Northland Newton | Needham St. @ Oak St. | Newton

F-Line to Dudley

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Statler -- let's just say that anything definitive will await a new President and a new Congress
so we might as well hold off until January 15 or so
Hold off on discussing? We do nothing but discuss future prospects on all corners of AB. Has it really come down to the only acceptable discussion here is bitching about height and shadows?


How about not dragging topics you personally find boring into the ditch on grounds that because you don't want to discuss them, nobody will be allowed to discuss them around the piles of refuse dumped all over the place? We talk ad nauseam about big-picture infrastructure funding in every corner of the board. It doesn't need to be re-hashed in full every single time because you can never be arsed to read.

I'd say to the curious to refer to the "How to Get T Out of Financial Mess" thread for a primer, but you bombed that one into oblivion too. So I guess the self-fulfilling prophecy has sent all future postulation to a dead-end.



So...ya think we can plunk a few thousand-footers in Upper Falls with purse strings we're not allowed to talk about until January...if ever? We got some serious dead air to fill on this thread.
 

Equilibria

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So...ya think we can plunk a few thousand-footers in Upper Falls with purse strings we're not allowed to talk about until January...if ever? We got some serious dead air to fill on this thread.
Sure! As long as they're all transmission towers... Upper Falls actually has a 1,000 footer now.
 

FK4

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I don't want to make this just another transit thread, BUT since we're on it ---

F-Line --
Do people in state govt and/or the MBTA have any awareness of this "looming" Amtrak forcing the issue process? Because you make it sound so obvious, yet we never hear about it from the pols or even in the media. I suppose the same could be said about all the other insanely obvious things that need to be done, but... what's the awareness level like, as far as you know, behind the scenes?
 

DBM

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Or Mighty Subs for that matter!
Ah, god bless, a fellow Mighty Subs adherent... see my post 10 above yours... no amount of cult-like devotion is too depraved when it comes to the mighty Mighty Subs. That place just. kicks. ass.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I don't want to make this just another transit thread, BUT since we're on it ---

F-Line --
Do people in state govt and/or the MBTA have any awareness of this "looming" Amtrak forcing the issue process? Because you make it sound so obvious, yet we never hear about it from the pols or even in the media. I suppose the same could be said about all the other insanely obvious things that need to be done, but... what's the awareness level like, as far as you know, behind the scenes?
Lots, because the documents showing the service cuts to Needham and Franklin if we didn't blow-the-hell-up the SW Corridor were circulated nationally to much fanfare last Fall. And the upper limit on service growth through there has been established since 2010 when the T co-signed Amtrak's NEC Infrastructure Improvements Master Plan, the report that covers SGR needs and growth of existing (non- superduper HSR) services through 2035.


NEC FUTURE isn't long for this world. The FRA--a purely regulatory agency--decided it was going to usurp the chain of command and start its own little empire-building operation. Amtrak is hands-off on that, and the FRA's state-level outreach has been so abysmal that state DOT's were never even informed of their recs until they showed up at public meetings and said, "Well...here it is: the preferred Alternative!" You may have read about the controversies in SE Connecticut with their Shoreline alt-spine razing half of downtown Old Lyme and other stupidity like that. The next Administration is going to pull the project from them. They have to. You've got Senators like Schumer and Blumenthal telling the FRA to D.I.A.F., an Amtrak that hates being sidelined which just hired a new RR industry strongman as CEO for his lobbying influence on Congress, and a new Transportation Secretary incoming in January where no candidate for the job is going to be willing to accept a nomination if an insignificant zit like the FRA Administrator is allowed to show up the whole top half of the national transpo policy food chain. So after they're finished impaling themselves the commission will go dark for retooling...and it'll be rebooted as a USDOT/FTA joint with Amtrak running point and Congresscritters + state DOT heads filling out the Board.



MA has no reason to say boo about anything while the commission is actively going down in flames. SW Corridor blowup (and all wanton land destruction elsewhere) is a dead issue, so first post-reboot order of business--like it's going to be everywhere down the Coast--is squaring HSR's impacts to commuter rail service levels. In-house the state is already acutely aware of what a tough spot Needham is in. Their own not-very-serious SW Corridor widening study 10 years ago was all about the vice grip South Coast Rail was going to put all NEC-running Purple schedules in. Then came the 2010 Amtrak Master Plan putting a date to when incremental service growth was going to hit the limit. All internal service studies since...like routing all full-time Foxboro service via the Fairmount Line only, omitting Needham off the Indigo system map, and the great whittling-down of SCR service levels (now with that even stupider "Middleboro Alternative" hail-mary)...are being shaped by that upper limit and when it's going to be breached.

No, they're not having public meetings in Roslindale and Needham re: "Let's talk about how screwed y'all going to be in 20 years!" That would be silly coming this early. But playing keep-away from that SW Corridor limiter has already influenced a half-decade's worth of internal planning activity, so it's going to influence all things HSR/intercity when they get their seat at the table with the feds. First thing they do is going to be shoving that NEC FUTURE report across the table with red pen underlining the Needham and Franklin service cuts and saying: "We can't have this. We can't tell our taxpayers that this is in their best interests. What are offering us to do about it?"

That's where D-Day comes from. Split funding for the Needham expunging and perks for relocating Franklin schedules away from Back Bay are the terms of engagement for Amtrak getting its slots. Because wanton service or physical destruction is a nonstarter, and this is cheaper by multi-billions than any other solve that delivers the feds the HSR frequencies. They know this. They'll get their chance over the next decade to drive that bargain. The state holds all the leverage and has plenty of motivation to use it.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Somewhat back on-topic. . .


The up-up-UPside of all this Newton-Needham development around 128 combined with all that's coming together around Polaroid in Waltham and all that's previously been gelling around Burlington Mall just makes me all the more underwhelmed by Westwood Landing. These towns are finally starting to get a handle on densifying old office park country for the new economy...and one key link in the beltway chain couldn't stick with the program and shed enough retrograde zoning habits. Ironically, the one link that started with the least-sprawly and best density-suited canvas.
 

Equilibria

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Somewhat back on-topic. . .


The up-up-UPside of all this Newton-Needham development around 128 combined with all that's coming together around Polaroid in Waltham and all that's previously been gelling around Burlington Mall just makes me all the more underwhelmed by Westwood Landing. These towns are finally starting to get a handle on densifying old office park country for the new economy...and one key link in the beltway chain couldn't stick with the program and shed enough retrograde zoning habits. Ironically, the one link that started with the least-sprawly and best density-suited canvas.
You're not wrong.
 

mass88

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Somewhat back on-topic. . .


The up-up-UPside of all this Newton-Needham development around 128 combined with all that's coming together around Polaroid in Waltham and all that's previously been gelling around Burlington Mall just makes me all the more underwhelmed by Westwood Landing. These towns are finally starting to get a handle on densifying old office park country for the new economy...and one key link in the beltway chain couldn't stick with the program and shed enough retrograde zoning habits. Ironically, the one link that started with the least-sprawly and best density-suited canvas.
I thought the town of Canton threw a fit at the initial proposals for Westwood Landing and as a result the developer had to scale things back. I thought there was supposed to be more housing and retail on the site?

Which is funny because the residents of Canton love the shopping plaza and their town government caused the development to be diminished a little bit.

Either way that area was pretty much a barren wasteland and it's really cut off from the rest of Westwood, pretty much anything would have been an upgrade.
 

atlantaden

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I thought that concerns for the number of school aged kids moving into the development's proposed housing caused Westwood to cut back on the residential part. Metro Boston communities raise hell at just the thought of additional school-aged kids moving into their town!
 

George_Apley

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I thought that concerns for the number of school aged kids moving into the development's proposed housing caused Westwood to cut back on the residential part. Metro Boston communities raise hell at just the thought of additional school-aged kids moving into their town!
This is the crux of a lot of our suburban density problems, and it's not easily solved. It's really easy to say "force the boutique suburbs to densify", but they will fight you tooth and nail, not just because of NIMBYism but because of very real, school budgetary constraints. As long as we fund education the way we do, this problem will remain.
 

HalcyonEra

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I thought that concerns for the number of school aged kids moving into the development's proposed housing caused Westwood to cut back on the residential part. Metro Boston communities raise hell at just the thought of additional school-aged kids moving into their town!
Canton sued the developers over traffic concerns and although the case was dismissed a few times over procedural matters the delay, combined with the market crash led to the glorified strip mall disaster of today:

http://archive.boston.com/yourtown/dedham/articles/2010/03/21/canton_westwood_station_developers_nearer_to_pact/

http://masslawyersweekly.com/fulltext-opinions/2009/04/20/1241608-town-of-canton-v-paiewonsky-et-al/

This is the same town that killed a ten story office building at the intersection of 95 & 128 that turned into the 3 story one there and I think they also scaled back the soon-to-be former Reebok HQ.
 

tysmith95

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I think this shows the issues with the hyper local government that most of New England endures. It really empowers NIMBY's when they can have such a direct influence on local politics. Near my parents home the neighbours were all up in arms about a 3 story elderly housing complex proposed for the area.
 

mass88

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The road infrastructure in this area is woefully undersized. The expansion of the 128 project made the Highland Ave exit area a lot better, but that momentum gets killed once you go into Newton and things grind to a halt.
 

shmessy

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The road infrastructure in this area is woefully undersized. The expansion of the 128 project made the Highland Ave exit area a lot better, but that momentum gets killed once you go into Newton and things grind to a halt.
Whenever I'm up there, I purposely avoid businesses/restaurants on Needham Street.

It's just too hideous to drive in that cluster traffic situation. Whoever has been responsible for the roads/zoning in that area for the past 30 years must've been compromised in some way.

We've always called that street "Bailey's Sundae".
 

Equilibria

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Whenever I'm up there, I purposely avoid businesses/restaurants on Needham Street.

It's just too hideous to drive in that cluster traffic situation. Whoever has been responsible for the roads/zoning in that area for the past 30 years must've been compromised in some way.

We've always called that street "Bailey's Sundae".
MassDOT is redoing Needham St in the next couple of years, so the current arrangement won't coexist with this project.

Building more road is not the answer - building a Green Line branch next to this development is the answer. I wish the City of Newton were serious about that, but they punted and built a trail on the ROW so now the neighborhood will revolt against the train.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I wish the City of Newton were serious about that, but they punted and built a trail on the ROW so now the neighborhood will revolt against the train.
In this case, though, they didn't punt. The City has rediscovered enthusiasm for the extension with all this redev we're talking about here, because without a transit solution the growth along Needham St. and at New England Business Center won't be sustainable. It's a transit-using neighborhood anyway since the locals are reliant on the 59, sick of the crappy service on that broken route, and dearly want something better. Whatever NIMBY's there might be have powerful incentive to be open-minded given the looming carpocalypse they're looking at.

This is the one "interim" trail I don't worry much about because--by choice or by force-of-traffic-jams--the City has been shaken awake to smart growth considerations, and has taken pains in public statements to be modally inclusive when talking about this ROW's prospects. It's a big contrast to the nihilist earth-salters from Needham Jct. to Medfield who freaked the @#$% out when the '98 Millis CR Feasibility Study was released, started advocating to tear up the rails years before freight service even stopped, then made damn sure they could cut Millis access off by its head for keeps at very first chance.


The portion of ROW that they did convert is plenty wide enough for rail-with-trail, and rail-with-trail is what they're shooting for. The trail conversion did have a side effect of putting some of the encroaching abutters on notice to get their junk off the ROW, so the property lines have been reaffirmed for the first time in ages.

It's also important to note that the MBTA ROW is not the trail of consequence for recreational and pedestrian use...but rather the 1-mile freight spur encircling New England Business Center is. That trail leg has not been built yet other than the first few feet where it forks off the mainline behind the red-and-white radio tower and hits Needham St. at a trailhead. The spur trail will when complete go to Christina St., cross the river on a second old rail bridge, then connect at Kendrick to the Blue Heron Trail for complete coverage of the Charles watershed. The City is really only interested in the MBTA ROW between Route 9 and Oak St., because it links to the Blue Heron and gets within spitting distance of the Sudbury Aqueduct trail on the north end such that a side path to the Eliot stop on the D can link them all together. There's no desire to continue across the Charles into Needham because you can't get more than a block further without hitting 128, and Needham doesn't want any pedestrian bridge over 128 because you can only get non-usefully to the Webster St. grade crossing before the line goes active again for commuter rail tail storage.
 

tysmith95

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How much more branching can you do on the green line? The central subway is already super congested.
 

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