If You Were God... Transit & Infrastructure Sandbox

jbray

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Build a 267 mph maglev train system from Portland ME to Atlanta GA, stopping in Boston, Providence, NYC, Newark, Philly, Wilmington, Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Ralegh Durham and Charlotte.

Could include future extension to Miami with a Florida maglev network.

Include some passing tracks for non stop options. Averaging 240mph you could get to DC from Boston in around 2 hours.
You're just gonna burn CT like that? Yeah, that's why I left too.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Everyone dunks on Connecticut. It's the shame we are born with as Nutmeggers and Nutmegger-expats.:cry:
 

Stlin

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I'd re-wire Elon Musk's brain to stop pushing junk science in the name of transit attention-whoring.


It's a God move because we know he's not going to stop on his own volition.
I mean... if it actually, one day, gets us cheap tunnel construction, MOAR TUNNEL routes might actually become feasible. Annoyingly, he does have a track record of eventually making things "that'll never work, its impossible..." actually work. Ref: SpaceX Landings, Tesla. If Boring Co. actually gets tunneling prices to go down significantly, that might actually be a game changer in transit. If Moar tunnel is an option, then I'd god mode ask for:

1) greening the silver line, with dedicated under harbour tunnels and crossplatform transfers to Massports proposed people mover.
2) GLX2 the union square branch down the old Watertown Branch, via porter as previously proposed, but: fork beside the mall for an outer ring; moar tunnel under the Charles and through Brighton and Brookline via Chestnut Hill Ave, Cleavland Circle and Reservoir (imho, these should really just be a single big dot on the map), and surface around either Arborway or Cummings, then street reservation run until it joins the AMHSL. As this is god mode, there shall be enough room to continue to do LRT rail w/ trail alongside Alewife Brook and Mystic through Medford, then Rt60 through Malden Center until you get to Beachmont. Or you know, just Moar Tunnel the whole thing and make it pretty.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I mean... if it actually, one day, gets us cheap tunnel construction, MOAR TUNNEL routes might actually become feasible. Annoyingly, he does have a track record of eventually making things "that'll never work, its impossible..." actually work. Ref: SpaceX Landings, Tesla. If Boring Co. actually gets tunneling prices to go down significantly, that might actually be a game changer in transit. If Moar tunnel is an option, then I'd god mode ask for:

1) greening the silver line, with dedicated under harbour tunnels and crossplatform transfers to Massports proposed people mover.
2) GLX2 the union square branch down the old Watertown Branch, via porter as previously proposed, but: fork beside the mall for an outer ring; moar tunnel under the Charles and through Brighton and Brookline via Chestnut Hill Ave, Cleavland Circle and Reservoir (imho, these should really just be a single big dot on the map), and surface around either Arborway or Cummings, then street reservation run until it joins the AMHSL. As this is god mode, there shall be enough room to continue to do LRT rail w/ trail alongside Alewife Brook and Mystic through Medford, then Rt60 through Malden Center until you get to Beachmont. Or you know, just Moar Tunnel the whole thing and make it pretty.
That's making a big leap of faith. The engineering trade press has been as savage and unrelenting at poking holes in the Boring Co. hype machine as the transpo intelligencia has been at debunking Hyperloop's magic pixie dust. It's been deconstructed as--at best--snake oil salesmanship bereft of any material or technical innovations in actual tunneling technique that would in any way lower real-world costs...and at-worst a pyramid scheme for robbing local governments blind while sticking them with the inevitable cost overruns that any reasoned listen to an engineering expert would've told them was inevitable. They have one secondhand TBM acquired from an ex- water tunnel project. All their work to-date has been predicated on that singular TBM machine for that (barely) sedan-width dimension applied overly broadly to hyperloop pods with pod-per-hour magical math waving away the elephant-in-room capacity problems, and car tunnels up-front assumptions of imminently ready-for-prime-time self-driving tech magic-math'ing the extremely low endemic throughput of that dimension. No cost scaling has been applied to different TBM dimensions. No real-world permitting or EIS'ing costs have been factored, because it's all based on their idealized test bores which were fast-tracked as purely research subjects under completely alien category of permitting. Their test bores have all been in absolute idealized soil of totally uniform properties, at shallow-enough depths that in majority of reference scenarios under any built-up urban/suburban infrastructure would require massive up-front outlays in utility relocations. And any outside observers to the completed bore to-date have only seen it on supervised Boring Co. rides under heavy scrutiny with NDA's pre-signed. But it's being sold as 'disruptive innovation' packaging as if its very "Boring-ness" -of-brand sidesteps those hurdles and carries over the very fundamentally different conditions of the test bores. There is almost literally no way their proposal for a public transit-alternative (GOOD existing public transit, mind you) O'Hare Airport Connector will price out without an order-of-magnitude blowout because of the non-uniform ground under a utility- built-out legacy urban area. And almost literally no way it will provide functional travel times without the autonomous driving hype machine delivering in lockstep.

In essence, there's almost less than nothing to glean from Boring Co.'s work, because the attempt to innovate is so meager-to-nonexistent and so wholly dependent on other innovations yet to come within decades of delivery to provide the proof of usefulness. It's cynically been called a smokescreen for Tesla's autonomous-driving R&D being such a supposed hot mess that they're closer to needing to scrap it and start over from scratch than actually delivering on St. Elon's promises of self-driving Teslas going on-sale within 2 model years (always 18 months away it seems, no matter what the date-stamp on the source Tweet. . .). I don't pay nearly enough attention to Car World nerd porn to have formed any informed-or-uninformed opinion whatsoever on that story angle or what eight-dimensional-chess Musk is playing through social media this week. But even compared to Hyperloop, which is at least still an active area of improvements-upon vac train research (if wildly impractical and more limited than it's being oversold as), it's abundantly clear from available reading material that there's very little there-there with anything Boring Co. is doing. And it's pretty damn hard to attain a worse hype-to-results ratio than Hyperloop on-spec, but they're managing just that. Unfortunately the transpo blogosphere is practically interesting reading for the layperson compared to the more-boring-than-watching-paint-dry engineering trade press, so it's not like "TBM Monthly's" latest takedown is going to be read by an interested audience any wider than the Civil Engineering-degreed with career specialty for hole-digging and/or putting-things-in-dug-holes.


The cognitive dissonance with the Cult of Musk is that it's empirically true that it's already revolutionized the supply chaining for launch rockets and batteries...but that some other parts of the business holdings are such smoke-and-mirrors it's equally suspect whether he's a giant con man who's going to spend better part of an upcoming decade trying to fend off jail time for a fraud conviction. With a whole lot of the story being somewhere in between, since the holdings in question are so million-miles broad. And Tesla is this weird convergence of the extremes where it's a best-selling car lineup that arguably makes an overdue/necessary revolutionary challenge to the industry dealership racket...but rife with cognitive dissonance about the self-driving automation efforts being hyped as way closer than R&D reality and troubling reports of, frankly, pants-shitting scary Quality Control oversights (like the degree to which unpatched software bugs have nonzero potential to make the car do something unexpectedly lethal out of the human driver's control). Like...I almost think "Tesla The Auto Industry Disruptor" is just a flash-in-pan once the rest of the industry's battery suppliers catch up and one of the biggie auto makers pulls its head out of the 20th century on 'app store' online ordering in lieu of the dealer haggle. And that's in large part because born car makers run by born car folk know it's an inherently very bad thing to be letting software decide whether to override the manual pedals on whether the car moves or not. I predict Tesla will probably live out the better part of its post- Musk's hands-on involvement existence as a very richly-compensated battery supplier for a supply chain that scales way broader than just cars or home solar storage. Either that or when non-cultist businessfolk get in charge the business will be spun-off into components where the battery supply chain company is the moneymaker and the car company is a liability-constrained R&D plaything. Sort of like SpaceX is ultimately going to have to decide whether it's an Earth-launch rocket company or a space habitat company because the whole Mars Base capsule manifest-destiny thing doesn't fit neatly under the same roof as the "make shitloads of money launching re-usable boosters twice a week at a price point no one else can touch" business that past a certain threshold becomes way more evolutionary/playing-defense than revolutionary/playing-offense. The binding energy of the current Cult of Elon is the only thing that's keeping those biz-disparate interests under one roof. And there's an expiration date on that binding energy...sooner than later the more he keeps stepping in it on things waaaay out of his element like playing armchair COVID oracle.


But, yeah, anyway...Boring Co. is lukewarm garbage. I'd rather study the small subset of Northern European countries who seem to consistently be doing tunnel bores and bridges at a cut rate lately where the rest of the Eurozone is starting to lose its grip on cost control as model examples we can potentially import here. It's already proven that one-size-fits-all in perfect laboratory conditions with non-real permitting process doesn't tell us anything useful about the widely varied real-world conditions a prospective tunnel alignment has to encounter. Kick that plank out from under Boring and they've got nothing else with which to explain themselves...neither on cost scaling nor on any substantive technical aspects.
 
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Riverside

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Build a 267 mph maglev train system from Portland ME to Atlanta GA, stopping in Boston, Providence, NYC, Newark, Philly, Wilmington, Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Ralegh Durham and Charlotte.

Could include future extension to Miami with a Florida maglev network.

Include some passing tracks for non stop options. Averaging 240mph you could get to DC from Boston in around 2 hours.
Setting aside the mode question (maglev vs high speed rail), I like the concept, but question the stop spacing. Boston-DC is 2 hours is appealing, but what's really appealing to me is NYC (or Boston) to Atlanta in 5 hours. Especially as Atlanta is an airhub, something like that could really lead to mode shift.

To focus on long-distance service, I'd be thinking along these lines:
  • Portland, ME
  • Boston, MA
  • Hartford, CT [somewhere in central-ish Connecticut, maybe New Haven, depending on route]
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Washington, DC
  • Richmond, VA
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC (exact location depending on route]
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Atlanta, GA
Except for Charlotte-Atlanta, each of those stops is roughly 100 miles apart. Let's assume that a lower-tier conventional 125 mph HSR service exists in parallel to the new super-high-speed service. 100-mile-stop-spacing means that even in a "flythrough" city, you're still no more than 50-60 miles from a "hub" station, which at HSR speeds would mean ~30 minutes of travel, which would still keep your journey competitive with flying in many cases.

(Yes, all of this is highly dependent on favorable ROW and station locations, and well-timed schedules to support transfers.)

Bear in mind that, at 100-mile spacing, each of those stops is ~30 minutes apart on this hypothetical 240 mph SHSR service. I don't know nearly enough about acceleration rates and acceptable g-forces for high-speed rail, but I have to wonder whether 100 miles and 30 minutes would be enough time to even hit your max speed before having to slow down again.

Just for fun, let's condense those stops into a 200-mile, 1 hour cadence:
  • Boston, MA,
    • for Eastern and Northern New England
  • New York, NY,
    • for the Tri-States
  • Washington, DC,
    • for Northern and West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware
  • Raleigh/Durham, NC,
    • for North Carolina and Southern Virginia
  • Charlotte, NC,
    • for South Carolina
  • Atlanta, GA
    • for Georgia and destinations across the Southeast
The cadence breaks down a bit in North Carolina -- Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte are only 120 miles apart. But, otherwise, the spacing of major cities in the Eastern US is surprisingly consistent.

And again, with proper HSR feeding service, you would still be able to ensure that single-transfer journeys from "flythrough" cities would be competitive with flying. (In principle, anyway.)

EDIT: My memory plays tricks on me sometime -- I had a distinct memory of a BOS-ATL flight that took 4 hours. I guess it must have felt like 4 hours, because I just checked and BOS-ATL is only 2.5 hours. The usual caveats apply about not having to deal with security lines, taxiing on the runway, dealing with baggage, and not arriving in the CBD all apply. But. Still. Even at 200 mph, a five hour BOS-ATL train trip is definitely not the same beast as flying. I still think it would lead to a mode shift, especially to intermediate locations that don't have direct flight, but. Still.
 
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tysmith95

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I guess if I was God though, I'd make the hyperloop a real thing and tunnel boaring cost effective.
 

Arlington

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I have another* road-rail project: Wachusset to Gardiner direct (might anchor the "Turnpike 2" across the top of the State).

Good for all of:
PAS Freight
T CR terminal at Gardiner
Road traffic


* First was a combined road and rail between Hartford & Providence on the original I-84 alignment
 

WormtownNative

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I have another* road-rail project: Wachusset to Gardiner direct (might anchor the "Turnpike 2" across the top of the State).

Good for all of:
PAS Freight
T CR terminal at Gardiner
Road traffic


* First was a combined road and rail between Hartford & Providence on the original I-84 alignment
Wachusett to Gardiner might be a bit of a stretch considering they're 150 miles apart as the crow flies.

(Gardiner Maine, that is. Gardiner NY is slightly shorter at 130.)

But this is "If you were God" though, so anything is possible. ;)
 

Arlington

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Wachusett to Gardiner might be a bit of a stretch considering they're 150 miles apart as the crow flies.

(Gardiner Maine, that is. Gardiner NY is slightly shorter at 130.)

But this is "If you were God" though, so anything is possible. ;)
Wachusset to Gardner MA is all I meant to ask for (without the rail hairpin out to South Ashburnham and back). I want MOAR tunnel. (Probably could use a couple more on Pan Am Southern if going to NY)
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Un-pave the Gov. Dannel Malloy Memorial Busway, re-lay electrified RR tracks on it. Relocate all Hartford Line service over Belin Secondary + New Britain Secondary from Berlin to Newington, and keep only Amtrak and freight over the station-less 2-track Springfield Line after the diversion. Newington Jct. to Hartford Union quad-tracked. Interlining with Highland Line+Waterbury Branch circuit to Devon ups headways to :15 between HFD-NB. Hartford-Berlin local stop roster becomes:
  • Hartford Union
  • West Hartford (existing plans for mainline stop)
  • Newington Junction (existing/plans for mainline stop)
  • Central CT State Univ. (New Britain Secondary @ busway stop)
  • New Britain Union Station (moved to Price Rite parcel on wye connecting NB Secondary, Berlin Secondary, Highland Line to Waterbury)
  • Willow Brook Park (Berlin Secondary)
  • Berlin (existing)
This is what should've been done all along, because the Urban Rail frequencies would've approximated busway frequencies at greater capacity-per-headway and the feeder bus network could have more high local-frequency transfers at New Britain instead of being parsimonious at what's allowed to run-thru to Hartford on super-long/brittle schedules. It's not that the extant busway is a transit lemon by any means; miraculously it's tracking with the overinflated expectations. But then again...the Hartford Line is blowing out all expectation ceilings which indicates that Central CT was sorely underestimated on its ability/willingness to change its transit shares. Even the best possible outcome for the busway has a lower ceiling than an RER-like network chaining high-frequency local bus nodes. The state heard the hoofsteps of the coming RER advocacy revolution, pulled a "LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" at it regardless, and has now sold its ceiling short on the bus side while the rail side appears to have no limit. Still a bad call that's going to crimp them on network buildout.

Theoretically the busway is built with bridges weight-rated for later rail conversion. Senseless duplication of resources makes it a Crazy Transit Pitch, feasible but beyond projectable financial commitments. ConnDOT's financial picture over the next few decades...shit...that's what makes it a God move anywhere before 2050. Note that buried in the fine print Amtrak has a revokable easement on the Newington-Hartford busway segment no-questions-asked if it ever has to tri- or quad-track the Springfield Line for any reason (such as Midland HSR via Hartford), so state may not ultimately have a choice in the matter on the two-thirds of CT FasTrak mileage that's on shared ROW. The lede on that little booby-trap was *very* artfully buried by the Malloy Admin., so that'll be an interesting juxtaposition in value propositions to watch CT voters' heads explode over if they have to come face-to-face with an NEC FUTURE study do-over that casts serious attention at their preferred Midland alignment.
 

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