Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:06 am

The EGE wrote:I come bearing information!


Yes you did! Quite interesting, thank you for sharing!

-otto-
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby Z31SPL » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:46 pm

Ancient thread, but an interesting little tidbit that just dawned on me. Reading through the spooky rail thread and some further googling lead me here so I figured this was a good spot for it. So after reading through this thread I think I gathered that basically this ROW continued north where the Blue Line ends in Wonderland. Being born and raised in Lynn I found this fascinating and maybe sought to see if I could figure out where this ended up in Lynn and if any remnants remain to this day. A quick hop on google maps and I start following the fairly distinct ROW north the whole way to the Saugus River. Pretty much not a single building was placed on it.(although some very close) At that point I was a little iffy on where it crossed the river in the G/J parking lot but then I read that part of the old trestle remnants form some part of the support for that pipe that goes halfway across the water. So boom, it all falls together and on the other side of the river clearly the ROW still continues (now an access road and power line route) right down the back side of the Lynnway behind all of the businesses all the way until it runs straight through the new expansion to the Atlantic Toyota service department. Which brings me to the point of this post. I worked there during the time of this expansion. (2008-2010 I think) They were all gung ho, had the contractor come in tear up the parking lot and prepare the site. The place was supposed to be massive. Then rumors started flying they had to downsize the original plans. Time went by and construction kinda stalled for a week or two then it continued as they figured out what to change to make it all fit the budget and what not. Progress was moving right along again, steel framing for the building was up and it was really coming together. Management and the employees started getting exciting so they decided to start giving us tours of the semi-finished building. I walked into the new massive shop (compared to our old dungeon) and right away noticed only half of the concrete floor was poured! From basically where you see where the ROW would continue through the building, to the back of the building, it was an empty shell and no floor. Some questioning of what was going on lead to the fact that they had started building before they had gotten all of the full clearances and they might have to make the shop even smaller than the revised plan. Some more prodding as to how something like this could happen was responded with they figured all of the kinks would have been figured out by this point in construction and some further mumbling about how that half of the building was apparently on railroad property. I didn't know how that could be because it was in the middle of our parking lot and the MBTA commuter lines were a few hundred yards further west from there. Being 19 at the time with only a vague interest in trains and my city's history I shrugged it off and moved on with life. (probably with some added jokes about the idiots that ran the place) The building remained like that for a few months while the lawyers and the city duked it out in court. Eventually though things went through and the building was completed under the original revised design. Pretty interesting though that a 100 year old dead railroad ROW would have an impact on construction even within a company's own property. Secondly, even more crazy that I can put 2 and 2 together all of these years later!
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:13 pm

I'm guessing the ROW was never landbanked and even though we can quite distinctly trace the former ROW, it doesn't actually exist and I would think bares no legal impact on landowner's construction plans. The fact that the ROW was preserved in Revere is because it is owned by a utility, near GE because it is on the [former?] GE property which wasn't expanded but rather leveled and is up for redevelopment, and between Atlantic Toyota's property and Commercial St because it is an active ROW, possibly owned by the MBTA, and used for access to the commuter rail tracks. Beyond Commercial St, the former ROW was developed because it reverted back to owners of smaller parcels who could utilize the property more advantageously.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:43 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:I'm guessing the ROW was never landbanked and even though we can quite distinctly trace the former ROW, it doesn't actually exist and I would think bares no legal impact on landowner's construction plans. The fact that the ROW was preserved in Revere is because it is owned by a utility, near GE because it is on the [former?] GE property which wasn't expanded but rather leveled and is up for redevelopment, and between Atlantic Toyota's property and Commercial St because it is an active ROW, possibly owned by the MBTA, and used for access to the commuter rail tracks. Beyond Commercial St, the former ROW was developed because it reverted back to owners of smaller parcels who could utilize the property more advantageously.


There was no means of landbanking in the mid-1940's when the state bought...not even the 'proto'-landbanking that resulted from the states picking up all those Penn Central & B&M lines in the 70's when the courts were overseeing the ongoing bankruptcies. So, yes, the RR charter for BRB&L was completely extinguished and they are no longer legally-protected transportation corridors. But because the ROW land was bought intact the property lines weren't extinguished as in a normal full-on abandonment-abandonment. It is still officially state-owned for purposes of collecting rent on the power line easement, and the encroachment by the abutting buildings that have gone up in the last 15 years was flagrantly illegal. Unfortunately because Revere politicians and their enabling Legislature critters willfully looked the other way there's no way to un-ring that bell and roll back the encroachment.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby BandA » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:46 am

In MA, if it's owned by the state or city, they can force the encroacher out at the encroacher's expense 10 years from now or a hundred. If it's privately owned, the encroacher can take the property by Adverse Possession after 20 years. Sounds like some sort of deal happened where the city signed away their rights in exchange for small amount of tax revenue...
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:15 am

BandA wrote:In MA, if it's owned by the state or city, they can force the encroacher out at the encroacher's expense 10 years from now or a hundred. If it's privately owned, the encroacher can take the property by Adverse Possession after 20 years. Sounds like some sort of deal happened where the city signed away their rights in exchange for small amount of tax revenue...


And the Legislature critters from up there will ensure that no such penalty is ever levied. That part of Revere was in House Speaker Bob DeLeo's district until the 2010 redistricting retreated the district border to Diamond Creek between Wonderland and Oak Island. There is no freaking way MassDOT could've enforced its property lines. DeLeo is the #1 recipient of campaign donations in the state, and the construction industry is his #1 source of donations. It's why the same shortlist of usual-suspects firms (Suffolk Construction and the like) so thoroughly dominate major real estate projects in Boston/Cambridge and the first set of adjoining 'burbs.


It's like this all over provincial Eastern MA. Malden is another lovely little vat of corruption when it comes to encroaching on what ain't theirs. The city's building inspection dept. made a mockery out of the Saugus Branch's property lines before its official landbanking, when it was just a perpetually out-of-service T-owned / Pan Am-trackage rights branch. There were parking lots paved up to the literal rail head, such that if freight service ever resumed they'd have to bust out the jackhammers to clear a flangeway and un-bury the edges of the ties. At least that one now has a trail on it forcing those freeloaders to back off, but DCR had its hands full trying to get cooperation from the city to get the most flagrant offenders to clear their crap off the ROW. This happens everywhere. Hell...there was a condo complex--since canceled because the developer's financing fell through--in Waltham due to be built at the Fitchburg Line's Elm St. grade crossing on the site of the (sadly now demolished) former freight house. The renderings not only fouled the MBTA's property lines on very much active track, but put a fence inside the safety envelope for dodging a passing train. That one at least had zero chance of ever ever happening without a redesign...but don't count on the town pols who approved it ever caring about such trivialities.


There's too many miles of public property lines to protect, too few eyes making sure they're systematically obeyed, too many people with political profit motive for looking the other way, and too many ways to undermine enforcement from the top on down. It's but one facet of what makes Massachusetts politics Massachusetts politics.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby doublebell » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:10 pm

The "Point of Pines Luxury Rentals" sat vacant, after being built, for several years until an encroachment problem got settled (somehow).
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby Red Wing » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:27 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:There's too many miles of public property lines to protect, too few eyes making sure they're systematically obeyed, too many people with political profit motive for looking the other way, and too many ways to undermine enforcement from the top on down. It's but one facet of what makes Massachusetts politics Massachusetts politics.


DCR and I'm sure all state agencies walk their property lines at least once every five years.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:25 pm

I find that highly unlikely. If it were the case, then it must be utterly useless to do so, since the Saugus branch -- under MBTA ownership -- was, as F-Line stated, flagrantly encroached on. It was arguably in the worst shape out of any state agency owned right-of-way. It took a bike path to remedy alot of it, and if Google Maps' property line are up to date, there's still several backyards encroaching on the ROW. There was even an autobody near Maplewood that was actively dumping hazardous materials all over the ROW for years. Over by Canal St and Charles St there's still some industrial encroachment, but I'm guessing they struck up some sort of deal. For a while, the ROW was impassable because of fences erected fully across it. Those fences came down due to trail construction.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby BandA » Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:29 pm

This came up when they were doing the bike path along the Charles. MA & municipalities can wait as long as they want & still enforce their property rights, just like an Indian treaty claim.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby The EGE » Sun May 08, 2016 12:23 pm

I'd like to cross-post something (with a few clarifications) that I wrote on ArchBoston last night, since I believe it's relevant here.

I've spent some time looking at MassGIS / Oliver, Boston Tax Parcel Viewer, and Lynn and Revere's respective registries of deeds. It appears that the ROW from Revere Street to Point of Pines (minus road crossings) is actually owned by the Massachusetts Electric Company, a National Grid subsidiary, and used as a utility corridor. It is not owned by the state in any fashion; I doubt NG cares too much about enforcing property lines as long as they can access their towers. The utility ROW is mostly about 110 feet wide; the Blue Line ROW is only 30-40 in many locations south of Revere Street. Narrower points of the utility ROW are Revere Street to 354 RB Boulevard (~80 feet due to drainage channel), 354 RBB to Jack Satter House (40 feet), a short section near a couple ponds (47 feet), Mills Avenue jughandle (24 feet), Frank Avenue to Harrington Avenue (40 feet, with a ~2 feet incursion by the 1 Carey Circle Building), Harrington to 1A (29 feet), and past 1A (20 feet). The only real trouble spots for BLX would be the jughandle (reconfigurale), Carey Circle (reconfigure the parking garage access, might have to abandon a few condos which would be literally right next to train wheels), past Harrington (might have to take a few backyard slivers), and the 1A interchange and beyond (would require a BL flyover or a completely rebuilt interchange). There is a substantial amount of wetlands on the 1A side of the ROW; that more than the abutters would complicate reusing it for the Blue Line.

In Lynn, it looks like GE bought up the right of way when they expanded the Riverworks plant during WWII (likely because the BRB&L owned GE a lot for electrification). As far as the Atlantic Toyota property is owned by Lynnway Associates (the Lynnport developers) which bought the GE Gear Plant site in 2014. The 2015 Lynn property map indicates that New England Power Company (another NG subsidiary) has an easement for their power lines. The parcel that Atlantic Toyota's back building and lot sit on (minus the squarish chunk behind Hacienda Corona) were sold to a private developer by GE in 1989. The MBTA acquired from there to Commercial Street in a land swap with GE in 1991. That squarish chunk, plus the wooded area behind Sullivan, were sold to the same private developer in 2014. The final section from Commercial to Market Street has no real current transit value and is owned by various private entities. The Eastern Mass bought the Lynn terminal and a section of the ROW for busway use in January 1941, but by 1968 they'd moved to Central Square (Mt Vernon Street in front of the B&M station) which buses in Lynn used until 2002.

If anyone desires to look them up, parcel numbers are 9-157A-2 in Revere, 035-796-074 (also -082, 083, 084, 092) in Lynn.

In Eastie, Massport owns from Cowper Street to Tomahawk Drive (including a few hundred feet of the Blue Line ROW). A private landowner actually owns the parcels from Tomahawk Drive to just west of Webster Street, including the entire abandoned tunnels. They pay over 5 grand a year in property taxes on undeveloped - and largely undevelopable - land. The former terminal area is owned by the shipyard.

The MBTA owns the Orient Heights yard area. The casket company owns its building (the former BRB&L carhouse). The chunk of land and swamp just east of the MBTA yard is owned by the city via foreclosure, probably after the bankrupt BRB&L declined to pay taxes on property it was unlikely to sell. Most of the Winthrop Loop has been divided up into private property; notable exceptions are the DCR path near Argyle Street, Veterans Road (built on the former ROW), and the former Crystal Cove trestle which is owned by the town.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby YamaOfParadise » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:41 am

Since a friend recently moved into a house nearby Revere Beach, I've looked a number of times around at various points of where the RoW runs adjacent to the Boulevard; certainly would be interesting to see how they'd manage to achieve grade separation if the RoW ever gets re-built. It was grade separated from roads like Oak Island Street, but it's either been significantly infilled since then, or the undergrade wasn't that much under-the-grade to begin with (which is definitely a possibility). Certainly would be harder now that that retirement home (Jack Setter House) is in there, even if they don't actually own the parcel where the RoW went through. That oddly-undeveloped land (it's all grass in between the lots, now) does give an interesting look at how much smaller the RoW is in width due to the railroad being narrow-gauged, though!
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:06 am

YamaOfParadise wrote:Since a friend recently moved into a house nearby Revere Beach, I've looked a number of times around at various points of where the RoW runs adjacent to the Boulevard; certainly would be interesting to see how they'd manage to achieve grade separation if the RoW ever gets re-built. It was grade separated from roads like Oak Island Street, but it's either been significantly infilled since then, or the undergrade wasn't that much under-the-grade to begin with (which is definitely a possibility). Certainly would be harder now that that retirement home (Jack Setter House) is in there, even if they don't actually own the parcel where the RoW went through. That oddly-undeveloped land (it's all grass in between the lots, now) does give an interesting look at how much smaller the RoW is in width due to the railroad being narrow-gauged, though!


Historic Aerials confirms Revere St. and Oak Island St. were underpasses. Revere St. was clearly filled in, with ROW below the embankment still retaining full grade separation depth. Oak I. St. doesn't look anything like it did in the 1955 overhead shot with the extant road bridge, and Google Street View shows no hint of a surviving cut. That area had to have topographically changed a lot in the ensuing decades to erase all traces of what was a pretty pronounced cut on both sides of the street. I would guess that if they had to go to Oak I. for any of the BLX alignments there'd have to be an overpass now.


For extending BLX it may end up outright easier EIS'ing to go to Oak Island, even for the alignment that switches onto the Eastern Route. Oak I. --> curve on an embankment behind the Little League field outfield fence --> overpass Route 1A --> hugging the property line of the Rent-a-Tool parking lot is potentially a lot less thorny than building a trestle across the Diamond Creek wetlands immediately after Wonderland. The Satter House and condo abutter might be outright easier payola for buying cooperation if Diamond Creek permitting and trestle construction prices out unfavorably. There aren't any encroachers at Oak I. like that infamous apartment tower up in Point of Pines. Satter House only has a sidewalk + lawn easement from the power company, and Ocean Plaza Apartments only has a driveway easement to that isolated rear parking lot that was makeshift-added at some point. Not exactly the stuff worth waging holy war over since any compensatory mitigation floated by the state is likely to be far more valuable to the property owners than what little they'd have to give up.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:46 pm

I noticed something new in an image I found today: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hadleygrass/17079422142/

The two BRB&L tunnels were built at different times -- in fact, 19 years apart. As evidenced by the keystones, the easterly tunnel was built in 1875, and when single-track proved insufficient, they built a second tunnel (the westerly one) in 1894.
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Re: Remnants of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn

Postby The EGE » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:36 am

According to the 1980 Robert Stanley book, the original Winthrop Junction station was moved about a block on Bennington Street in 1910. As of that publication it was still extant. I suspect it may have been torn down for the construction of the building that Little Asia now occupies.

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