Salem MBTA Station

vanshnookenraggen

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Doesn't look like it. Also doesn't look like it will make space for it :(
 

BostonUrbEx

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No double tracking of the station, no allowance for a Peabody/Danvers branch, no TOD planned, ample amounts of sprawlable park&ride, no new bus feeders.

Yup, it's an MBTA project.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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No double tracking of the station, no allowance for a Peabody/Danvers branch, no TOD planned, ample amounts of sprawlable park&ride, no new bus feeders.

Yup, it's an MBTA project.
The double-track preclusion is pretty infuriating. All they have to do is shift the platform back 20 stinking feet and there's space for a switch before the portal. How stupid can they be? This is a huge traffic bottleneck.


Peabody isn't totally blocked. They have to keep that wye area cleared in case the town wants to reclaim the waterfront behind the station. Those current freight tracks in the rear eat up all the waterfront access space, so if this thing is to have its requisite Transit Oriented Useless Greenspace™ they'll have to swap the current rear tracks for a restored wye out the portal. Relocating a 20 ft. wide sidewalk in favor of 20 ft. wide track berth isn't hard if the upside is greenspace and less visually obtrusive freight tracks. 2 grade crossings over the driveway is not a big deal with only 2 freights per week. If the town wants more nice pretty things out of this build they may ask for that design revision and freight track trade-in up front.


Hey, they might as well now that the single track is single track forever. That reverse move Pan Am has to pull to back on and off the branch blocks the mainline for 5-10 minutes at a time. As for Peabody and chances thereof...boy, all that sharply reduced garage parking for twice the price is really well-suited for a potential future superstation! The Peabody platform would eat all 50 of the perimeter spaces along the curve in the small lot. But hey...Salem wanted its heated shelters so single-mindedly it forgot about those little premature obsolescence catches they were getting for their hideous cost overruns. Or what, if anything, is in it for all of downtown area around that boxy concrete pit.

Then again...heated shelters while the train is held up for 10 extra minutes at Beverly or Swampscott waiting for the track to clear. Yay! :rolleyes:
 

stellarfun

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The capacity of the parking garage was cut nearly in half, supposedly because of costs associated with what's buried under, and the need to drive piles to bedrock. This is filled land, and filled long ago.
___________
For those not familiar, there is a long single track tunnel under downtown Salem, and a bit of single track beyond the station toward Beverly where double tracking, because of a lack of sufficient right-of-way, would require filling in a stretch of the shoreline.

I believe the Peabody spur is now only for a single customer.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The capacity of the parking garage was cut nearly in half, supposedly because of costs associated with what's buried under, and the need to drive piles to bedrock. This is filled land, and filled long ago.
The contractors also said they were shocked, SHOCKED, to find the RR roundhouse foundation underground. The contractors are fucking morons. That roundhouse was standing until the mid-70's. It's right there clear as day on Historic Aerials. It was gradually torn down over a span of 10 years, but the foundation remnants are still visible on the 1978 view. Every commuter rail rider passed by that thing in plain view. There are active MBCR employees who remember it. The T simply paved over it for the parking lot when it relocated Salem station north of the portal in 1987.

Everybody involved in this knew full goddamn well what was in the ground. This little "surprise historical finding!", massive cost overrun, and design slashing on the garage is about as brazen as contractor corruption gets. I can't believe the papers haven't yet grilled them on this. Surely there has got to be one area reporter who's in their early-50's, used to frequent downtown Salem in their youth, and remembers seeing that roundhouse building standing there back during the Nixon Administration. Egad...do they really think people are that stupid?


For those not familiar, there is a long single track tunnel under downtown Salem, and a bit of single track beyond the station toward Beverly where double tracking, because of a lack of sufficient right-of-way, would require filling in a stretch of the shoreline.
The single-track tunnel is a constriction, but that's why you do a double-track platform north of the station. An inbound train can manage an outbound train meet by holding at the platform until the outbounder comes through the tunnel onto its platform. Right now inbounds have to hold at Beverly (which in turn will back up the next Rockport inbound at Montserrat or Newburyport inbound at North Beverly) while outbounds not only stop at the tunnel but disembark at Salem. And outbounds have to either hold way back at Swampscott or sit idle by the first set of crossovers south-of-portal while the inbound is at the platform. If something blows its rush hour schedule chaos ensues on the entire line + both branches. Difference between a 2-minute hold at the portal while the opposing train goes through the tunnel and switches tracks right when it hits daylight, or a 10 minute wait from miles and 2 stations away.

Double-tracking the Salem platform means they can pretty much punt the tunnel issue 20 years or more down the road, get all the Newburyport and Rockport service increases they want, and reopen a (new-location) south-of-portal station at Salem State U as the North Shore Transit Improvements study recommends. And any Peabody service would be able to speed on through the tunnel and quickly get out of the way onto its own platform without having to wait its turn while something delayed way back at Beverly gets priority.

Moving the platform a literal 20 feet back saves all this pain. They don't even have to build the second platform now. Just don't bloody freaking block it forever.

I believe the Peabody spur is now only for a single customer.
Eastman Gelatin factory just west of Peabody Sq. Processes raw gelatin products for food, medical use (all those gelcaps used for pills), and industrial use. Kodak sold them last month 1 week before they filed for bankruptcy to new multinational owners. They've recently increased to 2 carloads a week when Kodak shifted the plant more to foodstuffs and medicine and away from dying film stock materials, but the new owners are huge pharmaceutical materials players who bought 'em for the high-growth medical gelatin industry. Supposed to be hiring more at the plant, and they could be at 3+ carloads by year's end. Pan Am has them pegged as one of their highest-growth Boston-area customers.

The tracks are out-of-service but still maintained to the industrial park near 128. Peabody and Pan Am have aims on luring new rail customers there with the increased frequency to Eastman, since that business only dried up when Eastman went down to 1 load per week.

If you want to see some real traffic insanity, camp out in Peabody Sq. when the freight comes through right at the tail end of rush hour. No gates, no lights...the crew has to flag the crossing to get the train through. You can watch the flagman defy death standing in the middle of the square while idiot drivers gun it within inches of him to beat the train. Almost like those neon flags are daring bulls to charge the matador. One former Pan Am flagman on RR.net told a story about protecting that crossing by menacingly waving a lit emergency flare because FIRE was the only thing most drivers would stop for.
 

Roxxma

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The single-track tunnel is a constriction, but that's why you do a double-track platform north of the station. An inbound train can manage an outbound train meet by holding at the platform until the outbounder comes through the tunnel onto its platform.
Wasn't that how it was done at the old station south of the tunnel? I seem to recall as a freshman at Salem State in 1992, driving by the fairly recently closed station and noticing doors on the Reilly Plaza side of the station to two sets of stairs, one to the inbound platform and another to the outbound platform.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Wasn't that how it was done at the old station south of the tunnel? I seem to recall as a freshman at Salem State in 1992, driving by the fairly recently closed station and noticing doors on the Reilly Plaza side of the station to two sets of stairs, one to the inbound platform and another to the outbound platform.
Yeah. Old station was 2-track, and the switch was a few feet inside the tunnel (tunnel is wider at the south end and narrows on the north end). Accessibility was the problem because the stairs were steep and the platforms literally abutted the portal wall. There would've been no easy structural retrofit to make it more accessible, so they went for the new station on open space north-of-portal. The stairs are still there in derelict condition, and the decorative archways to the stairs are still there on the Mill St. overpass with entrances sealed: http://g.co/maps/bsamt.


The new South Salem station the North Shore Improvements study proposes would've been a few hundred feet further south on more spacious environs next to the unused freight/MBTA storage yard where Canal St. does its little S-curve and the halves of Ocean Ave. reach each side of the tracks. There's a disused freight siding down there on the Canal St. side that's going to be ripped up for a path connecting to the Marblehead trail a few hundred feet further south. So the plan was to situate the station right at path's end because that also serves as a direct walkway into the heart of the Salem State campus, put some parking and TOD on the scuzzy industrial property on Margin St. Not a bad setup. The old station never offered much access to the college or any area buses (and the college itself wasn't what it is today pre-1987), so the utilization would be pretty decent and station spacing between Swampscott and current-Salem worlds better.

One thing this state does very very well is nearby train access to most of its state colleges and community colleges. Pull up the address list (there's a master PDF of it somewhere) of all of the campuses and check off how many of them are within 1-3 miles--at most a campus shuttle trip--from a station. Some of that's dumb luck like the Amtrak stops in Amherst and Pittsfield, but Salem State has the same potential that the Bridgewater stop on the Middleboro Line has. And in a more populated area to boot. Not gonna happen soon, but this places top 2 or 3 on the list of infill stops with high payoff. And does, as noted, really help stage train meets on a maxed out schedule if there were double-track platforms at either end of the single-track tunnel to hold at for 2 minutes instead of 10.
 

choo

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F-Line, the way you describe the benefits of double track here, it seems a no brainer. Do you think the MBCR and Salem are fully aware of this? I imagine Salem would call for this if they were. I feel like we owe them at least a letter or submitted comment in the review so as to not let this opportunity go to waste.

{note: given where i live, I have absolutely impact either way, it's just a good transit decision]
 

F-Line to Dudley

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F-Line, the way you describe the benefits of double track here, it seems a no brainer. Do you think the MBCR and Salem are fully aware of this? I imagine Salem would call for this if they were. I feel like we owe them at least a letter or submitted comment in the review so as to not let this opportunity go to waste.

{note: given where i live, I have absolutely impact either way, it's just a good transit decision]
It's total consultant-ville. Commuter rail operations folk know full well what the need is, but the leadership doesn't care beyond getting another shiny monument. I doubt Salem has been well-informed since the whole project has been marred by poor communication. It would be very much worth bringing up at the next community meeting, if only because the BS non-answer in return will give the game away. That's useful enough for a public already out for blood over the corruption.

The Eastern Route service plan calls for tighter headways once they get the 4 failure-prone, speed-restricted drawbridges on the line replaced over course of the decade (non-optional deathtrap fixes...punch up Saugus Draw and Beverly Draw on Google and fear for your life). It is an ironclad guarantee when they model the traffic data for those service increases that they're going to immediately exclaim, "Oh shit, we need a second Salem platform!"...and remember every other study that gave "You need a second Salem platform" as a top recommendation. Just like they conveniently remembered the roundhouse last week.

Consultants don't have to give a crap about this. It's more money for them if they have to come back in 7 years and re-modify the station. They take their inflated compensation, inflate it further, and laugh all the way to the bank. The total lack of oversight from the T is why they're getting tripped up on these asinine little details. All it would've taken is one person to tap the contractors on the shoulder a year ago and say, "Uh...there was a roundhouse there, and I think we paved over the foundation." Or say, "We might need a second track later on, so...uh...write that down somewhere." They don't care enough to do that, and there are enough friends-helping-friends in that contractor-contractee relationship that they're amply motivated to look the other way. Their forgetfulness is somebody's profit. This is one more iceberg tip surfacing as a warning about everything that's rotten under the surface.


Note there's nothing structurally that blocks future second platform, even with this whoopsie. The switch would peel out to the east side without moving the current track or touching the platform, and there's ample space for the track and platform on the overgrown thicket of trees on that side. They can easily do it later by installing a railing on the first 20 feet of platform to turn that into strictly egress space, and extend the platform on the northern tip by 20 feet to offset. Maybe $25-50K in minor modifications. The absurdity is why create more work for themselves later when they can provision for this now at $0 extra? All that'll do is give them yet one more excuse to do bupkis in the future and retreat from yet another service commitment they've been promising the North Shore for 20 years. The whole platform's getting rebuilt, and it is being extended north so it's a full 800 feet long. So shift it 20 feet, make the egress area an egress not platform space, and be done with it forever. If/when they want to add the second platform later there won't need to have a single piece of construction equipment sitting on the first platform.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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I never understood why someone didn't propose a grand new station at Mill St.

http://g.co/maps/5ke4n

It seems like such a perfect place for one. It would define the area which is now basically the ass end of downtown with a highway and too much parking. Hell the road infrastructure is already there, just fill in the hole.

In that sketch I have the Blue Line terminating at Mill St and a new switch added to the Commuter Rail further north in the tunnel (this may require expanding the tunnel at this point). I would figure a two track station here would allow for more control over switching, though I could be wrong.
 

cybah

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The only comment I'm going to add to this conversation is double tracking in Salem would require diggin up Essex Street to do a cut and cover tunnel and honestly a good chunk of Salem would be so against this. It would change the the way Essex Street looks.. Plus it may not be possible because Essex Street is so narrow. And with foundations, it would be come the 'little dig'

Just IMHO..
 

BostonUrbEx

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Essex St? I think you mean Washington St?


I'm curious as to how much more a boring would be, instead of cut and cover. Or what about mining out a wider tunnel, using the existing tunnel as access. IMO, the bar none best thing that could happen is putting a double track station right under Washington, stretching from Essex to Derby. And Blue Line terminating underneath that same location.

Add that to the list of things I would do if I was Bill Gates.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The only comment I'm going to add to this conversation is double tracking in Salem would require diggin up Essex Street to do a cut and cover tunnel and honestly a good chunk of Salem would be so against this. It would change the the way Essex Street looks.. Plus it may not be possible because Essex Street is so narrow. And with foundations, it would be come the 'little dig'

Just IMHO..
That's why you do the double-track platform and have a staging area at the portal to allow trains in the other direction to move. 2000 ft. of single-track running track is not a bottleneck if they've got the timing down. It takes 90 seconds to clear the tunnel. But when you have the dwell times of a busy single-track platform on top of that, a long distance south to the next station (Swampscott), and a station north of there (Beverly) that merges 2 branches it gums up the schedule management on a 12-15 minute stretch of travel time between 3 stops. With woe for all if there are cascading delays.

They don't have to worry about any of that if trains can pass at the Salem platform. Ironically, adding the infill South Salem stop at the other end increases the throughput further by having staging areas on either end of that 90-second tunnel trip. Eliminates the need to try to finesse the south portal meets 3-1/2 miles back at Swampscott and builds in a wide margin of error if something's late hitting the tunnel. Peabody's semi-irrelevant here because it would peel off onto its own track and platform at the tunnel mouth, avoiding the main platform entirely. But the southerly station manages the third branch's passage too.


I think the second tunnel or the widened tunnel is also a nonstarter. But they will never need that unless the line gets extended to Portsmouth/Kittery with very frequent interstate service, and I seriously doubt that's happening before 2035 with how regressive New Hampshire is. North Station would need expansion to handle those kinds of 2035 service levels, and the Eastern Route isn't the only line up for service increases so it'll also be years before they possess enough equipment to physically run those kinds of schedules. I don't know why the T and MPO peg that tunnel so high on the overall priorities list with how many other things have to happen across the whole northside to permit or merit those kinds of service levels.

There's 37 other mundane shorter-term things they can--and in some cases are required to--do to mitigate the problem. The second platform. Eliminating all the deferred-maintenance speed restrictions up and downstream on the collapsing drawbridges. Re-signaling the line with cab signals, which they have to do for the PTC mandate. Real 80 MPH speed limits instead of the sub-60 it is in most places. Mitigating the grade crossing hell in Everett and Chelsea by following the North Shore Improvements recommendation for eliminating the awful 30 MPH-restricted Eastern Ave. crossing (one of the very worst on the system), closing off useless 3rd Ave. in Everett, upgrading the crossing gates on the others with better equipment so the trains don't have to slow as much. And then the real elephant in the room: where the @#$% is the urgency on doing Blue Line-Lynn at all?
 

BostonUrbEx

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Does Oak Island Road in Revere pose any speed restrictions? Given the location, I could imagine elevating the tracks should be rather simple, allowing an overpass over the street. Trains should be hauling 79 MPH from Chelsea Creek to the GE Plant.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Essex St? I think you mean Washington St?


I'm curious as to how much more a boring would be, instead of cut and cover. Or what about mining out a wider tunnel, using the existing tunnel as access. IMO, the bar none best thing that could happen is putting a double track station right under Washington, stretching from Essex to Derby. And Blue Line terminating underneath that same location.

Add that to the list of things I would do if I was Bill Gates.
Both portals have some double-track space inside the tunnel. The 2 tracks at the south end merged inside, and the Peabody branch merged inside on the north end. Not nearly wide enough for an underground station, though. Gets narrow in the middle, and there's 2 different construction segments because the original 1839 tunnel dumped out in the middle of downtown at Norman St. The Bridge St. extension wasn't done until 1952. It would be a nightmare to mess around down there, because it's also a flood-prone area.


Blue Line wouldn't even bother with the tunnel. The MPO-defined proposal on the 2003 PMT had it terminating at South Salem because of the existing yard south of the portal and 4-track ROW up to that point.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Does Oak Island Road in Revere pose any speed restrictions? Given the location, I could imagine elevating the tracks should be rather simple, allowing an overpass over the street. Trains should be hauling 79 MPH from Chelsea Creek to the GE Plant.
They'd do that if the Blue Line came through, but that's by far the least problematic crossing because it's a light residential side street with no truck taffic. Eastern Ave. and the 5 from Everett to Chelsea station (close spacing, lots of gas tanker truck traffic) are the showstoppers. Congress St. Beverly does get knocked out by necessity if they raise the drawbridge any higher than 3 ft. when they replace the span. They want the new one a hell of a lot taller to reduce openings.

If it weren't for the ancient signal system, the Eastern Ave. restriction, and Saugus Draw slowly sinking into the silt that whole 10 miles between Chelsea and Lynn would fly by at an 80-clip.
 

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