MBTA Construction Projects

sm89

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Walked by it this morning - the old tracks have been torn out, its been grubbed and they're actively regrading. Also snagged a new OL train view!

View attachment 3253
They appear to be laying new track here. I bike the path to Assembly and it looks like they've started at the north end and are moving southward. About 200ft+ done so far, no ballast though. Somewhat disappointing as I had hoped it was to be an extension of the path.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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They appear to be laying new track here. I bike the path to Assembly and it looks like they've started at the north end and are moving southward. About 200ft+ done so far, no ballast though. Somewhat disappointing as I had hoped it was to be an extension of the path.
No..all of that's badly needed by Pan Am for freight storage since they sold themselves straight into a jam cashing out their existing yard space for GLX land swaps. Typical PAR...jump the second someone waves a check in front of them, be utterly kerfuzzled 10 years later when it's time to fork over the goods and they shit the bed realizing they screwed themselves. No short-term memory, no long-term memory.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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FYI...laying of new Yard 21 track has reached Sullivan Station as they dumped a bunch of staging equipment up against the Orange Line inbound fence at the end of yesterday's shift. You can get a front-row seat for today's construction action right from the platform and street overpasses.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Franklin Line double-tracking Phase I is more-or-less complete, with second track now contiguous from Walpole Jct. to this new switch behind the east parking lot @ Norfolk. Compare the rate of progress in the pic with Street View from late-September.



Thanks to the mild winter, trucks have now started the grading work just west of the Norfolk platform for Phase 2 DT to Franklin.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Is Norfolk getting a 2nd platform?
Not yet. There's a "Norfolk Station Improvements Project" separately on-tap, but no schedule or info on what that entails as it's not direct-related to this DT project. DT Phases 1 & 2 are taking DT to the foot of the station in both directions, omitting the track thru the station. When they backfill the station later the two bookending interlockings they're installing now will just turn into leading/trailing crossovers with no additional signal touches required. We'll have to wait and see what gets unveiled for Norfolk Station plans; first community meeting isn't expected for several months.

They're getting a cut-rate price on materials, machinery, and labor front-loading this project while they're doing so much other track/signal work systemwide, so it pays to make haste while the getting's good and leave the more involved station work separate. This is also why they're pushing the two south-of-Walpole phases before the Norwood-Walpole Phase 3 that direct-solves some of the traffic conflicts plaguing the ongoing Foxboro trial. Phase 3 requires rebuilding Windsor Gardens station with a full design-build process, so they're slotting it last to allow more design time and budgeting. The first two phases are much less impactful for congestion, but they can be blitzed fast while unit costs are rock-bottom so they make it up in savings when it's time to do the stations.


Phase 1 DT probably won't go live until they're ready to switch on the new Franklin-wide cab signal + PTC install. Those new signal towers in the pic will probably stay dark for a few more months much like the new "CP6" crossovers in Allston on the Worcester Line that have been sitting finished but dark for a year now. They're still huffing and puffing on the back-end signal work for the end-of-year PTC deadline, so Phase 1 DT activation will probably get rolled up into the big changeover from old wayside block signals to new cab signals coming this summer to Readville-Forge Park.
 

anthtucker312

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Phase 3 requires rebuilding Windsor Gardens station with a full design-build process, so they're slotting it last to allow more design time and budgeting.
Although it would require a passing track due to the freight clearance route, is Windsor Gardens being rebuilt with full high-level platforms?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Although it would require a passing track due to the freight clearance route, is Windsor Gardens being rebuilt with full high-level platforms?
Don't know...they haven't revealed anything about prelim design yet. CSX is guaranteed the Framingham-Walpole-Readville Plate F high-and-wide route in perpetuity as part of the flurry of Beacon Park/Worcester Line/double-stack deals the state cut with them 12 years ago, so a complete passing solution is required. WG would not be hard at all to do with a gauntlet track, as it's on a perfectly tangent stretch of track with no grade crossings or undergrade bridges anywhere near. So I would bet on it being most likely a full-high job w/gauntlet.

It'll be interesting to see if they tease any new egress possibilities with the redesigned WG. The current 350+ ft. platform has to be lengthened to 800 ft., and of course there'll have to be new access on the opposite side. It would open up new patronage for the station if they were able to craft a new egress from the extended platforms via the Mylod St. athletic fields on the inbound side (either the fields north of the current platform by the middle school, or south of the current platform where Mylod turns towards Route 1A). That would offer access to a wider neighborhood catchment than the current entrance through the bunkered-in cul de sac at Windsor Gardens Commons by offering first-time access to the currently walled-off Washington St. side and making access from 1A far easier. Since Plimptonville is going away for good the second the DT goes active, they kind of need the easier access to Mylod St. from 1A to help absorb the catchment from the deleted flag stop. As is it's kind of shocking that WG consistently manages 600+ daily boardings with how physically hard it is to reach it from deep inside what's basically a gated residential community. That number could blow sky high if it had unified access to that whole corner of Norwood + first-time access to East Walpole, and gained basic-most dropoff amenities like a simple kiss-and-ride turnout off Mylod. No community meetings scheduled yet, so no advance guesses as to what their conceptual plan is.
 

Arlington

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FYI...laying of new Yard 21 track has reached Sullivan Station as they dumped a bunch of staging equipment up against the Orange Line inbound fence at the end of yesterday's shift. You can get a front-row seat for today's construction action right from the platform and street overpasses.
Photo looking north on Saturday:
Sullivan-looking-north.jpg
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Photo looking north on Saturday:
View attachment 3702
Apparently they got a stash of nearly free used concrete ties lifted from elsewhere to do this. Since Pan Am will never be arsed to lift a single finger on annual maintenance for however long they are forced to use these tracks before Urban Ring eventually evicts them again in some future decade, the T is giving them a "set it and forget it" quid pro quo that's basically self-fortified from neglect. Just need to hope the retaining wall got patched well enough that it doesn't start crumbling onto Track 2 again. That's what made PAR stop using this area between the inbound-Sullivan outskirts and Assembly end-of-track in the first place; they let it slowly topple over rather than spending 5 grand on cement patch when that would've still been good enough to hold it.
 

CyclistAlan

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Dunno. They're hard up for storage since "Yard 8" on the west side of the Innerbilt got mowed down to just one track (the distended loop-around BET from the Lowell Line) for carving out the GLX mainline. They're probably going to need the Yard 21 stubs for awhile. "Yard 8" was tiny; fixing the collapsing retaining wall so they can use all the space out to Assembly gives them more or less equivalent space (but less flexible switching between tracks). Everything's a TBD because they gave up their title to pretty much all yard claims in Somerville when they sold all their land for GLX. The tracks by Sullivan are less convenient to work around than what they had before, but they have no leverage anymore so they're just getting shoved in the nook/cranny that keeps them furthest out of the T's way.


Now, if you're thinking "What happens if the Urban Ring needs those tracks?"...there are the easy-reach offsets that get them out of town:
  • Carve out more yard space inside Everett Terminal by the gas tanks (ditto if the 2 storage tracks along the Eastern Route between Sweetser Circle and 2nd Ave. need to be taken for UR). Generous amount of space there. Would just need some quid pro quos with the private Terminal owners.
  • Rehabilitate Montvale Yard (T-owned). PAR uses the two tracks next to Tighe Warehouse in the Winchester Industrial Park for setoffs on the nightly overnight Winchester local to Tighe. There's another disused 1000 ft. x 2-3 tracks of yard space buried in the thick overgrowth running north of that warehouse in the Draper St. backlots, to about the edge of the cemetery. If PAR could be coaxed with carrot+stick to run on-time (which they rarely do) this is a midpoint pull-out where they can stage the Everett and Peabody jobs, getting them out of Somerville except on pauses between commuter slots.
  • Rehabilitate Winchester Running Track. Just south of Montvale there's a long third track siding on the Lowell Line, occasionally used to store T work equipment overflow. About 1400 ft., but cut off at its north end. If they reconnect the Cross St. end it'll double in length and act as a parking spot for staying out of the T's way. Or, they can lengthen to Cross St., replace the (kinda decrepit) Cross St. bridge with a tri-tracker, and extend that lead into Montvale Yard to give them about a mile's worth of layover track and the un-buried Montvale Yard tracks together for staging themselves on either side of Boston.
I'm guessing any of those or preferably all of the above would permanently satisfy all their needs, and let them triage their loads on either side of the Mystic so Somerville can just be a pausing spot. All are cheapies, and as mentioned PAR has bupkis for leverage after signing its life away so they'll play along wherever the MassDOT freight fun bux tell them to go. Of course if/when PAR gets bought out by somebody who gives half a shit about running on-schedule they won't have to can nearly as many loads overnight near Somerville to begin with because they'll get back to base out in 495-land in one shift. PAR doesn't truly need much space at all in Boston, except in terms of their infamous brand of "slop ops" that can't stay out of their own way.
More questions on the Yard 21 track re-building west of Sullivan: Has anyone any plans of the new track lay-out? Do they really need 2 tracks thru the entire length? How many cars do they store? Seems like a low use of urban land. Who do we think is paying for it? Did the MBTA have to let PanAm have these tracks or is MBTA just being nice? What would need to happen to get PanAm to leave? I also heard the the Lead 10 (?) track along side No. Washington St. will be use for both PanAm freight cars and Green Line Light Rail vehicles? I thought there were federal rules against mixing heavy and light rail? THX. Alan
 

ceo

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There's two tracks so the engine can pull the cars in, decouple and back out on the other track. Otherwise they'd have go down the southbound leg of the wye and then push the cars back up into the yard (which they can still do if they have too many cars for one track).
Green Line cars are definitely not going down the Yard 10 lead; no idea where you heard that from.
 

CyclistAlan

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There's two tracks so the engine can pull the cars in, decouple and back out on the other track. Otherwise they'd have go down the southbound leg of the wye and then push the cars back up into the yard (which they can still do if they have too many cars for one track).
Green Line cars are definitely not going down the Yard 10 lead; no idea where you heard that from.
Thank you for your quick response. So the having 2 tracks is more important for the engine manuvering than #car storage? Right now, I can't say who told me about Green Line movement (and maybe they were incorrect). If I find out more, or publically available info., I'll let you know.
 

Arlington

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Welcome, Alan! Glad to have you here with us!

As for the GLX-Yard 10, F-Line (and I) would say it is not worth inquiring. Anyone who told you the Green Line would mix with anything was just wrong, that's all. Transit vehicles can essentially-never* mix on the same rails** with railroad vehicles (freight or passenger).

*At Railfan Trivia Night the exceptions are considered standard fodder, and we'd know if the MBTA Subways were anywhere near having either FRA-Compliant LRVs (an entire round at Trivia Night), or being an FRA railroad, or enforcing a Temporal Separation (Time Sharing) with the railroad (NJ Transit River LINE) or other scheme that would allow transit and freight to mix. Nothing like that is part of any current Green Line Plans.

** Even when being shipped for delivery by rail, transit vehicles get loaded onto railroad flatcars rather than being shipped on their own wheels. Transit vehicles are light weight (for efficiency) and not legally/physically rated for resisting (freight) railroad accidents.
 
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Andrew

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I feel like green line-style service along Grand Junction to Sullivan would be a great use of that space if they ever stopped being used for freight. Would obviously take work to reconfigure the tracks to separate them from the main rail network but that sounds a lot more practical than running trains to North Station.

But that's thoroughly in the realm of fantasy transit pitches which have their own thread.
 

shmessy

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Construction continues at Ruggles, still causing minor bus chaos over there:


Great pics, thanks HBH! Would be nice to see some WORKING the construction. I know it's probably due to time of day, but is there anyone actually making headway there, or is it just going to be an obstacle course for many months?
 

DAVE

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Great pics, thanks HBH! Would be nice to see some WORKING the construction. I know it's probably due to time of day, but is there anyone actually making headway there, or is it just going to be an obstacle course for many months?
I'm here everyday, and its a little of both. Its definitely felt like this has been going on for years with no progress, and I often don't see any work being done on the elevator specifically on the huntington side. The lower bus area has also felt very slow going and disorganized. Like they'll start one part, leave it and start another part and so on. I do see workers all the time but just feels like they're taking their time on it.
 

shmessy

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I'm here everyday, and its a little of both. Its definitely felt like this has been going on for years with no progress, and I often don't see any work being done on the elevator specifically on the huntington side. The lower bus area has also felt very slow going and disorganized. Like they'll start one part, leave it and start another part and so on. I do see workers all the time but just feels like they're taking their time on it.
Thanks, Dave. I wish they would just get on with it. Human Progress. This is a key transpo spot in what is rapidly becoming one of the best growth areas of Boston with Northeastern developing this corridor.

To paraphrase Belcihick 'Just Do You Job!!!!!'
 

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