I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

BostonTrainGuy

New member
Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
33
To do this right they need to take only four feet from the river. The river is very wide at this point. I think it has to be the answer since that will allow the best solution.
 

ccole

Active Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2016
Messages
105
Reaction score
558

With Pollack out of the picture, MassDOT has moved to at-grade with the path in the river, and it at least sounds like everyone's working together now.

I had wondered if the Readville layover was going to pull the Allston layover off the table, and it has.
I had a feeling Pollack was a lot of the reason for the continued resistance to this alternative, but it's still shocking to see how quickly consensus is building now that she's gone.
 

Stlin

Active Member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
194
Reaction score
172
To do this right they need to take only four feet from the river. The river is very wide at this point. I think it has to be the answer since that will allow the best solution.
I still don't particularly care for any river intrusion myself. I would, however, say that taking the 4ft from the roadways, or even convincing BU to give up another foot or two would be ideal.
 

mass88

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
2,099
Reaction score
92
To do this right they need to take only four feet from the river. The river is very wide at this point. I think it has to be the answer since that will allow the best solution.
It is the answer - no reason or need to take away from roadway when you can claim 4 feet of the river.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
I still don't particularly care for any river intrusion myself. I would, however, say that taking the 4ft from the roadways, or even convincing BU to give up another foot or two would be ideal.
Depends on *how* they treat the river. If it requires re-dredging new pilings to move the retaining wall a few feet out, that's going to touch the dirty-dirt on the riverbed. The river has a "clean" bill of health because the truly nasty accumulations of industrial runoff are below the top layer of silt, below the point where river currents or incidental touches by a crew oar are going to stir up the nasty stuff. But go below that topmost/last-25-years of layering and you've engaging tons (literally) of problematic pollution.

That's going to rack up a cost headwind for environmental mitigation, so it's wholly understandable why they'd be reluctant to do that. However, if they can winnow it down to the point where the path can "balcony" over the in-situ wall (or strengthened version of the in-situ wall worked on delicately enough), then the costs and EIS'ing are probably exponentially easier to swing. 4 feet gets *tantalizingly* close to that non-invasive sweet spot. 3 ft. better than 4, 2 feet better than 3, of course. But it's a target range you can potentially work with, and work well. Being able to partially-platform the path over the wall ends up way better for not touching the dirty dirt than anything which requires the wall to be outright moved.

4 feet is close enough that there's probably a non-invasive/non-expensive solution you can engineer within that.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
I had wondered if the Readville layover was going to pull the Allston layover off the table, and it has.
Further Comm Mag reading on that subject: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/tr...ds-with-earlier-statements-by-pollack-poftak/

The wordplay of calling the BP layover a "maintenance facility" always reeked to high heaven. Of all the potential southside sites for a Vehicle Maint Facility, Readville was hands-down the best location for that. VMF plant and Maintenance-of-Way bases don't have to be extreme-close to the CBD like layover storage, only sorta close and with multiple access points in case of emergency. Readville's a genuinely great location for VMF functions with co-equal access to the Fairmount, NEC, and Franklin mains for routing redundancy, lots of easy sound-abatement land to expand on next to the Neponset, and lower freight rates for passing new and/or repair car setoffs via CSX at the freight yard literally next door (cheaper to fetch from a yard setoff than pay handling fees to have Pan Am local job BO-1 directly switch Boston Engine Terminal while they're puttering in Somerville). The Beacon Park site would've been acreage-poor, a bit access-constrained by truck in the midst of all that ramp spaghetti, tethered to only 2 B&A tracks to South Station for some degree of ops fragility when triaging heavily disabled trains around, and probably more costly to run since the equipment setoffs are comparably harder to stage there with the lack of any adjacent freight schedules.

As a pure-layover site, Beacon Park was better than Readville by being closer to South Station...not as good as Widett because it was over-dependent on just 2 B&A tracks thru Downtown for deadheading sets to/from the terminal, but something worth reserving their easement for in case the politics of layover land usage became a total shitshow (which they of course did). It made some sense at the conceptual level for pure storage. But they opted not to hold all cards for even pure storage...unilaterally busting down the layover capacity (cut from 13 trainsets to 8) to make it less useful by half, and telegraphing all along that they were under enormous pressure from Harvard to zero-out the rest of the land. Then they started circulating those total garbage renders of West Station being inverted-placement from the layover, making everyone wonder how in the everloving hell that station was going to be of any walkup use to either side (but moreso BU) with it being so bunkered into the middle of such very car-centric street grid. And then the total dissonance about the not-useful-enough shrunken layover being repurposed as a WAY less-useful maint facility.

It began to resemble an argumentative ploy by Pollack/Poftak for reasons ???????. Clearly they saw some benefit in running that interference with People's Pike + other advocates for the 'Throat' cripple-fight. Though don't ask me to attempt to explain what the hell benefit they saw in running that VMF interference, because it makes no rational sense to anything and clearly the new regime immediately saw fit to pivot away from it. Probably a not-insignificant miscalculation on their part...or, Pollack was just too burnt out to fake pretending the game was anything other than "trollollollollol". The outside design study the T commissioned to craft a maint facility site plan was always gonna bullseye Readville for those functions, regardless of the still-undecided fortunes for the layover siting (still nobody's done deal given the ongoing farce at Widett). It's entirely possible that the goalposts-moving games on public display for the last year-plus were just the festering public signs that Pollack had completely lost the plot as a leader and needed quite badly to go. If that's what evidence the project postmortem uncovers, I'll totally believe it. She had absolutely turned into one of the chief impediments to progress, and it was starting to show across-board rather gruesomely...many places, not just here.


What I'd like to see coincident with whatever credence this VMF decision lends to un-sticking the 'Throat' politics is:
  • an immediately less self-alienating redesign of the West Station complex
  • ...that in turn forces a re-design of the very problematic new street grid surrounding it
Just zero-out the layover altogether. At only 8 trainsets in its currently much-reduced form, it flat-out ain't useful enough for what it does. It's over-expensive tokenism. Readville is still very distance-poor as layover (but as described is excellent as a VMF location), but the land is plentiful...straight to the banks of the Neponset if they displace the recycling center easement next door. It makes up for its layover ops demerits in sheer capacity and by being fully integrated (like Boston Engine Terminal up north) with its VMF component. And the T controls the land without pressure from extremely unreliable partners, which you can't say for Beacon Park. If the Widett developer+BDPA shitshow places the "Mommy, help" call to MassDOT they might still get the ideal-location day storage yard all the same. But Beacon Park would still need an 80%+ buildout of Readville for storage, so what's the point for its relative anti-usefulness. Readville can...with some sub-optimal ops concessions...handle the full job, and have better cost consolidation vs. splitting its functions with whatever layover tokenism they could've wrung out of BP.

There's no reason now not to acknowledge reality and proceed with zeroing-out the rest of the BP layover land. Doing so immediately re-drafts West Station's problematic self-alienating design, and probably de-isolates it enormously from the BU side. They still have shitloads of additional redesign work to do trying to debug that chunky, car-overcentric, very anti-useful looking street grid. De-inverting West's placement ups its potential toplines, and probably saves some considerable cost in the process because it'll have more land to use and no longer any need to cram its busways up on hilariously overdesigned decking stilts. But if the process of de-inverting West forces a re-look at that problematic and very afterthought-looking street grid, more power to 'em. Might be just the kick-in-pants the doctor ordered for addressing all the distress signals the developable slab was giving off on access and supportable density.

If this was truly the work of 1-2 obstinate trolls who'd overstayed their welcome...hooray. The air's already been cleansed somewhat by acknowledging what's long been obvious. The dominoes around West's access, the street grid, etc. then fall accordingly...all things I was generally way more big-picture concerned about than the 'Throat' solution hair-splitting du jour.
 
Last edited:

the wild rover

New member
Joined
Oct 27, 2013
Messages
5
Reaction score
2
This is probably the wrong thread but are they preprovisioning West Station for eventual green line station with UR?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
This is probably the wrong thread but are they preprovisioning West Station for eventual green line station with UR?
Don't need to do any advance provisioning. Right now they're planning an extra CR platform to enable shuttle service via the Grand Junction, with trajectory side-by-side to the Worcester mainline island platform. In the event of a mode conversion that side-by-side running just gets fenced off with pick-a-platform RR crossovers deleted, and the extra platform gets leveled down from a CR full-high to an LRT low. The station egresses would be largely unchanged under such a conversion. Consequently there's nothing really to pre-plan for because the trajectory for 2 tracks from the Grand Junction is fully RR-provisioned in any/all 'Throat' designs, and ports straight over to LRT if you change the mode.

The only thing they need to pre-provision here is a viable trans-Allston ROW through Harvard's new street grid around the station so the Ring line can take a turn north after exiting the West platforms. Given how undercooked the reference street grid is thus far, they've hardly gotten far enough along in planning to bake that in with any certainty yet.


EDIT: Even if the shuttle platform (which is kinda unnecessary traffic-wise) gets VE'd out because the Grand Junction isn't ready for shuttle duty at the time the station opens, the space for the extra platform and the stair/elevator spots on the upstairs mezzanine will be baked into the default station design to add later no matter what, so nothing to worry about if West plans get amended or downsized. It's only the street grid and holding Harvard to its stated promise of reserving a transit ROW through its property where pre-provisioning needs to be upheld with frequent-enough reminders to the planners. And we are nowhere near close to a final configuration there.
 
Last edited:

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
7,425
Reaction score
2,223
Oh wow didnt know Harvard had to leave room for a transit ROW through their propwrty from west station. Awesome!
 

BostonTrainGuy

New member
Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
59
Reaction score
33
Good thing Menino is long gone or the Readville expansion might just be a bit of a battle.

Also with the many proposals like the recent AmeriStarRail (https://ameristarrail.com) plan that envision through service on the Grand Junction, I think West Station could be a sensible alternative to going into North Station and reversing out. Seems like there are many ideas on new services that would use West Station and this is the time to plan for a more substantial station that can serve commuter rail, Urban Ring and some long distance services. The very thought that they plan to keep the Grand Junction as a double track connection is very promising for any future services.
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
671
Reaction score
103
Also with the many proposals like the recent AmeriStarRail (https://ameristarrail.com) plan that envision through service on the Grand Junction, I think West Station could be a sensible alternative to going into North Station and reversing out. Seems like there are many ideas on new services that would use West Station and this is the time to plan for a more substantial station that can serve commuter rail, Urban Ring and some long distance services. The very thought that they plan to keep the Grand Junction as a double track connection is very promising for any future services.
A good portion of the Junction is single track. There is room for the most part but you'd have to lay new track and move the existing one. It's a big project in and of itself to get it usable.

If they Green it, it won't be anything other than Green.
 

PT1987

New member
Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
It's really too bad that they couldn't somehow configure a direct connection from the Pike EB to Storrow Dr EB where you wouldn't have to go through any traffic lights or intersections. I think a lot of people would get off there and take Storrow to the Tobin Bridge, Everrett, Somerville, etc vs staying on the Pike and taking 93 NB. During a good part of the day, it takes 10-15 minutes just to get through the lights at the end of the Allston Off-ramp to get on to Storrow EB, which doesn't give you much of an incentive to get off the Pike to get to the above mentioned points.
 

Brattle Loop

New member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
18
Reaction score
48
It's really too bad that they couldn't somehow configure a direct connection from the Pike EB to Storrow Dr EB where you wouldn't have to go through any traffic lights or intersections. I think a lot of people would get off there and take Storrow to the Tobin Bridge, Everrett, Somerville, etc vs staying on the Pike and taking 93 NB. During a good part of the day, it takes 10-15 minutes just to get through the lights at the end of the Allston Off-ramp to get on to Storrow EB, which doesn't give you much of an incentive to get off the Pike to get to the above mentioned points.
I'd have figured they'd want that traffic to stay on the Pike and 93 North, given those are the largest-capacity pipes in the network.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
Oh wow didnt know Harvard had to leave room for a transit ROW through their propwrty from west station. Awesome!
So they claim. Given that Harvard has been absentee to-date with all manner of planning, appears to just be engaging in a cynical 25+ year land-park, and hasn't shown its hand with *where* exactly that transit ROW is going to be...it's not a set-it-and-forget-it promise. They need to be dragged kicking and screaming on things like street grid design, lest we get stuck with things like that chunky mess currently placeholdered. I don't think it would be hard per se to make them keep their promise, but "make them" is the operative term given who we're dealing with.

The unfortunate downside of getting all debate stuck on the 'Throat' pissing match--a relatively land-unimportant segment--is that not many eyeballs these past couple years have been scrutinizing the afterthought street grid or West Station's extremely access-inefficient (at least before the yard/VMF were dropped) design. Believe me: we will live to regret the transit center, grid, and redev slabs being half-assed waaaaaaaaaaaay more than we will regret whether hairs were split non-optimally on the 'Throat' decision. We need to settle the 'Throat' so more people can start scrutinizing "How the @#$% is this new neighborhood supposed to work?!?", 'cause right now that's not real apparent from looking at the placeholder renders.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
I'd have figured they'd want that traffic to stay on the Pike and 93 North, given those are the largest-capacity pipes in the network.
Doubly so if we intend to tear down the Bowker, make well-timed Charlesgate signals handle the Fenway loading, and disappear some considerable induced demand traffic in the process. Expressway-free movements encourage more induced demand rather than tame it.

Besides, have a free-movement ramp onto Storrow EB sans any controlling lights inducing a "What am I doing here?" behavioral pause, and you'd probably triple the number of truck Storrowings almost overnight. As long as they're well-designed signal queue-dumps, I'd call the pauses a feature not a bug in this particular spot.
 

RandomWalk

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,130
Reaction score
518
If the desire line is to go from one highway to another, switching to local a local arterial is the exact wrong move.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
If the desire line is to go from one highway to another, switching to local a local arterial is the exact wrong move.
Discouraging people from thinking Storrow is "another highway" to speed between is exactly the point, and exactly where the induced demand ends up getting substantially reduced. That is, in essence, the "feature" over the "bug".

Stakeholders kinda made up their mind about the framing here long ago, so this isn't ripe for reopening a debate.
 

PT1987

New member
Joined
Jun 6, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
I guess I kind of consider Storrow already being a quasi-highway and was just thinking it wouldn't hurt to take several thousand cars a day off of the central artery which isn't exactly without its' own traffic headaches. Even disregarding any shift in traffic from the Pike, wouldn't it still make sense to speed up the interchange for traffic destined to points along Storrow that's going to take Storrow one way or the other? Those lights at Cambridge St are a huge bottleneck and having a direct connection would certainly alleviate some of that problem. I guess the down side is that it could end up pushing more through traffic onto Storrow as well.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,729
Reaction score
3,118
I guess I kind of consider Storrow already being a quasi-highway and was just thinking it wouldn't hurt to take several thousand cars a day off of the central artery which isn't exactly without its' own traffic headaches.
Yeah, opinions are always gonna vary. But this was beyond-thoroughly debated in the literally decades of public debate over rebooting the Allston exits, and whither direct onramps was a big part of that debate. The consensus that emerged was that the stakeholders wanted to pivot away from this being a highway-to-highway interchange, wanted to make it an exit to surface arterials for the essential-most access at the minimum-most induced demand potential, and wanted to tee up a future where things like the Bowker could be made more expendable instead of less by virtue of their leading decisions on the Pike exit.

I know the twists and turns of the 'Throat' saga have re-litigated a lot of the battles over final form, and has snowballed to some degree. But the question of whither free movements to Storrow is decidedly not one of areas they want to open back up to a whole new round of tortured debate. They decided too long ago what they wanted here, and this ain't it. It's acknowledged that individual opinions will vary, but the consensus was/is strong that the parkway needed de-emphasis, not re-emphasis.
 

Top