Regional Rail (RUR) & North-South Rail Link (NSRL)

F-Line to Dudley

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"Small nitpick...but I sense a slight hesitation to get out of the shallow-end comfort of abstract whitepaper-land and actually start return-volleying the plan vs. "world practice" conditions that have already been settled."
F-Line, this is the accusation you hurl at Transitmatters, yet it is exactly what you are guilty of. There is a tradition in poker that the dealer calls the game. The FMCB decided that the ER was a phase one priority, not TM. This was based on political pressure, not operational rationality. TM is playing the dealers game.
TM has also offered not just one, but two options for the outer line, full electrification or Bi-modeMUs. They are not advocating for the diesel and EMU operations tangle you accuse them of. A simple reading of the response should make that clear. But I guess we shouldn't let truth get in the way of a good story.
I love you.
 

jklo

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By who? I don't think a couple blocks of Revere homeowners have that kind of political clout and there's certainly no one with a reason to oppose it on the Lynn side.
If you went the Port of Pines way, the tracks would be right in people's back yards. Plus the displacement of the residents in the apartment complex. Even though there does look like room to put tracks behind the complex the State would have to take it, I'm sure.

If you stayed on the marsh, that would be easier, but then you would attract even more NIMBYish "environmentalists". I believe the area next to the GE plant is going to be developed, once that gets built it's going to be tough to undo it. Will the GE plant itself survive The Rona? I doubt it. Could you redevelop that?

But EMU's "more realistic". No...just no. How many times does this have to be spelled out: WILDLY DIFFERENT AUDIENCES. Look at Blue vs. the Eastern corridors on the all-modes fold-out system map. Bus origins and destinations in particular. Chelsea and Lynn are not direct-connected by much of anything, and never have been because they grew up on opposite sides of a great big swamp. It's a Lynn-Revere, Revere-Lynn, Maverick-Chelsea, Chelsea-Maverick point-to-point transit world out there, and Broadway in Revere is the only tangible melting pot where the Maverick 1xx's and Lynn 4xx's intertwine. That's the most succinct reason that "Zombie Wonderland" studies out an absolute loser on ridership every...damn...time it gets brought up anew. That direction is not where anyone's making their local connections No one ever projects crossing the 1000 ft. of parking moonscape to make a transfer, because Revere Beach & Eastie are not where the bulk of anyone boarding the Purple Line @ Lynn are going and Chelsea is not where the bulk of people riding any 4xx route into Lynn are going.
Right, they are going downtown. Would Lynn Blue beat UR+Orange to State? I say yes but maybe it would be close? Would Blue beat it to Kendall, SS or BB? I don't know.

Now a Blue-CR connection in general would be helpful for CR riders in general to get to the Airport. Doesn't have to be at Wonderland.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If you went the Port of Pines way, the tracks would be right in people's back yards. Plus the displacement of the residents in the apartment complex. Even though there does look like room to put tracks behind the complex the State would have to take it, I'm sure.

If you stayed on the marsh, that would be easier, but then you would attract even more NIMBYish "environmentalists". I believe the area next to the GE plant is going to be developed, once that gets built it's going to be tough to undo it. Will the GE plant itself survive The Rona? I doubt it. Could you redevelop that?
There's 3 general alternatives: (1) the traditional one through PoP; (2) the swampiest/avoidingest one taking a flying leap across Diamond Creek Marsh from BRB&L ROW to Eastern Route right after Revere St. @ Wonderland; (3) the half-and-half going +1 stops up the BRB&L to Oak Island and making a less-swampy cut over to the Eastern right after the Oak I. Park Little League field (across the AmQuip truck parking lot on 1A).

PoP routing is the largest ridership catchment by far at potentially 2 stops (Oak I. + PoP), least wetlands by far, most potential NIMBY's by far. Diamond Creek was, in the state's last quick look-see, the maximal NIMBY avoidance one but the EIS'ing issues are manifold and the stop spacing at nearly 2.5 miles Wonderland-Lynnport is a rapid transit-worst outlier. Half-and-half behind Kelly's Roast Beef with an Oak I. intermediate stop is mercifully low on environmental impacts if it conforms to the outfield contours of the Little League field, and manageably fairly low on potential NIMBY's as only the senior-housing Jack Satter House would have to be dealt with for having an elevated structure going across their parking easement (which is a T easement...that's why it's split by grass median from abutting the property).


Again...it's been a long time since they've sampled opinion in specifically Revere so I don't know if the NIMBY quotient can be accurately pegged right now. Most of the gut-feeling takes you get on that are based on distinctly 90's-flavor neighborhood snapshots which are awfully long-in-tooth by this point, and the current Legislature delegation (including Mr. Speakah whose mostly Winthrop base overlaps PoP) are toeing the line in support of some sort of build. We're long overdue for a "Revere Transit Study" akin to what neighboring municipalities have done because not only has it been a long time since BLX got meaty sampling of local opinion but the city's bus needs also haven't been polled at any deep level in eons and probably have accumulated a whole long laundry list of unmet needs. The only thing you can say for sure on-spec is that the Diamond Creek option is a genuine YIKES! on environmental difficulty. In the last brief and not-very-serious set of circulated renders 15 years ago the state seemed to placeholder that option mostly because the conversation was about Boston and Lynn not Revere so they made a parking move over addressing the midsection by penciling in the Diamond Creek build alt. With climate resiliency and wetlands approvals being what they are today I can't see that one and its nearly half-mile long swamp trestle getting very far. Best odds are thus going to boil down to PoP vs. Oak I. hop because they're both an order of magnitude lower-impact on wetlands than Diamond Creek.


Right, they are going downtown. Would Lynn Blue beat UR+Orange to State? I say yes but maybe it would be close? Would Blue beat it to Kendall, SS or BB? I don't know.
Anything BLX is contingent on Red-Blue being built, though. None of the modern studies ever treated Lynn in isolation. So...yeah, transfer @ Charles for Kendall via a Red Line that's had its dwells significantly defanged by Red-Blue's load-spreading effects on speediness through Park/DTX is a bigtime draw for Lynn and the 4xx routes. But the main fix is in the 4xx routes themselves. By having them for the first time since the T acquired the Eastern Mass Street Railway bus system in '69 actually terminate at Lynn Terminal and cycle back out the bus frequencies on the North Shore hugely increase across the board. The taffy-stretch leg to Wonderland and extension through the tunnels to Haymarket/SS is absolutely clobbering the headways out there because of the equipment cycle mismatch. And it is getting much worse over time with escalating 1A congestion, so is a decay vector for bus OTP that is eventually going to lay waste to the North Shore if they can't find a correcting mechanism. BLX is the be-all correcting mechanism...all other mitigations that retain the 1A extensions are some significant degree kick-the-can for a few years until the problem re-overwhelms.

So you do have to look at this in terms of network effects. RUR strengthens some parts...especially if you live in Salem or Beverly where Salem has potential to become its own mini breakaway bus hublet for last-mile feeders. But Lynn is under such enormous strain with its bus terminal fundamentally unable to balance its rotations. RUR isn't going to save that because the lion's share of 4xx routes are heading for Blue transfers making the taffy-stretch down 1A non-optional until you can bring Blue up.

Now a Blue-CR connection in general would be helpful for CR riders in general to get to the Airport. Doesn't have to be at Wonderland.
Except...that can't physically be done. Wonderland itself is the closest the two ROW's ever get...and it's a total shit sandwich at 1250 ft. headhouse-to-headhouse. Now...Chelsea superstation is going to shine under RUR and Urban Rail because of the SL3 connection pinging back to Airport and eventual completion of that corridor into Urban Ring Northeast quadrant is a mega mobility tie-in for the North Shore via enabling frequent east-west radial moves those folks have never had before. So there's very very significant "tying the room together" upside behind the new Chelsea build. Especially if SL3 eventually gets rapid transited to LRT, that's probably still going to be an easier transfer for Salem-north than an all-stops Blue Line local out of Lynn/Wonderland. Especially if SL3/UR-Northeast gets luggage rack equipped buses or trolleys assigned someday. And especially if--as per last page's convo w/ Riverside & Deetroyt--that a tri-branch RUR schedule does some skip-stoppage of the lesser inner intermediates like Riverworks/Lynnport for the sake of better 495-land travel times. So a lot of things are slow-cooking around Chelsea superstation that the outer North Shore will gravitate to.

It's still true, however, that the Lynn local bus district is so enormously weighted to shoreline/Blue Line that split-the-difference isn't practically possible or remotely effective. That's just how the swamp portions things: hyper-local Lynn and Chelsea have way less direct affiliation with each other than North Shore-at-large has with either. Big, wet geographical/hydrological quirk that's informed all manner of movement pattern for centuries.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Comm Mag editorial by TM summarizing the same self-release in newsbite portion. I actually think this is quite a bit tighter-written than the other release, mainly for sticking to one point re: the EMU RFI. Basic common-sense explainer about overwrought specs packages vs. sticking off-shelf (with helpful SEPTA citation for "DON'T EVER DO THIS" comparison), avoidance of dual-modes at all costs because of what we just talked about re: their complexity being worse than diesel and a false choice for incrementalism. And they extend that reasoning one step further with simple clarifications that DEMU's (dual-mode MU's) are pound-for-pound worse value than DM locos with the similar ops/fuel premiums getting applied to every car. Plus treatment of the single vs. bi debate on similar "pick one, but don't ever mix 'em" guiding logic (though they're still very reluctant to relinquish their flats preference to contour to the RFI results).

Still have to square this actionable vehicle stance with update of the northside implementation plan, because it's really looking like it has to get pulled for a major retooling with its electric service legs cut out from under it by the Eastern Route half-and-halfing. But that's a whole separate editorial unto itself, so they were correct to split topics for the sake of clarity.


(BTW...I found the over-the-top stern warning tone against swallowing Hydrogen train propaganda pretty funny, though, given that to-date there's only one known test project worldwide at all for those. It's written with an irritated urgency like they were pleading for whighlander to get back on thread topic. 🤓)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The plant has a lot of manufacturing operations, right? If so, I doubt it's been significantly affected by rona.
GE is a bigger threat to GE than world events.

The plant itself has run the gamut over the decades on what its primary functions are. It's sort of half-cocked in utilization right now, but shape-shifting is what it does. And GE is far more likely to sell it to someone buying one of their divisions who then makes Lynn their major manufacturing headquarters than they'd ever try to outright get out of it (a la pulling out of Pittsfield and leaving a hole in the ground). It's too much more valuable doing what it does than any other function. For one, because there's been so much dirty-dirty industry on that site that finding the cash for a demo/cleanup and zoning change is outright improbable for the main site. The Lynnway 'annex' where the apartment developer is now working was always a much more lightly/sporadic-used slab than the main plant. But even now you can see on Google how extensive the hard landfill cap is over all the dirty-dirt remediation there. Take the main plant @ 3x the acreage with its more intensive continuous utilization and the intensity of remediation would have to be tenfold across the slab to build anything mixed-use there. Nope...it ain't going anywhere.


Back to transit, though. CIP is programming in-situ replacement of Saugus Draw in mirror fashion of the in-place rebuild of Beverly Draw. Design-build contracts to be advertised '21-22 (probably later now, since this isn't a five-alarm urgency). That stands to be a really bad idea, because eliminating the draw for a taller fixed span would completely eliminate (as opposed to ameliorate) the speed restriction on the straightway to benefit of RUR and messes with BLX planning by requiring a fixed rapid transit bridge to be 100% duplicated next to a freshly-reconstructed drawbridge at heinous waste of resources. Not to mention the raising to fixed level, which entails dropping more stone fill on the causeway approach through the swamp, beneficially inoculating the mainline from a major flood inundation exploit at not-burdensome EIS'ing because the stone drop for elevation change stays on-footprint.

There is no reason in hell you can't raise the CR side to a new fixed bridge now, and pour 4-track wide abutments to future-proof later for slapping down a second 2-track deck for Blue. The current incarnation of Saugus Draw itself was constructed by B&M to eventually quad-up as you can see from the double-wide abutments on the approach spans and double-wide stone embankments on the shores. You can demo the easterly abutment extensions on the existing bridge to pour half the new abutments, deck those, shift CR onto it, demo the old bridge, pour the new abutment extensions that would accomodate BLX. Then when it's time to build BLX slap the deck on top those westerly-facing abutment extensions, shift CR back onto the west-facing alignment (because BLX would be approaching/diverging from the east), and have BLX take up the "temp" CR alignment. At worst, if BLX is never built, you have a speed-unrestricted and flood-proofed CR fixed bridge with the same unused 4-track expansion capability the old bridge has had for 109 years.

Saugus Draw itself doesn't open very often anymore because the river is an ecological disaster of silt runoff, so is negligible factor on schedules vs. Beverly which does tangibly squeeze train traffic during peak season. Trace the runoff progression on Historic Aerials over the years...it's tragic. It's basically unnavigable except for the few ailing marinas upstream by MA 107 and GE's barge berth which hasn't seen use in years. The biggest bottleneck it poses for trains is simply the speed restriction over the old span, and fact that with any drawbridge new or rebuilt there'd be some varying degree of speed restriction interrupting what's otherwise a long straightaway of would-be continuous 79 MPH. Raising to fixed level wouldn't have to be by too many feet to accommodate GE barge specs and what few shallow pleasure boats are left, and even if MassDPA mounts some major riverbed dredging rescue effort in future years healthy hydrological flow is going to be the focus, not restoring navigability.

I'd like to see TM take a stab at advocacy here when this inflection point comes up for budget debate. Because the duplication of bridge efforts is a senseless waste of resources vs. a *modiucum* of RUR-v.-BLX project coordination and future-proofing. Not to mention that fixed bridge is going to be flat-out better sooner for RUR speeds by its lonesome. It's a clear example of one hand not knowing what the other is doing re: project planning in walled silos. The Rail Vision is happening, BLX is getting back into the debate game, climate change resiliency is a raging debate...and they're looking at a context-free linear project area in vacuum and saying "rebuild in place." Textbook example of needing to be shown the light that all of this is interconnected in an ecosystem, which is what TM does best.

Now...this will be a challenge when Ari keeps stanning for the "RUR as drop-in" BS argument debunked in ^^last posts^^ unaware that he's obliquely representing the organization on social media when he's dug in on personal opinioneering. But this is a golden opportunity for the org to grab another plank of upcoming FCMB business re: Saugus Draw appropriations and weave it into the big-picture narrative of best-practice planning towards a greater goal...RUR primary beneficiary and BLX-complementary.
 
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Riverside

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Agreed that the Commonwealth Magazine editorial is a bit more effective than the blog post.

To -- briefly -- return to the previous discussion, I think it's worth articulating that I am extraordinarily skeptical that any (non-mainline) heavy rail expansion is going to happen in Greater Boston again, ever. (With a very small handful of special case exceptions.) That skepticism extends to BLX and to Orange-to-Reading. GLX has been like pulling teeth, and I think the Big Dig continues to loom large in the public's mind. LRT, BRT and mainline rail I'd still say seem politically viable, but HRT simply does not for the foreseeable future.

I don't know if TransitMatters agrees, but I personally believe that making strategy that pre-supposes BLX or Orange-to-Reading ultimately creates a "perfect-becoming-the-enemy-of-the-good" situation. Do I think Orange-to-Reading is a better idea than EMU-RUR-to-Reading? In principle, yes. But I think EMU-RUR is more likely to happen, and needs to be weighted accordingly.

(I'll post separately in Reasonable Transit Pitches later today some more thoughts on this and which HRT extensions still seem viable to me, but that is off-topic for this thread.)
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Agreed that the Commonwealth Magazine editorial is a bit more effective than the blog post.

To -- briefly -- return to the previous discussion, I think it's worth articulating that I am extraordinarily skeptical that any (non-mainline) heavy rail expansion is going to happen in Greater Boston again, ever. (With a very small handful of special case exceptions.) That skepticism extends to BLX and to Orange-to-Reading. GLX has been like pulling teeth, and I think the Big Dig continues to loom large in the public's mind. LRT, BRT and mainline rail I'd still say seem politically viable, but HRT simply does not for the foreseeable future.

I don't know if TransitMatters agrees, but I personally believe that making strategy that pre-supposes BLX or Orange-to-Reading ultimately creates a "perfect-becoming-the-enemy-of-the-good" situation. Do I think Orange-to-Reading is a better idea than EMU-RUR-to-Reading? In principle, yes. But I think EMU-RUR is more likely to happen, and needs to be weighted accordingly.

(I'll post separately in Reasonable Transit Pitches later today some more thoughts on this and which HRT extensions still seem viable to me, but that is off-topic for this thread.)
I think we're crossing a few too many not-very-related streams here. EMU'ing Reading works great in the interim. You only have a problem when NSRL tries to pair-match it to something from the south that doubles its length. Then the single-tracking, grade crossings, and traffic conflicts with the hungrier Eastern Route at Reading Jct. take a toll that costs a kajillion to fix right. As a straight-up North Station-Reading shuttle at :15 shorn of the extra Haverhill running miles, however, it's self-contained enough to be pick-up-n'-go for the Urban Rail schedules. Segment accordingly: we don't have dilemmas unless/until NSRL enters the picture as a real thing looming. TM can't emphasize firmly enough that RUR proceeds without any thought to how long that NSRL cripple fight will take to resolve itself, and none of the implementation recs shackle themselves to that. OL-Reading is not and never has been a rec decoupled from NSRL. Even the Rail Vision renders that have shown it did so only in the non-preferred Alt. slides that assumed NSRL was being built soon/now.

Because of the superior incline-climbing ability of rapid transit an OL conversion is going to cost less than fixes done right to the RR mode (where Alon Levy's crunched those numbers and called a clear winner). The alternative--and the fear--then becomes "half-assed upgrades" to the RR mode that disrupt the shit out of Medford-Malden...but maybe not enough to eliminate all of the single-tracking. That zap some of the Melrose-Wakefield crossings...but maybe not enough of them that the rest aren't still a maximally painful drag. And the Reading Jct. split remains a bottleneck with the Western at perennial loss of bandwidth to the bigger Eastern. The reason for conceptualizing it at all now is that the half-assed solutions become their own neverending pit and perpetual losing battle, so there becomes an urgency for doing it right and looking at the big picture when NSRL ultimately forces the issue.

But that's all in NSRL world. It has nothing to do with Urban Rail to North Station. Can't comingle the two. Reading's mentioned because the RV had those fringe Alts. that did take a stab at NSRL prereqs...but it's settled policy that NSRL isn't a prereq. File it in the memory banks under "systemwide coattails good and bad" when we have another NSRL study donnybrook, but pay no mind until then. That's very different from OLX-W. Roxbury where RUR induces an immediate urgency by Needham being left out entirely from the frequency conversation. Or BLX-Lynn which has always had immediate urgency because of how unsustainable the North Shore multimodal ops status quo is...just too many not- North Shore pot stirrers pulling a "LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" on the urgency and lack of alternatives.


Booting Haverhill to the NH Main and making just 3 spot fixes (1. DT the Western side of Reading Jct.; 2. full-extension Wellington passing siding to Medford St. bridge; 3. very short DT extension Ash St. into Reading Depot platforms) makes Reading ready-serve for :15 turns diesel or EMU. And 25 kV electrification for the bridge era to NSRL is wholly justifiable because 1 substation for only 1 service's worth of power draw isn't an expensive buy and you flat-out don't know how long it's going to be before NSRL. That investment will be amortized in due time. Comparatively it's a way less risky hedge phasing there vs. the NSRL timetable than it is phasing a Stoughton Line substation in Canton right now then watching South Coast Rail Phase II throw it into chaos in another decade where Easton is the preferred siting and it takes a kludge-a-thon of multiple subs at cost blowout to do the extension. There's zero squeamishness about straight-up Reading Urban Rail...none whatsoever.

The squeamishness now is that since Phase I's treatment of the northside burns such outsized share of resources on wiring up the terminal district that it can't even guarantee 'one' full electric service pattern on consensus highest-demand Eastern Route, should Phase I be attempting anything on the northside? (And let's correct my shitposting bae from the top of the page [😻] while we're at it: the Rail Vision first name-checked dual-modes and DEMU's in throwaway fashion in the footnoteing from the early scoping...TransitMatters has been resolutely consistent right through yesterday's Comm Mag piece that they are a total turd choice for incrementalism.) Yeah, you could substitute Reading or Waltham/Littleton if the Eastern doesn't show enough value without at least one end-to-end branch wire-up. But it's a similarly disproportionate wad getting sucked up by terminal district prereq chores that are not going to pay back until you get multiple wired northside mains using it all. Does the mandate for splitting Phase I north & south efforts that the Rail Vision pegged and TM is doggedly sticking to go too far out on a limb for practicality? Should Phase I instead shoot for more southside work so a northside-centric Phase II starts off with the extra funds to multitask its builds to more immediate value capture in spite of its big terminal district down payment?

I'd say yes, because everyone to-date is still dead-silent on where the electrics are in a :30 + :30 = :15 mix at Bev Depot where the :30's are exclusively diesel and the swing bridge + Salem main platform + tunnel bottlenecks place a pretty low cap on what you can feasibly augment on wholly above-and-beyond all-electric short-turns there. I mean...you simply don't have a chance if the electric share of all service is as poor as 10-15% in a sea of otherwise diesels. Even if you did the more sensible Salem re-trenching with :30 + :30 + :30 tri-branching (Peabody or just side turnout + North St. layover) and cramming as many additional electric shorties as possible over the bridge I don't think a cumulative 35-40% schedule share of electric use is going to cut it either. So they are staring bigtime at a loss in front of the Legislature trying to fund that plan if they can't shoot for a bigger wad than that. Since diesel-land is getting the RUR implementation buffing out to its schedule limits it's not like you aren't resting on real-deal :30 + :30 = :15 baseline any which way, so I don't think this is as hard a conversation to level with the North Shore as the "mandate" talk suggests it is. They can do simple math. A 15% electric schedule is useless tokenism; by all means if the diesels are going to run as frequent as advertised they'd fully agree that 100% electric to Franklin/Foxboro first is a far better deal for the Commonweath in Phase I if the reshuffle recasts Phase II as the bigger, less-threadbare northside centric push.
 

DBM

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The most powerful force in the universe is inertia. Everyone knows how crucial Blue extension to Lynn/Salem is... yet here we are, years later, and where is the tangible progress? Rummaging through my post archive, I see my contributions (frivolous or otherwise) to this discussion are the following:

1.) April 2014--In the "Lynn Central Sq" thread, I submitted photos of the parking lot adjacent to 1 Carey Circle in Point of Pines, the condo complex (not apartments, jklo), which appears to encroach on that ROW from the old Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn RR. When you're standing in the parking lot (as I did--my friend lived there at the time), it sure looks like encroachment--but (if I recall correctly) others then pointed out that there's probably nothing illegal that was done there with the development--the complex may crowd the ROW, but probably doesn't illegally encroach.

Anyway, my friend has long since moved out, but I suspect any NIMBYism-oriented politics at the 1 Carey complex will always be directed beachward, where the cachet is, versus on the ass-end, which is all industrialized with the Newburyport tracks, GE plant, 1A, incinerator, etc. [Which is to say, the periodic piping plover nesting site-related beach closures at Point of Pines drive must drive them absolutely ballistic.]

2.) November 2014--In the "Blue Line To Lynn" thread, I pointed out that Captain America [Seth Moulton] was making lots of noise, having just won the 6th district seat, about the Blue Line extension.

Six years later... victory in the 6th district still runs through Lynn, of course. So I don't see why Seth wouldn't still want to focus his infrastructure advocacy on Blue Line extension--perhaps especially because his North/South Rail Link stumping has fizzled-out so ingloriously? (so far at least)

Six years later ... water in the Rumney Marsh has risen another 20 mm due to sea level rise, with all the corresponding erosion/inundation that entails. What will it be like in that giant tidal basin (I measure it as being approximately 3 square miles) when the next Perfect Storm hits--when sea level is (at least) 50 mm higher than it was in 1991 when Marky Mark went down in the Andrea Gail?

(Yes, technically its in the lee of brave little Nahant--but ask the old-timers what it looked like in Lynn Harbor during the aforementioned storm--Nahant can only do so much...)

And remember, with a nor'easter driven storm surge, you'd have the catastrophic inflow--and then all of that piled-up water has to discharge eventually--and it might be exiting as the next storm-driven incoming high tide is entering--so how awful could that outflow be? (As it is, when it's regular high tide these days, by how many feet does the Newburyport line bridge clear the water in the first place?)

All of which is to say: I think a Blue Line to Lynn/Salem extension plan, assuming the infrastructure was as rigorously engineered as feasible for projected sea level rises, would be foolish without a retrofitting of the Newburyport line there, to make it just as resilient in the face of the Next Big One.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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All of which is to say: I think a Blue Line to Lynn/Salem extension plan, assuming the infrastructure was as rigorously engineered as feasible for projected sea level rises, would be foolish without a retrofitting of the Newburyport line there, to make it just as resilient in the face of the Next Big One.
Yup. As good a reason as any to start the clap-back at MassDOT over that upcoming CIP item: "RAISE THE SAUGUS DRAW APPROACH!" 👏👏

They should be dumping more stone across the whole causeway to raise it 4 ft. while they're at it.
 

DBM

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Saugus Draw itself doesn't open very often anymore because the river is an ecological disaster of silt runoff, so is negligible factor on schedules vs. Beverly which does tangibly squeeze train traffic during peak season. Trace the runoff progression on Historic Aerials over the years...it's tragic. It's basically unnavigable except for the few ailing marinas upstream by MA 107 and GE's barge berth which hasn't seen use in years. The biggest bottleneck it poses for trains is simply the speed restriction over the old span, and fact that with any drawbridge new or rebuilt there'd be some varying degree of speed restriction interrupting what's otherwise a long straightaway of would-be continuous 79 MPH. Raising to fixed level wouldn't have to be by too many feet to accommodate GE barge specs and what few shallow pleasure boats are left, and even if MassDPA mounts some major riverbed dredging rescue effort in future years healthy hydrological flow is going to be the focus, not restoring navigability.
About 25 years ago, when I was young, dumb, and had much more stamina, I actually did the 7 mile or so round-trip paddle, via kayak, from Little Nahant, traversing Lynn Harbor, into Point of Pines, past the GE complex, and up the Saugus River until there wasn't enough water left to continue. As you note, the ecological ruination from the silting is tragic--even back then, in 1995 (give or take), it was depressing to witness, as fun as it was to do that particular voyage. I could only get to the Saugus River Yacht Club before I started touching bottom--in a kayak drawing all of 8 or so inches, with me in it.

[From a historical perspective, though, I suppose it's perversely fitting that the river has been as abused as it has--after all, its source, at the Saugus Iron Works, is where the Puritans launched (what they saw as) their Old Testament-mandated mission to "improve" the howling wilderness, from which so much exploitation, degradation, and abandonment followed. But that's a tale for a different forum...]
 

HenryAlan

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The north side lines have less ridership due to North Station being in a subpar location. A NSRL would give Lynn, Lowell, Salem, Fitchburg, Waltham, Gloucester, and many other cities direct access to South Station and Back Bay without having to transfer.
It's not just the location of North Station, but the lack of Back Bay and Ruggles equivalents. All of that combined renders the north side lines far less useful. I agree with your overall thesis -- connect them to the other downtown job centers and ridership will surge.
 

Arlington

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^ It would be nice to see Sullivan Sq get tall & dense (like Assembly Sq, but, say 30% moreso) and get a RUR stop. Then you could create a Ruggles-Backbay-ish Center served (as those places are) by Orange + multiple CR lines.

And here, again, I lament local land-use policy that have kept Alewife "office park" and Porter ("streetcar tall")
 

shmessy

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The north side lines have less ridership due to North Station being in a subpar location. A NSRL would give Lynn, Lowell, Salem, Fitchburg, Waltham, Gloucester, and many other cities direct access to South Station and Back Bay without having to transfer.
I am writing this post completely agnostic in regards to Presidential politics, but solely on the basis of this subject:

If the Amtrak proponent wins the election, what are people's opinions about the odds of NSRL getting the necessary federal help (a portion, of course) to actually becoming a reality?
 

JumboBuc

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I am writing this post completely agnostic in regards to Presidential politics, but solely on the basis of this subject:

If the Amtrak proponent wins the election, what are people's opinions about the odds of NSRL getting the necessary federal help (a portion, of course) to actually becoming a reality?
In my view: no progress will be made on NSRL in the lives of any of the presidential candidates.
 

Arlington

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If the [public rail] proponent wins the election, what are people's opinions about the odds of NSRL getting the necessary federal help (a portion, of course) to actually becoming a reality?
I don't think NSRL is enough of an Amtrak priority to be powered into existence by a pro-Amtrak president. I think Amtrak's top priorities are chokepoints between Washington DC and NY Penn (specifically old BAL-PHL stuff in Maryland and the NJ-NY tunnel) and then things like the Chicago Hub. Amtrak is focused on these.

I think it far more likely that other pro-RUR themes could come together politically under Biden, particularly if Dems win the Senate and abolish the fillibuster.

In Boston and with a new political landscape, I'd focus on RUR, starting with electrification and higher-frequency rail politically (because it also fits with what advocates have been promoting--frequency first, connectivity second, through-routing last)
1) Focus on electrification & RUR. It fits "green new deal" and sustainability themes, and if prioritized to places like Waltham & Lynn & Lowell can also fit racial/environmental justice themes.​
2) Tie in with the languishing "$1T worth of infastructure" (and the need for fiscal stimulus) that is less likely to founder this time around on PPP vs Public Option questions (that blocked a left-right consensus last time)​
 
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tysmith95

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Merging the Downeaster and Northeast Regional might increase Maine/NH ridership a little bit, but it's a fairly small benefit compared to how NSRL would improve commuter rail.
 

DBM

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I mean...the 8,502⅞th re-re-re-explainer³ bottom-lining of this very basic rock+hard place is not suddenly going to pry open the next magical-thinking deke that frees us from the generational responsibility of building BLX. BLX is the only bloody thing that fixes the fucked bus terminal, and fixing the fucked bus terminal is the only bloody thing that uncaps North Shore transit shares by making the feeders to rail (all rail, including RUR) functional. The end...Finis.
So... if the voters/taxpayers of the Commonwealth, in all of their enlightened, disinterested wisdom, were presented the choice of either BLX or NSRL--but not both--and told to decide based on their understand of which project would achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, which do you think they would pick? Which do you think they should pick? And how would NSRL benefit Lynn's transit infrastructure/potential economic rejuvenation, relative to BLX?

<Needless to say, my presumption is that NSRL's benefit to Lynn is significantly greater than zero--but significantly less than BLX's... but interested to hear takes that analyze all the factors>
 

shmessy

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So... if the voters/taxpayers of the Commonwealth, in all of their enlightened, disinterested wisdom, were presented the choice of either BLX or NSRL--but not both--and told to decide based on their understand of which project would achieve the greatest good for the greatest number, which do you think they would pick? Which do you think they should pick? And how would NSRL benefit Lynn's transit infrastructure/potential economic rejuvenation, relative to BLX?

<Needless to say, my presumption is that NSRL's benefit to Lynn is significantly greater than zero--but significantly less than BLX's... but interested to hear takes that analyze all the factors>
A purely leading/rhetorical question:

Is the issue "Which is better for LYNN", or is it "Which is better for MASSACHUSETTS"?

I ask that because you began your post with "So... if the voters/taxpayers of the Commonwealth, in all of their enlightened, disinterested wisdom, were presented the choice......" but then end with your presumption as it pertains only to Lynn. I think it is a very good issue/question, just that perhaps it should best be framed regarding the Commonwealth overall. Given that a BLX may very well be less expensive, perhaps the bigger bang for the buck would be in the smaller, more particular project? I have no idea, but would also like to hear opinions.

Of course, if the Commonwealth ever pulled its head out of the 17th century and transformed from 39 cities and 312 towns having individual bureaucracies for police/schools, utilities, etc. to perhaps 5-10 cities and 10 or so regional governments, the cost savings in redundancy would be so enormous you could have BLX, NSRL, BRC, and free weekly ice cream sundaes for every boy and girl.........
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Given that the projects in question are so completely, utterly, totally different in what they do as well as completely alien to each other in every manner of logistics for getting them off the ground...this is a question that will never be asked by anyone ever. Asking it in the first place requires a contextual vacuum so complete it's functionally a garbage discussion. Nobody ever makes decisions based on that set of hyper-arbitrary criteria.


But once more for emphasis: RUR is not a rapid-transit spine hitting all color-line transfers downtown such that it'll fix the Lynn Terminal equipment cycle drain's drag effect on frequencies by trimming the bus route kludges. The frequencies singular to the Eastern/Rockburyport main don't have the same upper-bound as any flavor of Purple Line joint vs. as a Blue Line joint to trim all the punitive bus route hackery. When NSRL is just a steel-and-concrete edifice that same standard RUR ops are going to run through, why is there a magical-thinking assumption that you are no longer running the same bog-standard RUR ops that aren't enough to fix this outside-CBD service glitch? Color-line transfers from a claustrophobic cavern 100 ft. below ground to the subway are an order of magnitude slower on vertical transportation than a subway line, the most precision-optimized Purple Line transfer dwells are still slower and more inherently clock-variable than their LRT/HRT equivalents, and the Eastern Route is not/never will become part of the Downtown Terminal District of maximal service overlap. Its frequencies after splitting from all other northside mains are still capped on-average 3x wider than equivalent rapid transit to go along with the 3x or more longer stopwatch on making the physical transfer from the NSRL caverns.

Throw on the fact that at design-build starting gates NSRL is so enormously more complex it's got a minimum 10-15 year longer construction gestation period and thus practically isn't in the same generation of transpo inprovements as an expedited subway extension. Plus fact that the new forms of ridership slamming downtown from North Shorers having new jobs access adds a new layer of CBD congestion (esp. to Red Line @ SS) functionally mandating the BLX load-reliever thru to Charles/MGH as North Shore prerequisite if post-NSRL RUR is to function correctly from the Eastern. In no way/shape/form do you approximate a drop-in replacement that hits a threshold where you can trim the punitive bus-route 'waste' miles on 1A to Wonderland + Haymarket/SS back to Lynn Terminal and reinvest the savings in 2x the last-mile frequencies. RUR + NSRL still lands an order of magnitude shy of critical mass.

So how the hell amid all these practical realities does anyone suddenly see a binary-alternative drop-in replacement leap off the map??? That doesn't follow...at all. The pieces of a well-functioning North Shore transit network that never once functionally aligned with all 8,502 prior debunked "Yeah, but..." leading questions don't by magical thinking serve up that drop-in replacement strawman's debate on the 8503rd try when it's the same damn pieces that have to fit together like a glove to hit paydirt on proper functioning. NSRL isn't one of those glove-fitting pieces...because it's not a build within enough scope of influencing the core problem at one very specific regional terminal well outside the primary influence of the CBD service overlap. Asking the magical-thinking question once more is just same lizard-brain OCD nipping at the same not-relevant-enough fringes for the 8504th, 8505th, 8506th, etc. time hoping for a magically different result. The buses don't snap in line without a rapid transit spine. Eastern Route RUR is one of 3-4 RUR north mainlines to feed from NSRL's CBD service overlap...ergo its service ceiling is not rapid-transit replacement by virtue of needing being one branch mouth feed to amongst many, and most definitely nowhere near rapid-transit replacement on stopwatch time vehicle door-to-vehicle door at the actual transfer stations. When rapid-transit level timekeeping is the only threshold that mathematically lets you cut the routing-hack straightjacket off the last-mile bus frequencies, asking every question on-repeat EXCEPT what brings Lynn Terminal specific rapid-transit level timekeeping is little more than acting out Definition of Insanity via interpretive dance.

Is anyone STILL confused by this??? Speak up now, please.
 
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