MBTA Red Line / Blue Line Connector

sneijder

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But State is close enough to Orange specs that demoing Bowdoin for Red-Blue either allows you a very nearly Orange-length car with only slight stubbiness..
Are all the BL platforms (ex. Bowdoin) already long enough to fit a 6-car OL train from CRRC? Once the extension to MGH is complete I'd think we only have a handful of years before needing more capacity than the current rolling stock. The Maverick to GC stretch is already getting packed.
 

Arlington

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^ BL-OL length commonality should be the goal of Blue Line Transformation, but we'll have to wait for our BLT (pun intended).

I would hope by then we'd be buying trains where you can walk from car to car, and that the next BL fleet would be prototyping that too.

{EDIT} Once the Bowdoin loop is gone, it seems like the Orient Heights Yard loop is the next tightest BL curve, and if they eliminate that, then OL == BL for curves.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Are all the BL platforms (ex. Bowdoin) already long enough to fit a 6-car OL train from CRRC? Once the extension to MGH is complete I'd think we only have a handful of years before needing more capacity than the current rolling stock. The Maverick to GC stretch is already getting packed.
A 6-car Blue set runs 300 ft. (291 ft. + couplers, rounded-up to nearest 10).
A 6-car Orange set runs 400 ft. (390 ft. + couplers, rounded-up to nearest 10).

  • Wonderland -- '04 lengthening left structural allowances on north end for further lengthening by placing utility boxes beyond reach of future 400 ft. platform. Subtract 7 parking spaces from westerly side and move tail track crossover ~50 ft. Trivial job.
  • Revere Beach -- Offset platforms will fit if extended to max out all space between Beach St. & Shirley Ave. overpasses. Move crossover to other side of Beach St. bridge. Casualty: 1 park bench on Beach St. side. Trivial.
  • Beachmont -- Retaining walls for '04 lengthening extend well south of station. Extend that direction. Trivial.
  • Suffolk Downs -- Offset platforms. Property fence on inbound side has almost 200 ft. of room. Outbound side borders parking lot; 250 ft. available with a re-striping. Better than trivial.
  • Orient Heights -- 150 ft. space available @ full width between end of current platforms and Saratoga St. overpass. Wholesale-rebuilt station seems to provision exactly for this, because no touches to other infrastructure necessary. Better than trivial.
  • Wood Island -- Retaining walls appear to be pre-built in Frankfort St. extension to allow for 100 ft. extension. Pre-provisioned? Trivial.
  • Logan Airport -- Roof at new station is nearly 400 ft. long, extra slack at south end before Pike/1A interchange ramp pilings. Can't verify with certitude, but likely trivial.
  • Maverick -- '04 lengthening did not use all of the space behind the false wall; more than enough still remains. Trivial for subway construction.
  • Aquarium -- '04 lengthening notched narrow platform extensions into the cross-Harbor tunnel. A similar lengthening would just continue that effort. Only utilities at that point are tunnel wall utilities, so that's not much of a problem to tuck on the ceiling. No additional obstructions since just more of the same from the last extension. Moderate difficulty because of higher expense and longer construction timetable, but feasibility not a question.
  • State St. -- ??? There is still a small rump of pre-1924 trolley platform sticking out towards the GC direction. This one will probably require more invasive utility relocation than all others, and thus higher price tag...but is not that big a question mark on feasibility. Consider also that the platform lengthening will be part-and-parcel any curve straightening plans that may result from a "BLT" study. Longer cars immediately become available once Bowdoin is gone as the ruling curve, but the remaining difference between that post-Bowdoin length and pure Orange Line length comes from what they determine @ State.
  • GC -- Still some slack space behind the walls that they didn't use up when they extended onto the old trolley platforms in '04. There will probably have to be a little bit of wall notching, but not nearly as much as State or Aquarium which will keep costs down. The recent big renovation also did a major utilities cleanup both upstairs and down, so the new utility rooms limit the amount of on-wall crap they need to worry about. Moderate work, but feasibility a virtual guarantee and cost should be reasonable.

In short, basically ALL of the surface stops are a piece of cake...in no small part from the fact that the '04 lengthenings, wholesale station renovations, and couple of from-the-ground-up rebuilds seem to have all anticipated Red-Blue enabling longer train lengths in the future. Each individual station project seems to have taken pains to leave further extension as near shovel-ready as humanly possible. In the subway Maverick is no problem and GC is nearly no problem. Aquarium is a bit of a slog...if at least a no-surprises slog. And State's the only one with complications, albeit complications whose fixes might get lumped together in the curve-easing.

They had a much harder job in '04 because of all the surface stations needing significant touches, and much harder subway work in '86 and '87 when Orange and Red were lengthened Haymarket-Chinatown and Central-Ashmont for 6-car trains. I think it'll price out very feasible for whatever net gains in length they can get from Red-Blue straightening out Bowdoin, and the rest all depends on what "BLT" finds at State curve re: whether shooting for straight-up Orange length is the jackpot size.
 

whittle

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This is what they're actually quoting him as saying on the red-blue connector “We’re taking a look at what engineering would be required and then what the funding needs would be, along with a whole bunch of other projects that we’re looking to fund as well.” No context for what question was responding to.
 

Charlie_mta

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“We’re taking a look at what engineering would be required and then what the funding needs would be....”
They've been "taking a look at" this project for many decades, including generating detailed designs. If they don't have a so-called engineering cost by now, then they're idiots.
 

shmessy

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This is what they're actually quoting him as saying on the red-blue connector “We’re taking a look at what engineering would be required and then what the funding needs would be, along with a whole bunch of other projects that we’re looking to fund as well.” No context for what question was responding to.

"Looking ahead, Poftak is similarly hesitant to commit to any timeline to other proposed projects that are popular among transit advocates, such as the Red-Blue connector, which he says would be farther off on the horizon than 2030."

It seems clear that timeline is the Poftak's context. Later than 2030.

But at least I'm a bit more hopeful given Data's post above - - I'll be checking my computer for Commonwealth Magazine tomorrow!
 

datadyne007

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"Looking ahead, Poftak is similarly hesitant to commit to any timeline to other proposed projects that are popular among transit advocates, such as the Red-Blue connector, which he says would be farther off on the horizon than 2030."

It seems clear that timeline is the Poftak's context. Later than 2030.

But at least I'm a bit more hopeful given Data's post above - - I'll be checking my computer for Commonwealth Magazine tomorrow!
Surprise, it dropped early! We're not playing around or parsing many words anymore. We will drag the MBTA every step of the way.

 

whittle

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"Looking ahead, Poftak is similarly hesitant to commit to any timeline to other proposed projects that are popular among transit advocates, such as the Red-Blue connector, which he says would be farther off on the horizon than 2030."
They should include the exact language in the conversation if that's what he said.
 

sneijder

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Equilibria

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Surprise, it dropped early! We're not playing around or parsing many words anymore. We will drag the MBTA every step of the way.

I support the project and share Jim's frustration. Notwithstanding that, I have a couple of issues.

First, there's no acknowledgement here of what the arguments against building the connector before 2030 might be. I don't know what they are or if they're reasonable, but Poftak should be given the opportunity to explain himself, hopefully before the FMCB this afternoon (the Monday morning publication of this piece was of course no accident). You can't rail against "the guardians of the status quo" without identifying why anyone would guard the status quo. Steve Poftak wants a successful MBTA as much as any of us.

Second (and this is a more general issue I have with Jim), there is this laughable quote:

Let me be clear: the Red-Blue connector should have been built years ago. This has been a failing of several administrations, including decisions made by the prior administration after I left office :poop:(y):poop:(y):poop:(y). So there’s plenty of blame to go around. [but not at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!] :poop:(y):poop:(y):poop:(y) We are past the point of pointing fingers. The time has come to get this project done.
For those unaware: Jim Aloisi was once Secretary of Transportation. He did bupkus to solve any of the problems he writes about now, and his credibility as a TM spokesman is... um... questionable as a result. It's particularly problematic in a piece like this, because he is unquestionably himself a "guardian of the status quo" since the status quo did not change during his own tenure...

So Jim, why does this keep happening? I have a feeling you know better than most of us.
 

ant8904

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First, there's no acknowledgement here of what the arguments against building the connector before 2030 might be. I don't know what they are or if they're reasonable, but Poftak should be given the opportunity to explain himself, hopefully before the FMCB this afternoon (the Monday morning publication of this piece was of course no accident). You can't rail against "the guardians of the status quo" without identifying why anyone would guard the status quo. Steve Poftak wants a successful MBTA as much as any of us.
Anyone want to give an idea here of what is the resistance towards the connector? I can imagine reasons: NIMBY-ism, ideology, or budget constraints. But none of that explains it because the GM doesn't live next to the construction zone, probably doesn't operate on some secret kill transit agenda, and not the one that suppose to be concerned on the budget.

Yet, the strongest publicly-visible foot dragging is from the MBTA. I mean it was the FMCB, the group that is suppose to the force that kills things like Red-Blue (especially in circles who emphasis "Baker-appointed"), is that one called out and kept it in the budget. Meanwhile, it was the MBTA that quietly tried to leave it out.
 

Equilibria

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Anyone want to give an idea here of what is the resistance towards the connector? I can imagine reasons: NIMBY-ism, ideology, or budget constraints. But none of that explains it because the GM doesn't live next to the construction zone, probably doesn't operate on some secret kill transit agenda, and not the one that suppose to be concerned on the budget.

Yet, the strongest publicly-visible foot dragging is from the MBTA. I mean it was the FMCB, the group that is suppose to the force that kills things like Red-Blue (especially in circles who emphasis "Baker-appointed"), is that one called out and kept it in the budget. Meanwhile, it was the MBTA that quietly tried to leave it out.
Yeah, and don't forget that one of Pollack's first acts as Secretary was to get out of the CLF obligation (that she herself negotiated on the CLF side) to build it. For some reason administrators have always had it in for this project, but I've never heard an explanation as to why.

You'd think the politics would be at least as strong here as for South Coast Fail or GLX, with the hospital and the Kendall businesspeople all stakeholders.

Again, I'd like to hear Poftak defend himself in an hour. Frankly, it would be useful to hear from an MBTA or MassDOT official why they don't like RBX - it would be the first time ever after decades of side-eye.
 

jdrinboston

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Second (and this is a more general issue I have with Jim), there is this laughable quote:



For those unaware: Jim Aloisi was once Secretary of Transportation. He did bupkus to solve any of the problems he writes about now, and his credibility as a TM spokesman is... um... questionable as a result. It's particularly problematic in a piece like this, because he is unquestionably himself a "guardian of the status quo" since the status quo did not change during his own tenure...

So Jim, why does this keep happening? I have a feeling you know better than most of us.
I appreciate someone having the courage to say this in the open. Given his administrative background, there seems to be a lot of deference toward him within the "transit Twitter" community and on an academic level, I'm sure he knows his stuff. But he always strikes me as somone who feels compelled to let the rest of the group know that he is the smartest person in the room and given his ineffective tenure during the Patrick administration, some of his sweeping jabs at Baker and the FCMB come across as a bit..."precious."
 
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North Shore

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Anyone want to give an idea here of what is the resistance towards the connector? I can imagine reasons: NIMBY-ism, ideology, or budget constraints. But none of that explains it because the GM doesn't live next to the construction zone, probably doesn't operate on some secret kill transit agenda, and not the one that suppose to be concerned on the budget.

Yet, the strongest publicly-visible foot dragging is from the MBTA. I mean it was the FMCB, the group that is suppose to the force that kills things like Red-Blue (especially in circles who emphasis "Baker-appointed"), is that one called out and kept it in the budget. Meanwhile, it was the MBTA that quietly tried to leave it out.
I know in the past there's been some discussion that Mass. General has led the charge against the B-L connector out of fear of how disruptive it could be for them (even when they clearly stand to gain a huge benfit from it being built in teh end).
 

JeffDowntown

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I know in the past there's been some discussion that Mass. General has led the charge against the B-L connector out of fear of how disruptive it could be for them (even when they clearly stand to gain a huge benfit from it being built in teh end).
It would then seem to be very appropriate to coordinate Red-Blue Connector construction with the other near term disruptions planned for Cambridge Street/Charles Station, MGH entrance area.
 

millerm277

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Anyone want to give an idea here of what is the resistance towards the connector? I can imagine reasons: NIMBY-ism, ideology, or budget constraints. But none of that explains it because the GM doesn't live next to the construction zone, probably doesn't operate on some secret kill transit agenda, and not the one that suppose to be concerned on the budget.

Yet, the strongest publicly-visible foot dragging is from the MBTA. I mean it was the FMCB, the group that is suppose to the force that kills things like Red-Blue (especially in circles who emphasis "Baker-appointed"), is that one called out and kept it in the budget. Meanwhile, it was the MBTA that quietly tried to leave it out.
Not speaking for the T, but having watched enough FMCB meetings, I'll make the argument as I see it. This isn't necessarily an endorsement of the argument, just what I believe it is.

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The T has repeatedly expressed that it believes it is unable to ramp up spending faster than it already is. As they've also expressed, they don't believe they have the ability to spend more money than they already have on the capital side at present. During the capital plan meetings a few months back, they recalibrated the capital plan to slow the pace of the spending ramp up because they didn't think they could meet those projections.

Someone would have to go find the slides, but IIRC they've been able to "grow" their capacity to spend by around $150m/yr in the past few years. It is significant, but it's going to be a long time before you get to an organization that can manage as much spending as we'd all like to see at once.

From a general management perspective it makes some sort of sense there. People who are capable of planning and supervising large complex projects need both a bunch of technical expertise and also need a deep familiarity with the organization itself. Like, I don't think you can realistically go double the number of people who can manage project X next year even if you throw millions of dollars at hiring, they need experience that can only be gained on the job and probably on-the job training from people already doing that job.

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The T is juggling numerous large projects already, and presumably existing staff with the knowledge/expertise to supervise them are largely occupied.

Decisions about whether or not to build South Coast Rail, the Allston project, etc, aren't being made at the T level, so they have to work with the reality of the demands those are going to put on the organization and not if they're the best use of staff time or dollars.
 

millerm277

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I know in the past there's been some discussion that Mass. General has led the charge against the B-L connector out of fear of how disruptive it could be for them (even when they clearly stand to gain a huge benfit from it being built in teh end).
They made supportive enough noises in this recent Comm Mag article: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/cambridge-street-could-be-in-for-lots-of-changes/

> David Hanitchak, the hospital’s vice president for real estate, said a Red-Blue subway connection would make it easier for employees, patients, and their families from north of the city to reach MGH. As for the mess during construction, he seemed to take it in stride.

> “In the long run, it would be worth it; in the short run it would be disruptive to the hospital and the community,” he said. “We, as well as the community, would work with the city and T as they develop their construction plans to minimize the disruption as is done with all major projects in the city.”
 

Equilibria

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The T is juggling numerous large projects already, and presumably existing staff with the knowledge/expertise to supervise them are largely occupied.

Decisions about whether or not to build South Coast Rail, the Allston project, etc, aren't being made at the T level, so they have to work with the reality of the demands those are going to put on the organization and not if they're the best use of staff time or dollars.
You're right, but the impact of that attention from the Governor's Office and Secretary has been the hiring of dedicated project management staffs for those projects. I get that RBX does not have a dedicated staff yet, and maybe at a $300M project it exists in a kind of purgatory where it isn't small enough for dedicated hiring but too big for the T to manage in the normal course of business. Honestly, though, that's exactly the instiutional inertia that Aloisi is rightly calling out. This project is worth finding a way through it.

It would then seem to be very appropriate to coordinate Red-Blue Connector construction with the other near term disruptions planned for Cambridge Street/Charles Station, MGH entrance area.
It might also be harder to do it all at once in such a limited staging area, or it might mean disrupting lower Cambridge Street for a long time consecutively right after the Longfellow Bridge re-opened.
 

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