MBTA Construction Projects

Stlin

New member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
72
Reaction score
46
It's not viable for day storage...too far out of town and only has access to the Lowell Line. All of that absolutely needs to stay in Somerville to keep the shifts moving, though if southside can secure Widett Circle, BTD Tow Lot, or any of those pieces it will be an enormous relief for BET to be able to get out from under having to support southside day storage. Because then not only does south have its storage needs fulfilled, but Readville Yard 2 (which itself is expandable out to the banks of the Neponset by evicting the recycling center on the easement next door) gains enough flex 8 miles out to be able to play host to new full-service southside EMU and coach heavy-repair shops. Which will be enough to trim BET's shop responsibilities for the south down to just the unified diesel locomotive shop. And possibly some native MOW south storage of its own on the expansion Readville land. That north v. south relief sequence is in turn extremely critical for being able to take the Grand Junction off the RR network for the Urban Ring at all...because the Worcester-Ayer backup route for equipment swaps is only viable if you can reduce the rate of swapping from 1-2 per day over today's GJ to maybe 2 per week through Worcester County. You can hit that cost-neutralizing target of trading much-reduced moves for longer distance if the only things you're swapping each week are Downeaster sets on AMTK rotation and strings of southside diesels going for shop work or 92-day FRA inspections...and don't have any coaches making the trip and no longer have to make so many trips solely for the sake of rebalancing equipment assignments.
So the MBTA just posted contract J19PS01 a couple of days ago, for engineering and consulting for a $161 million Southside maintenance facility. By the layover alternatives report from 2013, of the 3 advanced alternatives only the BTD tow lot and Readville 2 are still available, given MassDOT and the T have committed Beacon Park Yard to Allston multimodal / west station. Interestingly, so far as I can tell this isn't programmed into the 20-24 CIP. Contract excerpt below.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is soliciting engineering and consulting services and to provide advice, consultation, CMR procurement assistance, and design for the South Side Commuter Rail Maintenance and Layover Facility (SSMF). The Scope of Services may include, but is not limited to: Construction Manager at Risk (CM at Risk) Procurement and Design Phase Services 0%-30%. The conceptual level construction cost estimate for the proposed improvements is $161,000,000.00. The scope of services will be authorized on task basis by phase (when applicable). The duration of this contract will be three (3) years.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
So the MBTA just posted contract J19PS01 a couple of days ago, for engineering and consulting for a $161 million Southside maintenance facility. By the layover alternatives report from 2013, of the 3 advanced alternatives only the BTD tow lot and Readville 2 are still available, given MassDOT and the T have committed Beacon Park Yard to Allston multimodal / west station. Interestingly, so far as I can tell this isn't programmed into the 20-24 CIP. Contract excerpt below.
This mysteriously under-explained item does stake itself to explicit "Maintenance Facility" name-check, which is distinct from the "Storage" analysis that all the Beacon Park & Widett moving parts are staked to. Beacon Park post-shrinkage is now much too small to host any maint functions, as it only holds an inadequate 8 trainsets and doesn't satiate the long-term storage needs much at all. Widett's upper-bound 30 sets was predicated on ground-level only supporting later air rights overbuild, which precludes maint facility builds. And the layover analysis specced going full-speed-ahead at Readville expansion regardless of what happens with BP or Widett. That makes little sense on its face if Readville were the fallback for storage, because if they managed to get the 30 sets of storage down in Widett Readville would completely empty out all its day storage functions with exception of Fairmount + Stoughton end-of-line layover (which is no more than 4 or 5 total trainsets). Meaning that--at 8 miles from South Station--storage expansion of Yard 2 was only the very unsatisfying fallback against nothing whatsoever coming available downtown because of the ops clumsiness of having to make so many high-mileage deadhead moves to shift-change the Terminal District. With the shopping options still TBD downtown full-speed-ahead directive on Readville expansion there meant they were preferably envisioning something way different for the outskirts like shops siting.

And Readville is the spot-on ideal place for siting the primary EMU shop when we order that fleet, as well as absorbing most southside coach heavy repair so overloaded Boston Engine Terminal up north can get freed up for northside RUR service expansion (doubly important if the EMU buy option happens to be something like NJ Transit's Bombardier MLV EMU's, because of how coach assignments would get hybridized to either/or self-powered and push-pull fleets). That plus MOW storage to reduce the southside's reliance on overstuffed Alewife MOW Yard and out-of-district rentals for specialized track equipment, and for staging track materials closer to town at more consolidated facilities. The land usage out there is much more appropriate. To build maint facilities downtown you'd have to have facilities support for a couple hundred workers akin to Amtrak's Southampton Yard with its 2nd-story office space and employee lots along I-93 Frontage Rd. That's way more difficult in the Widett 'bowl', or Beacon Park with the yard nonsensically shivved into no-man's land between the BU and West Station street grids. And way poorer land usage when so much of the ground space needs to be trainset parking not employee lots and 2nd stories eat away at the Widett 'bowl's' redev value proposition of ground-level storage supporting contiguous air rights deck-over. Readville not only has the lower-cost acreage to support the employee and 2+ story building presence with its lower reliance on train storage density, but also the far better noise mitigation on the parts of the property away from immediate Wolcott Sq. (whereas the NIMBY riot and their enabling City Councilors would be shooting any maint building plans @ Widett or BP full of buckshot). And it's demographically advantageous to the neighborhood to site a new anchor employer there offering a few hundred jobs of high-skill labor. It's why NYNH&H sited its primary passenger shops in Yard 5 right at the corner of Sprague & W. Milton, as well as other big facilities like the paint/carbody shop in the long-gone yard on Sprague south of the Franklin tracks (where Amazon currently is). Wolcott Sq. first sprouted as a prototypical 1890's trolley suburb because of the job rush when those shops first opened. As stable well-paying craft labor it's an equally good fit to bring a slice of that back today to one of City's last distinctly middle-class housing neighborhoods.


So I suspect if the name-check in the blurb is 1:1 with the function they intend to construct, this is Readville Yard 2 all the way for starting to zone some maint locations and has little to do with the central locations. And that would be completely rational, since the RFI for EMU's is out and the RFP for large system-expansion coach quanties are out...and existence of those upcoming bids pregnantly begs the question of mandatory new places to service them. So the sensible thing to do is kick off Readville expansion with some MOW facilities they can use now and come up with a Site Master Plan for where (and when) the shops would go when it's time to break ground. In the meantime they can use the Master Planning to hedge on what parts of the site simply must be rationed for more storage if the central options fall through, and which parcels onsite can be traded out to building space with each purchase installment of new central storage relieving Readville of some of its worst-case contingencies.


As for the central sites...nothing's changed overall. The Food Market in the Widett 'bowl' still has itself up for sale if the City & state can can offer up a modernized relocation spot for them. That's predictably deadlocked by the complete anti-cooperation between City Hall, BDPA, and Massport (providers of the would-be relocation spot @ Marine Terminal) and NIMBY-troll Councilors like Flaherty who are fanning the flames of knee-jerk opposition. BTD tow lot was a more recent advertisement, but BDPA is similarly running that one into the ground with preemptive pitches for redev despite the all-around horrible site access blocked by the South Bay ramps. The cold storage warehouse private developers are still being uncooperative and very sore at all permits being rejected for their recycling center redev pitch of the warehouse (completely inappropriate land usage, so no surprise at the rejection). They're basically being crybabies threatening to gum up any legalities out of spite until someone eminent domains them. And Beacon Park's latest shrunken plan still asterisks itself that further trade-outs to Harvard are potentially under negotiation, so the pressure is on to zero it out and the "commitment" so-to-speak has never looked squishier than now. The absolutely nonsensical renders that place West Station behind the yard in total isolation to nearest humanity seem implicitly designed around a trajectory where the yard gets zeroed-out to more Harvard swapping and West re-packing. West is patently arbitrarily handicapped by the over-insulated access and somebody's going to make a move to "fix the glitch" sooner or later. Rather than having a correct placement of station hugging BU and yard on the other side, the inverted placement seems to be an overt self-fulfilling prophecy for painting a target on the shrunken yard's back for closing the artificial gap.

So all of that is still in the air. Other than BP definitively now shrunken to a not-very-useful 8 trainsets from its initial 14 everything else is still an open gamble. I would just expect that the alphabet-soup agencies involved and too-many-chefs gridlock at the politician level is going to continue the staring contest over these properties without action for another couple more years at least of "no news is no news" default condition. We know not to expect much when City Hall, BDPA, MassDOT, Massport, Harvard, and a bunch of local-yokel Councilors are the institutions we have to count on to make some alliance / any alliance around any form of actual action. It's already grinding Pike Realignment and West progress to a halt via the natural order of institutional gridlock. So given that that's the default Boston way of not-doing-business, I suppose it's fortunate that the T is playing the one card--Readville "Maintenance" design--that'll actually prerequisite-prepare it for EMU's and RUR rollout while they wait for something to break loose on the consequential storage debate. Because that new rolling stock has to be maintainable somewhere or else we can't proceed to buying it in the first place. It appears they're making the (most logical) first move of where that maintenance is going to ultimately be done.
 

Stlin

New member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
72
Reaction score
46
I agree that as far as siting goes for a maintnance facility, it doesn't get better than Readville; immediately proximate to the Fairmount and NEC, future soughton electric, plus the Franklin line, and an extant maintenance facility to build upon, rather than starting from scratch.

My only concern is operational, given its name includes layover. Any access to South Station from Readville would either have to make 2 reversing moves onto the NEC, or go via the Fairmount, which will likely be seeing a lot of traffic. Admittedly, this wouldn't be the worst thing in the world; any deadhead into SS or out could be scheduled as a "fairmount" trip, especially given that line is constantly asking for frequency.

I'd be curious though as to what the future brings for Readville station, though, as Providence/Stoughton trains don't stop here, and the Fairmount and Franklin lines are single platform. I'd think this is a great opportunity for an interchange hub in the future of 15 minute headways, given the number of crossing lines, especially if full build SCR comes to fruition. The only way it'd be even better is if Amtrak stopped here as well, though the lack of highway access and parking rather precludes that. It looks as if the catenary gantries here on the NEC were future proofed for 4 tracks too.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
I agree that as far as siting goes for a maintnance facility, it doesn't get better than Readville; immediately proximate to the Fairmount and NEC, future soughton electric, plus the Franklin line.

My only concern is operational, given its name includes layover. Any access to South Station from Readville would either have to make 2 reversing moves onto the NEC, or go via the Fairmount. Admittedly, this wouldn't be the worst thing in the world; any deadhead into SS or out could be scheduled as a "fairmount" trip, especially given that line is constantly asking for frequency.
Well, as mentioned Readville is the only sure-thing hold they have. So any Master Plan has to hedge on worst-case that if absolutely none of the central storage parcels (including incredible shrinking Beacon Park) pan out Yard 2 will have to backstop central storage at icky number of daily deadhead moves far greater than the already icky number it has to stage today pre-RUR. As long as plans are flexible and show the sequencing where provisioned day storage can be immediately flipped to MOW and shop use with each new parcel's worth secured in the CBD, then what they're doing now with this contract is the best forward planning money can buy. It's just hoped that the site plan has fluidity to shape-shift to less-storage/more-shop with how fluid this storage real estate situation is still going to be for the next couple years. Best-case if the Widett 'bowl' is available...Terminal District needs @ Readville get zeroed out entirely and everything becomes jump-ball for shop & MOW space except for a 4-track span between the Fairmount mainline and the current 'shed' inspection track for those Fairmount & Stoughton outer layovers. And of course Stoughton presence disappears if South Coast Rail Phase II perma-fix advances. And RUR interlining of Foxboro/Forge Park frequencies over Fairmount main probably means Readville short-turns get recast as situational backfill to round up variances in longer-haul headways to an even :15 and backstop any Dorchester stations Forge Park runs need to skip-stop for sake of tolerable end-to-end schedules. So Readville probably won't even be a 'full'-schedule Fairmount layover, but rather an on-demand staging area for micro-target Run As Directeds that only needs to store couple sets at any given time.

Under ideal conditions very little storage-storage of any kind needs to live out there, and it can become total "one-stop 'Shop'-ping". Depending on how slow-growth the building facilities are, the longstanding recycling center next door on the Neponset-facing easement doesn't necessarily have to get evicted outright either. It's only a sure & immediate goner if the fail-safe storage needs are greater, but can usefully malinger (or stay outright) at less overall site urgency with each new storage parcel gained in the CBD.

Best-case is still...
  1. MassDOT buys Widett 'bowl' from Food Market, nets 30 trainsets of ground-level storage. BDPA shuts piehole and NIMBY troll-persons like Councilor Flaherty get steamrolled.
  2. Massport relocates Food Market to modernized facilities, Boston gains a modicum of Hunts Point-like food warehousing presence and greater local controls over wholesale raw food prices.
  3. MassDOT cuts M.O.U. w/ City+BDPA on underwriting decking if they find a developer, "fixing the glitch" on Boston 2024's fatal undoing of shoving all the decking risk on an unwilling "Master Developer". Land trusteeship redone as permanent ground-level transpo easement w/property taxes for new dev amortizing state decking investment. Maybe if they're smart somebody even points at the decades of Pike air rights failures and creates a "Widett Redev Authority" akin to how South Station ownership made its own internal clearinghouse dept. 30 years ago for directing air rights matters. At least that eventually netted the new SS Tower after interminable wait, unlike the Pike parcels which have been 55 years and counting of neverending FAIL.
  4. Beacon Park Layover gets zeroed out as unnecessary (but we know that's already fated to happen via Harvard pressure WITHOUT any other storage parcels secured). Pike realignment + West get sane design re-packing.
  5. Other aux. parcels like cold storage and/or BTD tow fall in line. If not needed ASAP for train storage, gets used for bus storage expansion. NOTE: battery buses require higher up-front spare ratios for charging, so Albany/Cabot Garages *need sooner* the expansion space something like the BTD lot affords.
  6. If/when NSRL is built somewhat reducing (but not zeroing out) need for train storage in CBD, ground-level transpo easement remains in-full but gets reapportioned to more buses/fewer trains. Shape-shifting under the Widett deck becomes only surefire mechanism for offering up lucrative Albany Garage real estate for redev, and safely anticipating century-level changes in storage needs.
And we hope that the staring contest between short-attention span alphabet-soup institutions doesn't totally fuck this up. It's improbable that all of the central parcels will end up falling by the wayside, because as simple fact nobody besides MassDOT is able to make the highest-leverage offers securing the most fail-safe redev mechanisms (like the decking underwites). But expect a lot of high-tension teeth-gnashing for next couple years as we still have ample reason to fear they're gonna totally fuck this thing up, because that's these institutions' natural inclination in life. Starting with Beacon Park, because the trending is so transparently obvious that Harvard is going to win at strong-arming a zero-out of out what little is left of that yard...regardless of whether any progress has been made on replacement parcels elsewhere.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
I'd be curious though as to what the future brings for Readville station, though, as Providence/Stoughton trains don't stop here, and the Fairmount and Franklin lines are single platform. I'd think this is a great opportunity for an interchange hub in the future of 15 minute headways, given the number of crossing lines, especially if full build SCR comes to fruition. The only way it'd be even better is if Amtrak stopped here as well, though the lack of highway access and parking rather precludes that. It looks as if the catenary gantries here on the NEC were future proofed for 4 tracks too.
RE: Readville Station itself. . .

The Fairmount platform is scheduled for relocation and full rebuild as 2-tracker. That's been in the works ever since the original "Indigo" study for the Fairmount corridor 15 or so years ago, but was punt-punt-punted off when those service levels were never implemented. Platform would move off the Fairmount-Franklin connector and off the freight clearance route to a spot 250 ft. north on the other side of the Hyde Park Ave. overpass. Basically squared up with the Milton St./HP Ave. intersection and station driveway. Full-high 2-track island clear of the freight turnout diamond, with up-and-over access to the Milton/HP Ave. egress. End of Fairmount Line double-track (currently at "Readville Upper Interlocking" 900 ft. north of that intersection) would get dragged down to frame the new island, with a heavily reconfigured interlocking that turns out freight traffic backing in/out of the CSX yard a few feet ahead of the platform tip (thus ending the freight coexistence at the current platform), and either/or thru routing options to either the Franklin connector or the NEC connector track (currently used daily by those Stoughton end-of-line deadheads to Readville for layover).

Strictly shuttle trains would have no problem turning around on-platform on the single platform in time for maintaining :15 headways, but because Foxboro is already interlining here and RUR specs Forge Park doing the same you need the second platform berth to traffic-mix short-turning trains with thru Franklin slots. Hence, that's an ironclad build priority for relocating/expanding the platform before implementing any service increases. Note that the NEC connector isn't expected to be used in any RUR revenue patterns because the need to re-engage Amtrak dispatch at the junction makes :15 Urban Rail to Westwood Landing too hiccup-prone vs. AMTK priority over doing the same far more cleanly @ Dedham Corporate under unified T dispatch. It's strictly a fail-safe for emergency Providence/Stoughton re-routes, and maybe a far-far future relief option for Westwood-turning service patterns from the northside.

Readville's Franklin platform won't go totally disused even if most Forge Park schedules interlined on the Fairmount side, as they'd be able to grab spot slots during any opportune Amtrak gaps on the old alignment. The RUR-era schedules are just going to be majority-Fairmount on regular Forge Park churns, select quasi-express Forge Park augmentation via the NEC side every couple hours at more irregular spacing. Where more Readville short-turns can simultaneously be Run As Directed on Fairmount to square up any intracity viariances. So it's planned that there'll be a second Milton St. egress added on the Franklin side and that widened sidewalk overpass will be the primary means of transferring between platforms. Disused NEC platforms would either get matching Milton St. egresses or notched provisions to add later if needed. Existing southerly transfer ramps would remain and still be accessible to the relocated Fairmount-side platform by ped path through the parking lot...but would see much lower utilization with the retrenching towards Milton St. and become distinctly secondary accesses. NEC platforms are still perpetually fungible for reactivation. And could be a traded back to life as an offset if Hyde Park Station (likely) has to close and have bus transfers service-consolidated down the street at Fairmount when Amtrak lays the 4th track from Forest Hills (a real action plan, so you are correct that all NEC structures are pre-provisioned for quad). HP likely can't be rebuilt on-footprint without uselessly squished platform access that induces new Providence vs. Amtrak cross-cutting moves, but Readville-NEC won't be layout-compromised by the new tracks so could reopened as a 'superstation' trade-in for the neighborhood. In which case the new northerly Milton St. egresses would likewise be the new center of attention.
 
Last edited:

Stlin

New member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
72
Reaction score
46
F-Line to Dudley, thank you for all the detail.
This is moderately off topic, but I personally doubt that there's enough development demand to justify any deck over any Widett Circle or environs yard in the next 20 - 30 years. That area is so isolated from everything that it would require new elevated access roads connecting to Dorchester ave or the bypass to support the scale of most developments. It would basically be an island surrounded by transportation infrastrucutre. The exception would probably be monolithic constructs like Hudson Yards, or a new stadium, mall or convention center, where I'd hope there's a provision for a infill station on the Fairmount under it all. Now I admit that's no reason not to include a provision of columns and whatnot (as long as you don't lose the plans for them) but I wouldn't want to saddle the project with the financial burden of underwriting it all.

That said, is there any reason the T wouldn't air rights Cabot yards first, where the potential parcels are more manageable in scale, can possibly directly tie into the Travellers/Fourth st bridges, and has the "desirable waterfront" of the Bass River? It's basically the only thing seperating the new developments of SoWa and Broadway. (Edit: I said, having repressed the existence of the I93 tangle)

RE: Readville station; I wouldn't be too sad to lose Hyde Park station. The neighborhood would be amply served by Fairmount. Just using the existing bridge to facilitate cross platform transfers of course is cheap and cheerful, if not the most inspiring solution.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
F-Line to Dudley, thank you for all the detail.
This is moderately off topic, but I personally doubt that there's enough development demand to justify any deck over any Widett Circle or environs yard in the next 20 - 30 years. That area is so isolated from everything that it would require new elevated access roads connecting to Dorchester ave or the bypass to support the scale of most developments. The exception would probably be monolithic constructs like Hudson Yards, or a new stadium, mall or convention center, where I'd hope there's a provision for a infill station on the Fairmount under it all. Now I admit that's no reason not to include a provision of columns and whatnot (as long as you don't lose the plans for them) but I wouldn't want to saddle the project with the financial burden of underwriting it all.

That said, is there any reason the T wouldn't air rights Cabot yards first, where the potential parcels are more manageable in scale, can possibly directly tie into the Travellers/Fourth st bridges, and has the "desirable waterfront" of the Bass River? It's basically the only thing seperating the new developments of SoWa and Broadway.
The Red Line yard is spaced for air rights pegs on the Travelers/4th blocks, so no question those are head-and-shoulders above Widett on desirability. Moreso once the SSX project logjam gets unstuck and Dot Ave. gets re-knitted together into the area by Broadway. Blame our regional ineptitude on planning anything air rights-related for those not being hotter parcels than they are. If we can't make hay on the Pike parcels at all, even the attractive siting of those Cabot super-blocks are unfortunately a reach too far.

The reason this is such a hot topic with Widett's future is because the Olympics bid just *had* to impale itself on ironclad promises that the Widett 'bowl' would be decked over, become a major Games facility, then be turned over to private redevelopment. Blame Boston 2024 for inverting the air rights order-of-priority that way, but unfortunately because they raised the stakes there so high it becomes a major point of negotiations. The fatal flaw there that upended it all was sticking one Master Developer with all the risk. And also pooh-poohing any MassDOT involvement on the lower-level, thinking that would just be pornographic number of parking spaces for Olympic Stadium or whatever.

So with the BDPA still having acid fever dreams of supertalls rising above a deck there, Job #1 on the land sale is baking in the M.O.U. provisions of how the deck would be underwritten by the permanent ground-level transpo easement and chaining the property taxes for the redev to amortizing the deck costs. At very minimum you have to "fix the glitch" that killed it for B24's Master Developer hail-mary or the barely-cooperative-on-a-good-day BDPA will simply never play along on a MassDOT transaction that's needed ASAP. "Underwriting" wouldn't mean sacking the project up-front with costs.

The T's own layover analysis says the track spacing will be compatible with peg mounts...a zero-cost design provision. It's more that since we've already proven that no developer on earth--not even with Olympics-size slush funding--finds acceptable risk in building the deck on their own dime, that the only means possible is if there's public funding for that part.

That's where the property tax 'lockbox' comes in as source of amortization funds, and MassDOT can also trade out its outright ownership sooner to a land 'trust' and flipping itself to just perpetual ground-level easement. The land trust can then chart a multi-decade course as clearinghouse for all air rights manners, much like South Station did eons ago for air rights that took till 2020 to become relevant. They can slow-walk it all they want because they do have the luxury of near-infinite time before they actually find somebody willing to build here.

The important thing is just inking the M.O.U. up-front so those transitional institutions can start doing their thing troubleshooting the deep long-term. That also qualifies as "fixing the glitch" from the Olympics disaster trying to do too much too soon on too many over-assumptions.


I fully agree with you that we'll all be dead before something ever rises on a deck there, because the location is what it is for craptacular access and in real-world pecking order won't be touched until we figure out how to infill the Pike canyon and Traveler/W. 4th superblocks. Which themselves will never happen without a drastic sea change in the utter brainlock that thwarts everything air rights-related in this city. So consider all of that a paper-only exercise settling up the "what-if's" as means-to-end for the institutional cooperation...and not anything that's odds-likely to be consequential in real 'concrete'.
If we get real lucky one of these decades with a compelling redev-on-deck proposal, then it's all gravy to have done the existential handshakes up-front and to have gone to the trouble to paper-enumerate the mechanisms. Serves same good as the South Station air rights dept. forming but not getting its first bite for 35 years.

I don't think we would've been all that surprised or deeply disappointed if SS Tower vanished into more vaporware because that's what we were conditioned to expect all along. But boy-oh-boy if that tower stays on-track for construction schedule does that mid-80's decision to form the SS air rights trust get retro-lauded as visionary. Same at Widett. If nothing ever happens, then we still solved the practical problems of perma-solving CBD transit storage (noting as well the bus coattails for post-NSRL reapportionment) and got the generally half-cocked Food Market relocated to pound-for-pound more efficient facilities in service of stabilization of local wholesale prices.

And BDPA and its umpteen planning successors have perpetual jerking-off material to keep them forever occupied even if nothing ever happens, which is probably a safer bet than letting their minds wander to too many new urban renewal canvases where their involvement instantly starts breaking shit.

Those are eminently good and productive outcomes even if you put zero stock in anything ever rising out of the 'bowl'. But in the one-in-a-million chance something ever does rise???...visionaries! Nothing whatsoever to lose by getting their stories straight up-front on that.
 

HelloBostonHi

Active Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
821
Reaction score
769

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
Anyone know or understand why they are building an island platform between Tracks 1 and 2 when track 1 is already served by a side platform? Wouldn't it make more sense to build the island platform between Tracks 2 and 3 so there would be three station tracks?
1) That was the traditional configuration of Worcester Union pre-1974 when it had the same island. Footprint still exists for it, so least structurally-invasive means of re-adding.

2) Because of the Grafton St. overpass pinching the width below ADA regs the existing full-high side low is shorter than can open all doors on the rush-hour 7-packs that currently are on the schedule. So Tk. 1 needs to open doors to the island as well to board/alight all doors on a max-size set within acceptable dwells.

3) T territory ends at their turnout east of the layover yard. CSX is deeding them Tk. 2, but 3 & 4 are the CSX mainline under CSX dispatch so the handoffs are awkward enough that they'd have to avoid using a Tk. 3-facing platform all times except absolutely necessary. Given #1 as a cost consideration there weren't enough extra slots to reach for touching Tk. 3, and #2 means the Tk. 1 island touch is needed for maximally quick turnaround dwells.
 

Stlin

New member
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
72
Reaction score
46
Anyone know or understand why they are building an island platform between Tracks 1 and 2 when track 1 is already served by a side platform? Wouldn't it make more sense to build the island platform between Tracks 2 and 3 so there would be three station tracks?
The RoW ownership around Worcester is complicated. P&W own the track to the NW of the station, the station itself is WRA. I believe that only tracks 1&2 are MBTA controlled; 3&4 are CSX. I believe that building a platform between 2 and 3 would impede freight clearance on 3, and would have required substantial track realignment of 2 to create the needed space.

Edit: who actually owns the Grafton Street bridge anyways? That's a fairly old structure itself. Would it be scheduled for replacement or major refurb anytime soon? It's probably possible to cantilever out a couple of feet to accomodate the relatively low loading of a passenger platform to avoid the pinch, but it's probably not worth the investment.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
The RoW ownership around Worcester is complicated. P&W own the track to the NW of the station, the station itself is WRA. I believe that only tracks 1&2 are MBTA controlled; 3&4 are CSX. I believe that building a platform between 2 and 3 would impede freight clearance on 3, and would have required substantial track realignment of 2 to create the needed space.
CP 43 Interlocking is the division post between MBTA dispatch control of the mainline and CSX dispatch control (see crossover and pair of signal towers behind the self-storage building). The next 1.2 miles of ROW is shared-control...MBTA dispatch on the station/layover leads, CSX dispatch on the yard lead + nearest mainline track that becomes Tk. 3 nearest the station. The T tracks divide into the yard lead and the station running track (such that Worcester CR very briefly and inconsequentially goes single-track). A whole lot of interlocking work is going to take place between about Fantasia Dr. and the end of the layover yard to tie new platform Tk. 2 into the station leads. CSX Tk. 4 is the access point to the busy intermodal yard, and CSX Tk. 3 is where all the general freight running nonstop to Westborough and Framingham passes the IM yard (which is cube-loading only...no general freight makes a stopover there). T dispatch controls the mainline switch to the CSX yard lead that runs way east of CP 43 around the curve underneath Plantation St. That's used odd times when they're either mashing together a combination intermodal + general freight train and are splitting off the general half to thru-route it Framingham, or when they need overflow storage of empty IM well cars (holiday weekend gluts and whatnot) and are temp-stuffing those in Framingham.

The IM trains actually aren't a problem around a full-high platforms because the well cars that cup the double-stacked shipping cubes slip comfortably underneath the platform edge of a full-high. It's the Plate F general freight (60 ft. boxcars and the like) going to Framingham that have "high-and-wide" turning radius. Thus the track respacing would get messy in a big hurry if passenger trains tried to make use of Tk. 3, because you'd have to cram in more crossovers in a traffic-crowded area that's already got double-digit count automatic switches in the span of a mile divvied between 2 different companies' dispatchers who'd have to coordinate on the throw sequence. Yuck. And future RUR service levels to Worcester + tippy-top envisioned Amtrak Inland Route service levels don't saturate the capacity of this funded expansion, so there's zero compelling future-proof reason to bother touching Tk. 3 and its crazy-quilt dispatching complexity.

P&W is fairly well-buffered from the mix. Their CSX-control crossovers are at CP 45 well west of the station by the Green St. overpass. The daily CSX interchange job comes out of Framingham blowing past on Tk. 3, then takes the crossover next to the dog park abutting Green to run into the gut of Southbridge St. Yard. CSX's daily SEPO/POSE ("Selkirk-Portland/Portland-Selkirk") joint venture with Pan Am runs nonstop from Palmer and peels off onto the Gardner Branch behind the WRTA garage, and the daily P&W autorack job to Gardner climbs out from the underpass hugging the fence side of the parking garage where they don't need CSX dispatch permission. All those switch moves are completed a full 500 ft. west of the station platforms after thru Amtrak service has already merged back into the mainline and changed over from MBTA dispatcher to CSX dispatcher, so are extracurricular to any traffic stopping at Worcester Union.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
Edit: who actually owns the Grafton Street bridge anyways? That's a fairly old structure itself. Would it be scheduled for replacement or major refurb anytime soon? It's probably possible to cantilever out a couple of feet to accomodate the relatively low loading of a passenger platform to avoid the pinch, but it's probably not worth the investment.
WRA, because it's part of the actual station foundation. Ditto the Harding, Franklin, and Front (despite that being painted by P&W) overpasses. Not sure about the next three up on the Gardner Branch. The bridge over the closed-off Summer St. ramp has some derelict former station structure attached to the southeast-tip abutments, so that may be WRA. Bridge St. + MLK Blvd. were new construction for the St. Vincent's garage air rights project so almost certainly City or City-conveyed-to-MassDOT property despite P&W being the ROW owner. Rest of the B&A viaduct overpasses are CSX, including the ones that co-carry P&W tracks to Southbridge St. (fine-print in the Penn Central dismemberment). Though I fully expect MassDOT's going to have bought Worcester-Springfield long before any of those get so much as a single dab of paint, so we don't have much to speculate over who's in charge of the next cycled rehab.

Just note that because Worcester Intermodal is so crucial to CSX's profit margins, there is no way in hell they are ever turning over dispatch control west-of-Worcester if/when they sell out the ROW. Amtrak will get their bounty of slots to the capacity of the upgraded B&A, but it's business-critical to CSX that their national dispatcher be the one throwing the switches around the megabucks yards in Worcester and West Springfield. So the environs around Worcester Union are always going to be very complicated split jurisdiction.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549

Welp...this was apparently unplanned this early in the game, but under-construction Gloucester Draw suffered some major failure forcing Rockport Line service to start short-turning at West Gloucester immediately and indefinitely. Gloucester and Rockport Stations are potentially going to be cut off from the world via shuttle bus for quite awhile, and much sooner than anticipated as regular weekday service was to be maintained until much much deeper into the project. Per a couple posts up from a week ago they just got permitting to start working the underside for channel dredging and utility relocation, so no parts of the new bridge have been poured and the old moving span still had many more months before it was touched by any advancing construction.

I wonder what happened.
UPDATE: Gloucester Draw's condition deemed too far gone to attempt any spot-repair of whatever went wrong with the moving span last month, so the construction schedule has now been reshuffled into full 18-month closure for demo/rebuild. As before, this was not the original plan at all and the chagne-in-plans was most definitely not a COVID-related convenience thing. Until 4 weeks ago they were well along and proceeding at full speed with half-and-half demo/construction one track at a time with eventual shifting from old half to partially complete new half as if there'd be no weekday outages anticipated. Old-half bascule suffered a mechanical failure major enough to flunk all inspection for short-term patches so this now becomes the unintentional new construction scramble. New crossovers have gone into service west of the draw so a full CR schedule can be retained to West Gloucester when schedules re-increase (albeit requiring lots of deadheading to/from Beverly Depot pocket track or Somerville to stage it all). Rockport and Gloucester Station riders get the free West Gloucester shuttle bus to their trains for the 18-month duration they're cut off from the world.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,656
Reaction score
1,549
https://www.masstransitmag.com/tech...-expand-its-e-ink-digital-paper-pilot-project

T's e-Ink countdown signs program is expanding after a successful Phase I trial. Not sure where or how many new installs, as the Project Page on mbta.com doesn't list details beyond the most recent Phase I expansion sites and all news announcements of this Phase II expansion copypasta the same press release above. Presumably it's a lot more major bus stops on this round.
 

WormtownNative

Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
398
Reaction score
36

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
7,099
Reaction score
1,523
MBTA installs CharlieCard readers at Fairmount Line stations

“Ever since the T started the CharlieCard system, we’ve been working to get CharlieCard access on the Fairmount Line,” said Mela Miles, an organizer with the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition and a member of the Fairmount Indigo Transit Coalition and the T Riders Union. “This is a long-awaited announcement.”

"The readers, due to come online May 18, will allow riders to tap their cards before boarding their trains, then make free transfers to buses along the route and trains at South Station. Until now, riders without monthly passes were required to pay cash to board the trains and were not allowed free transfers."
Link
 

HelloBostonHi

Active Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
821
Reaction score
769
If they're replacing a 4 track bridge (albeit only two used), does it really make sense for them to handicap themselves at 3 when there's room for one more?
Bacon Street bridge is on a curve, from my understanding of the situation by reducing to three tracks, which is all they forsee needing, they can better align the tracks in the existing abutments area to reduce the overall curve radius and increase future possible speeds. New MBTA bridges also have provisions for emergency/maintenance walkways on both sides of them which adds dimension.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
7,099
Reaction score
1,523
Bacon Street bridge is on a curve, from my understanding of the situation by reducing to three tracks, which is all they forsee needing, they can better align the tracks in the existing abutments area to reduce the overall curve radius and increase future possible speeds. New MBTA bridges also have provisions for emergency/maintenance walkways on both sides of them which adds dimension.
Hmm makes sense. I was wondering too because this bridge is from I believe 1909. In another 110 years I could imagine needing 2 tracks for worcester regular service, and the other 2 for a more rapid indigo emu type deal on the ROW out to Framingham. They could do a full EMU conversion out to worcester and use the 3rd track for freight/passing but idk it just doesnt seem good to downgrade something that could be around for a century on a ROW like this, but in all reality 3 tracks can be made to work pretty fine, in 100 years the mbta will probably still be broke, and faster speeds is hopefully worth it. Ill take your word for it.
 

Top