I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

Stlin

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I know this is a somewhat unpopular within the transpo space, but I am actively opposed to any at grade solution that requires additional fill of the Charles.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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I know this is a somewhat unpopular within the transpo space, but I am actively opposed to any at grade solution that requires additional fill of the Charles.
This stance, by itself, is somewhat hypocritical given that the Charles River Basin is pretty much entirely man made. But if we are only talking about a small section a dozen feet wide I don't see why some kind of viaduct above the rivers edge wouldn't work.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Well then someone needs to stuff Tim Murray back into the gym locker he escaped from in high school. Guy was still writing op-eds about it within the past few weeks. In lieu of providing a link or of actually having to read the whole thing, I'll just paraphrase what I imagine it said: "Connect our life sciences workers in Kendall Square directly with the WooSox games, and fully unlock the potential of the state's economy."
Which is ironic given that Timmy running his big fat mouth about imminent WOR-NS service starts bypassing any local input is what angried up Cambridge and MIT into getting that plan shelved when he was still occupying an elected position where he could influence the proceedings. And it wasn't turfed because of "opposition"-opposition, but simply because the idiot committed the most basal Masshole political faux-pax of all by throwing shade at the local pols you have to work with to get anything done.


He's that level of intrepid leadership mind who would pass out "Super Genius" business cards on a street corner with Wile E. Coyote's name crossed out in crayon. I don't even think he has half as much pull in Worcester as he imagines he does, let alone anyone in the Hub who'll still return his phone calls.
 

Stlin

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This stance, by itself, is somewhat hypocritical given that the Charles River Basin is pretty much entirely man made. But if we are only talking about a small section a dozen feet wide I don't see why some kind of viaduct above the rivers edge wouldn't work.
Yes, it's manmade, but I don't consider that an excuse to continue to further encroach in the modern era. Sure, we're never going to have a tidal estuary here again, but we should work with what we've got. We're long past being ok with filling in wetlands to create Back Bay (or at all generally), or damming rivers. While I don't think the Charles River dam is going anywhere, times have changed, and we should bloody well preserve what we've got. It may not be the same ecology as the historical tidal marsh, but it is an ecology all the same, and one that is thriving, and only recently relatively clean and safe. I would be immensely disappointed to see any of that be given over to concrete and highways.

Frankly, if you stand by the stance "it's all manmade anyways, what is a bit of fill going to do to it," I'd invite you to consider the Los Angeles Rivers, which I consider to be the most extreme, ergarious and misguided end result of manipulating natural waterways. While it's a different world and time, and I don't think anything like this will happen to the Charles, I do think it serves as a cautionary tale. Sure, flood control was necessary. But was the solution really a concrete channel of fixed width, instead of simply manicuring and naturally stabilizing the course, or even just building around the flood plains? A smooth concrete channel, with no natural roughness, or friction, and only 2 small natural bottomed segments providing any sort of ecological habitat? In the 1930s and 40s, we didn't care, and now what once was a natural river now resembles nothing more than an overgrown storm drain. While it is a "symbol" of LA, it hardly is a center for recreation, civic life is almost explicitly oriented away from it. (An ecological restoration project is underway) The Charles River dam was only built 30 years prior. We in Boston are lucky that we were guided by Olmsted and his naturalist design philosophy, which made something built look natural. But today, even this single dam would be seen as unthinkable. In the 21st century, an era where dams are being demolished to restore waterway ecologies and once covered rivers are being daylit, I think the only responsible thing you can do is to not take anything that can never be restored.

That said, I'm far less opposed to the ABC alternatives, especially Alt 2 which cantilevers the path out over the edge/over SFR. Even the all at grade, by exploiting "flexibilities" they appear to impact the river edge far less than the MassDOT proposals, as well as enumerate specific tools to enhance that edge. They are also far more innovative and bold in creating what look like engaging and exciting public spaces to enjoy the river.
 
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shmessy

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Well then someone needs to stuff Tim Murray back into the gym locker he escaped from in high school.......
As a Pats fan and longtime devoted Ernie Adams admirer, I just found it kinda funny that someone with this poster name wrote the above :giggle:
 

BostonTrainGuy

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Even if it's feasible to build an operable railroad radius at this location, a N-S connector route along this alignment would bypass all three major rail stations: North, South and (the proposed) West. Also, the NE Corridor line coming up through the South End would not be able to bang a left turn at the Back Bay Station to get to the Grand Junction RR.
Not thinking of primarily using it for an Amtrak NEC train just passing through Boston. It could be used for all or some connecting Amtrak Downeaster service from South Station to the north (Maine Red Sox fans rejoice). Commuter trains from the south into South Station could then reverse and go to North Station and then north or directly north on any northside line. Obviously a North Station to South Station shuttle could be run via the Grand Junction stopping at Kendall. This just offers some operational flexibility until the NS Link happens. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
 

Wash

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The real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is offering that same north-south connection with a transit mode that can actually service the neighborhoods the Grand Junction runs through, and is flexible enough to not require a zillion at-grade crossings that have to be negotiated at five miles an hour.

You're absolutely right that our region needs North-South connectivity. That's why we need to bite the bullet and build NSRL.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Not thinking of primarily using it for an Amtrak NEC train just passing through Boston. It could be used for all or some connecting Amtrak Downeaster service from South Station to the north (Maine Red Sox fans rejoice). Commuter trains from the south into South Station could then reverse and go to North Station and then north or directly north on any northside line. Obviously a North Station to South Station shuttle could be run via the Grand Junction stopping at Kendall. This just offers some operational flexibility until the NS Link happens. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
No it's not. The angle you'd have to wye from the Comm Ave. underpass is currently physically impossible. To rearrange enough infrastructure to make it *physically* possible would cost a kajillion...probably also requiring total nuke/realign/rebuild of the Charles bridge underneath constraints of BU Bridge...to net a minimally operable 10 MPH curve. 10 MPH...how ops-flexible is that??? The overloaded subway will beat that Kendall trip every time.

Second, it is yet to be proven by study that the GJ can sustain 15 min. bi-directional SHUTTLE service between West-NS because of the extreme-slow speeds and mashup into Northside terminal district. It is already impossible to layer multiple service patterns of any kind on the line; *one* pattern sends it to 100% or greater capacity.

N-S operational flex is already precluded by ^those^ immovable constraints. You can't fashion a pitch involving the Grand Junction that serves even 0.001% of that purpose for the Purple Line mode. Begging this question is not just begging the physically impossible, but begging what is so objectionable about the Urban Ring as for-real proposed that we have to resort to God-mode Impossible Pitches.
 

jklo

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The real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is offering that same north-south connection with a transit mode that can actually service the neighborhoods the Grand Junction runs through, and is flexible enough to not require a zillion at-grade crossings that have to be negotiated at five miles an hour.

You're absolutely right that our region needs North-South connectivity. That's why we need to bite the bullet and build NSRL.
The best you are going to get out of Grand Junction is to shuttle West Station residents (and possibly Worcester Line riders) to Kendall. Possibly also give North Station a one seat ride to Kendall.
 

ccole

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I listened to the FMCB update of this project yesterday and just sat through the public meeting this evening. From what I can gather based on the tone of the information, they're much more eager for the modified viaduct plan than the modified all-at-grade or the SFR hybrid. I did hope that the number of entities coming together (ABC, City of Boston, Harvard, BU) would have more of an impact on the modified all-at-grade but I didn't see much enthusiasm from the project team. I will say that the public who attended the meeting seems to be largely in favor of an all-at-grade design and most also wanted to see the number of lanes reduced - either by transferring SFR to I-90 or by permanently making I-90 six lanes (both of which could remove the need to put PDW in the river in the all-at-grade alternative). Seems a little crazy to think that with the state's plans for bolstering public transportation in the region and this specific area, along with plans to reduce vehicular traffic, that we'll need eight lanes for I-90 here when this project is complete in 8-10 years. People will change their behavior when the project is under construction, so why not jump on that and make road reductions permanent for a truly transformational project that has much better benefits for the environment and the public realm.

It was reiterated a number of times tonight to submit your comments since they'll be taking all public comments into consideration before announcing the preferred alternative in early/mid-November. The deadline for public comments is October 30th and they can be sent to I-90Allston@dot.state.ma.us.
 

RandomWalk

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Doesn’t the all surface approach force the T build a maintenance facility on the south side? Is this a case where the highway project needs to price that facility in?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Doesn’t the all surface approach force the T build a maintenance facility on the south side? Is this a case where the highway project needs to price that facility in?
No. T's already got lifetime irrevocable trackage rights over the Worcester-Ayer contingency route for all north-south equipment swaps. In any scenario the Grand Junction is backed up by the scenic route during a construction outage and they just have to lump accordingly in fewer but much longer swap trains for the duration of the local outage to limit the ops cost drain from running much longer-distance. Southside shop construction on the Readville slab only get triggered by introduction of EMU's and overall equipment hungriness of RUR service levels. That's all Rail Vision big-picture decision-making.

MassDOT does have an M.O.U. with Pan Am (transferrable to PAR's successors) to outright purchase the Worcester Branch under state control with pre-agreed sale price. Tape-delayed until a cash wad can get thrown at it for some future MassDOT board vote (no doubt to-be-scheduled once we get the show on the road with a final 'throat' option and can fully ballpark what Grand Junction-impacting construction staging has to take place for how long). When that happens you'll certainly see some freight fun bux appropriated at the line's generally horrible conditions for wholesale rehab and something a bit better than ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ derailment-prone 10 MPH. Primarily for freight ROI as the route is used by both PAR and CSX (who really, really bristles at their landlord's pathetic maint practices), but the timing fits like a glove if the GJ has to go out-of-service a few years for Pike construction. It's currently a 5-hour round-trip NS-to-SS for a T detour, a bit more than half of that time wasted creaking along the 28 miles of agonizingly slow branch. Speed increase to even Class 2 (25 MPH freight/30 MPH passenger)...the "give a shit" maint baseline for any halfway rent-paying freight corridor...slashes 100 minutes off that trip instantaneously. Cost isn't enormous...couple-dozen $M that amortizes quickly from the daily CSX/PAR Albany-Portland joint venture running hours faster and generating some more enthusiasm from the CSX behemoth to grow it with their chagrin over PAR slop-ops satiated. Also a high-profile target for fed grants because of the very high freight ROI. Watch the state pounce ASAP on that package because of the opportune all-around timing.
 
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a_tortoise

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The at-grade option for the throat would be so much better if someone could convince BU to build an air-rights park over the Pike and Storrow Drive between Agannis Way and Buick Street. The park could connect seamlessly from the Charles River to the Comm Ave Level of the existing dormitories, and it could provide a quadrangle for the BU West Campus which does not currently exist and is desperately needed given the density of students in the area. While I understand that the at-grade throat option may reduce maintenance costs over the long run, it is aesthetically and urbanistically a mess. We will be getting our own version of the I-94 Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago if the design does not accommodate the possibility of covering it in the future with green space.
 

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BeyondRevenue

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The at-grade option for the throat would be so much better if someone could convince BU to build an air-rights park over the Pike and Storrow Drive between Agannis Way and Buick Street. The park could connect seamlessly from the Charles River to the Comm Ave Level of the existing dormitories, and it could provide a quadrangle for the BU West Campus which does not currently exist and is desperately needed given the density of students in the area. While I understand that the at-grade throat option may reduce maintenance costs over the long run, it is aesthetically and urbanistically a mess. We will be getting our own version of the I-94 Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago if the design does not accommodate the possibility of covering it in the future with green space.
Yes! The Commonwealth takes a strip of crappy land and helps BU get something awesome. Win-win.
 

JeffDowntown

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The at-grade option for the throat would be so much better if someone could convince BU to build an air-rights park over the Pike and Storrow Drive between Agannis Way and Buick Street. The park could connect seamlessly from the Charles River to the Comm Ave Level of the existing dormitories, and it could provide a quadrangle for the BU West Campus which does not currently exist and is desperately needed given the density of students in the area. While I understand that the at-grade throat option may reduce maintenance costs over the long run, it is aesthetically and urbanistically a mess. We will be getting our own version of the I-94 Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago if the design does not accommodate the possibility of covering it in the future with green space.
This sounds good in theory. Is it possible in practice, given the elevations involved? (I don't know, but I would be concerned about the height clearances required for the rail allowing for electrification, and the need for the Grand Junction alignment to cross both roadways.) Also what happens at the river's edge -- you go from roadway height clearance above Storrow to river grade in a very short distance.
 

a_tortoise

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I think that there is approximately a 28' to 30' grade change between the plaza that faces Comm Ave and the parking lot below it shown in the attached photo, and the grade continues to drop between there and the river, so I expect that there would be enough clearance. There are many examples of constructed ground which are similar in concept to this idea; a few examples are the Penn's Landing Project over I-95 in Philadelphia, the Brooklyn bridge Park at the BQE, or the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.


 

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HenryAlan

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I think that there is approximately a 28' to 30' grade change between the plaza that faces Comm Ave and the parking lot below it shown in the attached photo, and the grade continues to drop between there and the river, so I expect that there would be enough clearance. There are many examples of constructed ground which are similar in concept to this idea; a few examples are the Penn's Landing Project over I-95 in Philadelphia, the Brooklyn bridge Park at the BQE, or the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.
Yeah, but the difference is that the parking lot behind Agannis is at grade, so they won't be able to step down to that level until after it bridges the Pike/Storrow. And then the problem becomes that it's 30 feet above grade and only about 12-15 feet of space to drop down to the water. I think a plaza above the Pike could work, but I don't think it could integrate well with the river path itself.
 

Charlie_mta

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The pathway will be on a bridge out in the river with the at-grade option, so with a lid over the roads and rail, it might be possible to ramp the pathway up (at ADL allowable grades) to meet the ends of the deck, thus eliminating a portion of the pathway bridge on the river.
 

cden4

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My ultimate goal over the long term would be to eliminate Soldiers Field Rd and deck over the turnpike. For decking over the turnpike, it could be a lot like the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in NYC where it's open on the river side. You should be able to build connections down to the Charles River Paths from it as well.
 
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stick n move

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The at-grade option for the throat would be so much better if someone could convince BU to build an air-rights park over the Pike and Storrow Drive between Agannis Way and Buick Street. The park could connect seamlessly from the Charles River to the Comm Ave Level of the existing dormitories, and it could provide a quadrangle for the BU West Campus which does not currently exist and is desperately needed given the density of students in the area. While I understand that the at-grade throat option may reduce maintenance costs over the long run, it is aesthetically and urbanistically a mess. We will be getting our own version of the I-94 Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago if the design does not accommodate the possibility of covering it in the future with green space.
Not anywhere near as bad
 

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