I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

bigpicture7

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The only way I could see LRT is if NSRL happens - don't they need to keep this rail available for moving commuter rail trains between the lines? DMU or EMU (hopefully the latter) would allow both rapid transit and train movement.
Oh that's right, FRA bans light rail and heavy rail from running on the same lines, right? GJ passenger service would basically have to be DMU/EMU until NSRL is built. But even so, wouldn't GJ still be needed for equipment ferrying, given that NSRL will likely have steep inclines and electric-only compatibility? This seems to suggest than any Grand Junction passenger use would need to be DMU or EMU, not light rail.
 

ceo

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Oh that's right, FRA bans light rail and heavy rail from running on the same lines, right? GJ passenger service would basically have to be DMU/EMU until NSRL is built. But even so, wouldn't GJ still be needed for equipment ferrying, given that NSRL will likely have steep inclines and electric-only compatibility? This seems to suggest than any Grand Junction passenger use would need to be DMU or EMU, not light rail.
F-Line has claimed that you can convert it to light rail even without NSRL once there's a full commuter rail maintenance facility on the south side (which I vaguely recall is under way), the greatly reduced number of transfers can then be done via Ayer. Certainly once NSRL is done and the system is fully/mostly electrified, there won't be much diesel equipment to transfer other than the occasional Downeaster loco.
 

Brattle Loop

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Oh that's right, FRA bans light rail and heavy rail from running on the same lines, right? GJ passenger service would basically have to be DMU/EMU until NSRL is built. But even so, wouldn't GJ still be needed for equipment ferrying, given that NSRL will likely have steep inclines and electric-only compatibility? This seems to suggest than any Grand Junction passenger use would need to be DMU or EMU, not light rail.
DMU/EMU on the GJ, in addition to lacking the flexibility of LRT connecting to branches of the existing Green Line on either end, is going to be forever-limited by the unremovable grade crossings. LRT does not require the same prioritization that RR does, and Cambridge isn't going to thank you for screwing up traffic to the extent you'd need to to have EMU frequencies even approaching LRT frequencies. Probably worth looking at as an interim service, but I don't think the plan should be EMU-forever.

F-Line has claimed that you can convert it to light rail even without NSRL once there's a full commuter rail maintenance facility on the south side (which I vaguely recall is under way), the greatly reduced number of transfers can then be done via Ayer. Certainly once NSRL is done and the system is fully/mostly electrified, there won't be much diesel equipment to transfer other than the occasional Downeaster loco.
The T's survived multiple periods in the last decade-plus of the Grand Junction being out of service for a while at a time, though it's been unpleasant. As I recall from F-Line's discussion they'd need a proper southside maintenance facility to reduce the need to swap equipment from daily to a couple of times a week, plus upgrades on the Worcester Main to make the long way take less than the eternity it does now. Ideally CSX will handle those upgrades for them if and when the Pan Am acquisition goes through (since it seems like it's mostly Pan Am's cheapness that's left the line to rot), and the T has trackage rights over the line that will survive the change in ownership.
 

Brattle Loop

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Second photo shows the massive expanse of asphalt 12 lanes of traffic right next to the Charles is. Storrow should be returned to parkland with the blue line under it.
I think the Blue Line, if extended down the river bank, would have long since peeled away from Storrow/Soldiers' Field Road by the time it reached the Pike, where this project is. That said, Storrow-reduction with Blue Line to Kenmore as a trade-in is still worthwhile as a project (just a topic for a different thread).
 

Tallguy

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Oh that's right, FRA bans light rail and heavy rail from running on the same lines, right? GJ passenger service would basically have to be DMU/EMU until NSRL is built. But even so, wouldn't GJ still be needed for equipment ferrying, given that NSRL will likely have steep inclines and electric-only compatibility? This seems to suggest than any Grand Junction passenger use would need to be DMU or EMU, not light rail.
You will never see FRA regulated service on the GJ. Too disruptive, way too disruptive for the amount of benefit. It's LRT or nothing.
 

jklo

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You will never see FRA regulated service on the GJ. Too disruptive, way too disruptive for the amount of benefit. It's LRT or nothing.
The targeted user is mainly the new West Station residents commuting to Kendall. For that it's perfectly fine. You don't need 4 minute headways, and you won't get that anyway with all the road crossings on any medium.
 

The EGE

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LRT, unlike FRA-regulated services, works fine with any grade crossings that can't be replaced by a duck-under or pop-over*. You just put a traffic signal at the crossing and have the cross street phase be the LRT line. Minimal disruption to traffic - the LRT phase can be the same length as the pedestrian phase at the nearest cross street, so it fits right into the signal progression. Mainline rail (ie FRA regulated) services preempt traffic lights, usually 45 to 60 seconds before the train actually gets to the crossing. That's what killed the 2012 study about diverting Worcester trains to North Station - even a handful of trains per hour causing 2-minute-long preempts is very disruptive.

* LRT can take 8% grades, which means you need only about 300 feet of ramp on either side. You could pop over Mass Ave, for example, without touching the MIT building over the tracks to the east. Mainline tops out at about 2%, which basically means you'd have to sink the whole line 25 feet into the Cambridgeport fill to eliminate any of the crossings.
 

stick n move

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Id like to see a green line extension that peels off the union sq line onto the grand junction line (f-line confirmed this is doable), continue down the grand junction, and end at west station for a transfer to commuter rail. This would give worcester line riders a 1 transfer ride to kendall, lechmere, north station, and through downtown. It would also give anybody on the green line a ride to kendall and west station in the opposite direction. Those are the major needs filled with a very simple at grade build.

I dont see the need for the extremely complicated situation of linking the B line to the grand junction line near BU. Just run a new stub of glx to west station at grade down the GJ and call it a day. It fills the biggest needs of linking the worcester line to kendall/north station from the west perfectly and it also links blue to Kendall through green. Plus it allows anyone who lives by a green station either a 1 seat ride or quick train change to kendall instead of a transfer. These are huge benefits for an easy build. Its not perfect, but our cram every train downtown first is an imperfect system.

quick sketch
46E3A603-F7CF-4FE1-990F-B443D55060B1.jpeg
 
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Digital_Islandboy

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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)



They aren't just rebuilding overpasses here, they're building a mile of new mainline freeway both at grade and on a replacement viaduct, in addition to many miles of new ramp and several new arterial alignments and intersections, all while the existing freeway and ramp system (which is decidedly in their way) continues to operate. 4 years seems reasonable for that.

As to the other ideas, ours tended to be more on the pie-in-the-sky side, but if davem wants to repost his map (his concept became the unified one for all of us) that would be wonderful. The general idea was that the conceptual designs proposed by MassDOT are lovely examples of good highway engineering, but cut the site up with high speed ramps and gave little attention to building a contiguous area for new development or connecting neighborhoods across roads. MassDOT also does not in any form address the awful intersection between Cambridge St. and Soldiers Field Road (yes, I know that's DCR's problem, but they should have been in the loop).

EDIT: http://www.archboston.org/community/showthread.php?t=4590&page=5

Bottom line: This interchange needs to be reduced in scope far more than MassDOT has proposed. Otherwise, you get something equally disruptive and ugly as what we have now, just with a DPW yard in the middle of it instead of a toll plaza.
LOL does it? The entire Mass Turnpike from Boston to New York State border was built within 3 years.
*
 

Brattle Loop

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Id like to see a green line extension that peels off the union sq line onto the grand junction line (f-line confirmed this is doable), continue down the grand junction to west station, then end at new balance with a transfer to commuter rail. It could end at west station if need be too. This would give worcester line riders a 1 transfer ride to kendall, lechmere, and through downtown. It would also give anybody on the green line a ride to west station.
At a glance, it doesn't really look like there's sufficient room to reach Boston Landing with a Grand Junction Green Line branch, though West Station does mean you wouldn't need it.

Now that you mention it, I'm a little unclear if F-Line's conception of Green Line over the GJ would serve West at all. Not doing so would make the Worcester-Kendall transfer a bit longer and more complicated.

I dont see the need for the extremely complicated switching situation on the B line to connect it to the grand junction line. Just run a new stub of glx to west station and call it a day, it fills the biggest need of worcester to kendall perfectly.
As I recall, one of F-Line's project requirements for Green Line over the GJ fed into the B-line was burying the B-line under its reservation from the portal near Kenmore out to the BU bridge area, to get rid of the crossings (and excessive stations, though they're finally doing surface stop consolidation which will help) that would screw up its ability to handle the Commonwealth and GJ traffic simultaneously. If you're already doing that digging, it's not all that much more in money or complexity to add in a flying junction a-la Boylston to throw one branch up to the surface to serve the B-Line and sending the other one out to eat the Grand Junction. It doesn't do anything specifically for Worcester traffic, but that's not the only market for what is essentially the NW quadrant of the Urban Ring. It would be worth studying the cost-benefit tradeoff of no-B-line versus tying it in.


LOL does it? The entire Mass Turnpike from Boston to New York State border was built within 3 years.
Well, no, it wasn't, 'cause the original section from the 50s only went as far as Weston. It didn't make it into Boston until the 60s. And it's not a fair comparison to make between building a brand-new roadway and rebuilding an extant, operating highway in a confined area around active railroad tracks.
 

bigpicture7

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LRT, unlike FRA-regulated services, works fine with any grade crossings that can't be replaced by a duck-under or pop-over*. You just put a traffic signal at the crossing and have the cross street phase be the LRT line. Minimal disruption to traffic - the LRT phase can be the same length as the pedestrian phase at the nearest cross street, so it fits right into the signal progression. Mainline rail (ie FRA regulated) services preempt traffic lights, usually 45 to 60 seconds before the train actually gets to the crossing. That's what killed the 2012 study about diverting Worcester trains to North Station - even a handful of trains per hour causing 2-minute-long preempts is very disruptive.

* LRT can take 8% grades, which means you need only about 300 feet of ramp on either side. You could pop over Mass Ave, for example, without touching the MIT building over the tracks to the east. Mainline tops out at about 2%, which basically means you'd have to sink the whole line 25 feet into the Cambridgeport fill to eliminate any of the crossings.
Thanks, but pardon my ignorance/under-informedness: I'd made my above comment assuming that the present-day equipment ferrying operations on the Grand Junction fall under FRA governance. I certainly appreciate the overall benefits of LRT here. Unless I'm still missing something, though, the heavy rail ferrying operations would need to be able to cease before LRT operations could begin.

Side Note: for those of us who frequently watch the GJ equipment ferrying, which (at least pre-pandemic), was several times a day...the heavy equipment grade crossings are, ummm, a bit non-traditional: train slows to a near-idle, guy jumps out into the middle of traffic to try to stop the cars, train huffs and puffs across the street, guy jumps back onboard and train speeds up again. Fascinating how they get away with that in fairly busy Cambridge traffic. I suppose the fact that the trains are going about 2 miles an hour make it reasonably safe. There are also non-gated signal bells, but the pedestrians with headphones can't hear those and, since there are no gates, cars try to sneak through, which I presume is a main reason why the guy jumps off to help usher the train through.
 
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jklo

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Side Note: for those of us who frequently watch the GJ equipment ferrying, which (at least pre-pandemic), was several times a day...the heavy equipment grade crossings are, ummm, a bit non-traditional: train slows to a near-idle, guy jumps out into the middle of traffic to try to stop the cars, train huffs and puffs across the street, guy jumps back onboard and train speeds up again. Fascinating how they get away with that in fairly busy Cambridge traffic. I suppose the fact that the trains are going about 2 miles an hour make it reasonably safe. There are also non-gated signal bells, but the pedestrians with headphones can't hear those and, since there are no gates, cars try to sneak through, which I presume is a main reason why the guy jumps off to help usher the train through.
They would obviously have to not do this if they are going to do passenger service, at least in the peak direction.
 

BeyondRevenue

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Side Note: for those of us who frequently watch the GJ equipment ferrying, which (at least pre-pandemic), was several times a day...the heavy equipment grade crossings are, ummm, a bit non-traditional: train slows to a near-idle, guy jumps out into the middle of traffic to try to stop the cars, train huffs and puffs across the street, guy jumps back onboard and train speeds up again. Fascinating how they get away with that in fairly busy Cambridge traffic. I suppose the fact that the trains are going about 2 miles an hour make it reasonably safe. There are also non-gated signal bells, but the pedestrians with headphones can't hear those and, since there are no gates, cars try to sneak through, which I presume is a main reason why the guy jumps off to help usher the train through.
I always have questions about the GJL. How big are these trains? How many cars? Carrying what? Servicing who? It seems strange that there is that much being delivered to an area full of houses... what's left? Is it some unspoken MIT/DoD nod and wink? Is there a secret factory I don't know about? It seems like light industrial/commercial clients at best, something that could be handled by trucks. PanAm seemed so shady and I can only guess. Perhaps CSX will shine some light (or an insider on this board can enlighten me).
 

bigpicture7

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I always have questions about the GJL. How big are these trains? How many cars? Carrying what? Servicing who? It seems strange that there is that much being delivered to an area full of houses... what's left? Is it some unspoken MIT/DoD nod and wink? Is there a secret factory I don't know about? It seems like light industrial/commercial clients at best, something that could be handled by trucks. PanAm seemed so shady and I can only guess. Perhaps CSX will shine some light (or an insider on this board can enlighten me).
I'm referring primarily to Amtrak and MBTA equipment and coaches (usually no more than 2 or 3 items of rollingstock at a time) being shuttled between maintenance facility and terminals. The primary MBTA maintenance facility is currently on the north station side of the track network and they use GJ to move rollingstock to the other side. I don't think there's anything covert or sketchy about that. Indeed, there is the occasional engine pulling weird-looking stuff through there, but not nearly as often as the basic commuter rail/Amtrak vehicles.
 

BeyondRevenue

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I'm referring primarily to Amtrak and MBTA equipment and coaches (usually no more than 2 or 3 items of rollingstock at a time) being shuttled between maintenance facility and terminals. The primary MBTA maintenance facility is currently on the north station side of the track network and they use GJ to move rollingstock to the other side. I don't think there's anything covert or sketchy about that. Indeed, there is the occasional engine pulling weird-looking stuff through there, but not nearly as often as the basic commuter rail/Amtrak vehicles.
Thanks for the direct answer. I could deduce that this would already be a light rail extension under construction if not complete if we had the NSRL-RR we deserve.
I'm not sure which I despise more... the cheapness or the stupidity of the Commonwealth's transportation actions (or lack thereof). I moved here in 1995 and was stunned that the NSRL didn't exist already. Then I read up on the really idiotic original reasons. Then later, there were deliberate attacks from the automobile lobby, then the budget cutting frenzy post 70s. Finally, I thought NSRL would be part of the Big Dig... you know... like it was promised. Nope. Now I wonder if we have any vision at all or are covertly succumbing to silent fatalism. Saddening. It makes me lose faith in people and our institutions.

At least the plan for The Throat is encouraging.
 

ceo

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I used to work near the Broadway crossing, and originally they'd just crawl across at 10 mph, doing the long-long-short-long whistle. Very frequently you'd see cars run the crossing right in front of the engine (once saw one promptly get busted by a cop waiting at the light at the other side). At some point they evidently gave up, and started having someone hop out and flag the crossing.
 

Brattle Loop

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I always have questions about the GJL. How big are these trains? How many cars? Carrying what? Servicing who? It seems strange that there is that much being delivered to an area full of houses... what's left? Is it some unspoken MIT/DoD nod and wink? Is there a secret factory I don't know about? It seems like light industrial/commercial clients at best, something that could be handled by trucks. PanAm seemed so shady and I can only guess. Perhaps CSX will shine some light (or an insider on this board can enlighten me).
As far as I'm aware there are no freight customers on the GJ itself, and there hasn't been for some time. Until relatively recently CSX ran one freight train over the GJ most days, serving customers in Everett, but they outsourced that job to Pan Am back in 2018, and since then there has been no regular freight over the GJ. The only regular traffic is the MBTA's routine equipment swaps (the south side lacks a proper heavy maintenance facility so they have to keep rotating equipment up to BET) and Amtrak's occasional moves of equipment for the Downeaster. As others have said, nothing sinister, just that it's a bit unusual to have railroad equipment running through un-gated crossings with all that car and foot traffic around (though that's because there's not a sufficient number of train movements to justify installing gates).
 

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