prior to the Pike putting the tracks temporarily out-of-service, nothing changes. The RR's don't have to ask for permission to start running, and they can't vacate their rights without self-initiated federal action. Additionally, NNEPRA and States of New Hampshire & Maine plus Everett Terminal's owners will need to file support statements to those STB dockets accounting for any possible complications to Downeaster equipment moves and long-term valuation of the port's freight rights. All 3 RR operators and their partners would never do such a thing, and any local-politics end runs to force them against their will are quite literally illegal and many-times-affirmed unconstitutional.

The T--as previously mentioned--will not willingly move non-revenue swaps to Worcester County unless it is permanently incentivized for the somewhat higher operating cost out there with a huge farebox windfall from the corridor conversion. MassDOT can ask them to all they want at the Admin's beckoning, but as long as CR ops are still being contracted out the T as an agency has fiduciary responsibility to oppose it because the value of their ops contract depends on them not making Keolis et al.'s life harder at living within their means on non-revenue ops. If that corridor is generating $0 revenue as a trail instead of far-greater-than-CR revenue as a rapid transit line, the permanent revenue offsets aren't available to make it worth everyone's while. They'll be hurrying up to reactivate the second the Pike project is done. Amtrak (with NNEPRA in support) in turn has vested interest in protecting Downeaster equipment fluidity and profit margins from equipment availability. They have no incentive to support anything less than the high-frequency rapid transit pipe that outright pads Downeaster margins by making North Station a much larger destination. National Amtrak, in addition to having zero incentive to return a phone call from City of Cambridge for any reason whatsoever, has every incentive to protect itself on precedent from being badgered by nuisance trail requests around the country on trackage rights it holds. Notoriously don't-give-a-crap CSX (with the Terminal in support) isn't going to give up the leverage of its paper rights without being able to cash it in for a big windfall of freight improvements in the same way that it rolled the Beacon Park land swap into a quid-pro-quo laden megadeal involving hundreds of miles in line sales and intermodal upgrades worth billions. It is entirely possible that the Urban Ring ends up a linchpin of the B&A Worcester-Springfield line sale negotiations, where they'll agree in the fine print (much like other such rights transfers in the Beacon Park deal) to go quietly for the Urban Ring--but only for the Urban Ring--if the greater Inland Route dealing sweetens the pot with another big "Pimp My Yard" funding package. They don't deal unless it's big. In fact, try to bully them on something very small they're holding onto in perpetuity--like a few Worcester County towns have with torturous trail lease negotiations on abandoned lines--and they go straight to spite.

All of these parties must co-sign, so it's not enough to work out a favorable deal or put a gun to the head of one of them but have the national carriers sitting in neutral-or-worse shape at the prospect of signing away their rights. That's instant rejection, and quite likely a flurry of adverse-abandonment filings from them and their support partners so the feds chasten anyone else from continuing to pursue it. If there's one thing the Feds consistently do not kowtow to, it's rail trail politics trying to take a States' Rights stand on preemption via end-runs or stubbornness. It's been tried before, many times, on many active and out-of-service corridors. The locals agitating for abandonment lose every single time, in every single state, whether they're backed with big pockets and institutional support or not. It will not be different here. If that branch comes off the RR network, it will only be so it can host a vastly higher-frequency mode with the economic juice to make it worth everyone's while. No other reason will suffice for all the heavies who would have to join hands to change the corridor's designation.
 
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jklo

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The T seems fine with it or they would be trying to kill this project. 10 years is a long time to think they will instantly go back to their old methods the moment they can.

My suggestion is that if Havard/T/etc is serious about not losing the GJ they should be planning and executing what would be needed to build the double track and stations today. I think you would get ridership even just from North Station.
 

whighlander

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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???
F-Line

Actually I read most of the official stuff -- I don't bother with most of the "unofficial comments" because most of it is illogical, piled on irrelevant assumptions from the past [Urban Loop / Ring] or has not incorporated recent developments either from the demand or supply sides.

You can quote all you like from studies made during the 1980's to 2000 and you might as well have quoted from studies made during the first few years of the T. No one is going to extend the Red Line along the old rail right of way through Lexington. However, while the Seaport is mostly stuck with what has already been done except for possibly digging under D -- Kendall and Cambridge Crossing are able to capitalize on a mostly restricted ROW used by a few trains. Today we have a Cambridge version of the Minuteman Bikeway in the form of the existing stretch of the GJ Path -- but it could easily support Chelsea Silver Line type of service certainly from the end of Vassar St to an intersection of some sort with the Green Line near to New Lechmere

That was the essence of what I was saying in the post -- of course there can be much more to study and ruminate over such as tunnels and underground stations -- but the non-rail GJ BRT is startable in less time than it will take to finish the GLX

The rest of your post was mostly ad hominum attacks -- the subsequent post by another was entirely devoid of content
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-Line

Actually I read most of the official stuff -- I don't bother with most of the "unofficial comments" because most of it is illogical, piled on irrelevant assumptions from the past [Urban Loop / Ring] or has not incorporated recent developments either from the demand or supply sides.
See...this sentence sounds on first glance like it's saying something. But the underlying premise is utter gobbledygook. You claim to know the official stuff, but either misquote/misread it or blanket-dismiss it for reasons you won't ever justify. Then you copypasta large portions of it and drop it into an irrelevant application, cloaking it in the language of disruptive innovation and blah blah blah to make the resulting listicle sound profound.

It's bullshitting, is what it is. Civil engineering of public services lives and breathes in a world of facts and figures. We USE THEM to solve problems, even when we disagree with aspects of the data collection or conclusions. It's not this mysterious alchemy that only self-annointed wizards can claim to understand and apply. That you don't bother with real information because it's trite or boring to you and you'd rather play medieval oracle is exactly why this posting behavior is such a chronic, thread-derailing problem. Especially when you're doing it to a half-dozen different threads in one evening...lest we forget that this thread was hardly the only example from that same night.

You can quote all you like from studies made during the 1980's to 2000 and you might as well have quoted from studies made during the first few years of the T. No one is going to extend the Red Line along the old rail right of way through Lexington. However, while the Seaport is mostly stuck with what has already been done except for possibly digging under D -- Kendall and Cambridge Crossing are able to capitalize on a mostly restricted ROW used by a few trains. Today we have a Cambridge version of the Minuteman Bikeway in the form of the existing stretch of the GJ Path -- but it could easily support Chelsea Silver Line type of service certainly from the end of Vassar St to an intersection of some sort with the Green Line near to New Lechmere
Nobody is talking about Red-Lexington in this thread. Nobody is talking about the Seaport in this thread. That's bullshitting. This is a discussion of West Station, and the planning malaise that's senselessly slowing this project down because the planners seem incapable of looking outside their own target-fixated renders to the adjoining pieces they have to work with. The studies referenced are the ones directly affecting the project area, not some grab-bag of semi-relevant and totally irrelevant stuff. You're only bringing those corridor-irrelevant studies up here as cover for your ^initial^ intrusion of never needing to be bound to any facts whatsoever when feeling the urge to thread-bump 6 threads of context-free bullshitting on a bored evening.

It's a "vision thing" project where the ineptitude of keeping short attention spans on the "vision thing" is frustrating the works. We have a little tangent going in the how/why's of the Grand Junction conversion, but it loops right back into the "vision thing" for West and the frustrating unwillingness to draw a dashed-line relationship from the Pike/West project area to the very well-studied options for feeding it. So we end up with this bland assumption of the RUR option, when the RUR option hasn't even been fully-studied at the required service levels and has high risk of not happening at all once they start running into issues sustaining the spec headways. It's setting a course for a preordained conclusion of nothing getting built. We shouldn't have to settle for that. Now, that doesn't mean there's no better "vision thing" alternative to pursue than Urban Ring LRT, and everything is forever horrible if they don't make that their first reach. Hardly. There are LOTS of things they could be considering for the pan-West vision that show a bit more planning integration and imagination than what we've seen to-date. Urban Ring just happens to be the easiest-reach of them all to talk about, because it's so extremely well-studied and because the latest vision struggle to make the news is over what straws they're grasping re: what to do with the Grand Junction platform berths at the station. It could very successfully be the BRT option; as described in my LRT vs. BRT comparison post it accomplishes the same mission statement in pretty much the same way with pretty much the same number of remaining question marks to answer with further study before it's on solid enough ground for a-go. The planning answer could very successfully involve other things not related to the radial transit line, or addressing radial transit right this second. There's no shortage of solutions to bring in from the outside and match to this project. That's what makes the growing brainfreeze scope-wise so disconcerting to watch with it all; they've lost the ability to perceive the whole universe outside that shaded "project limits" map.

It directly addresses the vision problems to rehash the UR scoping studies and apply it to reversing the brainfreeze we're talking about here. Thus, corridor-wide Grand Junction rapid transit of some form backed by some degree of actionable study benchmarking is deep and fruitful fodder for discussing solutions to the West/Pike planning malaise. And we're talking about it at-length accordingly. But because that's very present-tense troubleshooting, you very much need to talk up solutions vetted with close empirical evidence enough to help the planners regain their vision. "Studies suck, and you bore me for citing studies...so I'm just going to Wiki a history lesson and/or pull something borrowed/blue out of my ass and chastize the rest of you lot for your inferior creativity" isn't doing that.

It's bullshitting for bullshitting's sake.

That was the essence of what I was saying in the post -- of course there can be much more to study and ruminate over such as tunnels and underground stations -- but the non-rail GJ BRT is startable in less time than it will take to finish the GLX
No, it wasn't the essence of anything you said. Because you repackaged the exact amount of tunneling from a study alignment to a non-study alignment and skipped over the entire how/how-much/when logistics of how we were going to get actionable feasibility benchmarks from one place to another. No attempt was made to quantify the challenges of applying tunneling to that particular segment across the river, and your whole premise starts out by rejecting the veracity of any official studying, even on the copypasta'd segment you lifted. All you're doing is acting out that you find it terribly boring when other people discuss this, and refuse to focus enough on what is being discussed in the thread to answer most of your own questions. But also at the same time thinking it sounds cooler quasi-regurgitated out of your own mouth.

That's bullshitting. Poorly, as it were.

The rest of your post was mostly ad hominum attacks -- the subsequent post by another was entirely devoid of content
You'll excuse me for not being all that forgiving about this same pattern of behavior you're singularly notorious for resurfacing again after a year-plus hiatus from the board. It wasn't forgotten how much of a distraction this used to be. That a half-dozen threads in the same evening had to be rubbernecked around exactly like the bad old days (the sarcastic use of the "Like" button capturing others' rolleye sentiments accordingly) frankly is all the evidence necessary that the onus isn't on anyone else to be in a second-chances giving mood just because there was a long absentee layoff between such threadbombing incidents.

And you'll also excuse me for pointing out that you're the last person on the face of the earth for whom keeping a scoreboard of ad hominem attacks is going to paint a favorable light. Dripping condescention to others is as much part-and-parcel with this schtick as the thread derails and contempt-for-discourse.
 
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It's a long outage, but won't run anywhere near the whole duration of the project because the touches in that area are a subset.

Nobody yet has a date range pinned for outages because of course the state is still fussing around with so many basic existential details about West and all the staging around the river, making that bit of scheduling impossible to refine at the moment. There's a bunch of old FCMB slides showing various ranges, but they're pretty well useless and/or dated quotes so long as we're still chasing moving targets on the overall plan.
 

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