Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion plan

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Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion plan

Postby Teamdriver » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:25 am

Despite being in its “infancy,” a proposed $850 million expansion of South Station raised warning flags today from concerned locals who say a rail link between the more than 100-year-old station and North Station would better solve lingering capacity and commuter rail issues.

“This project does nothing for North Station, which is almost at capacity,” said John Businger, vice president of the National Corridors Initiative today during a public scope session about the multi-year project with state Department of Transportation and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs officials at South Station. “The north side is getting cheated by this project and I think over the coming months and years, before this ever gets done, the opposition is only going to grow.”

Businger also spoke on behalf of former Gov. Michael Dukakis, who is currently in Vietnam, calling the project “unnecessary and irrelevant and a colossal waste of money.”

http://bostonherald.com/business/real_e ... nsion_plan
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby novitiate » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:00 am

Sequence of events!
- Opponents derail plan, demand North-South Rail Link (because apparently the northside is being "cheated" by having money be spent on other parts of the system, just like building the Old Colony lines "cheated" Worcester line riders)
- State agrees, shelves South Station expansion, looks at North-South Link again
- A few million are spent on studies that show the Link would cost billions (which we already knew, but more studies are needed because government)
- The state balks at the price
- USPS sells Dorchester Ave. property to private developers and any hope of an expanded South Station is lost.

Success! Somehow.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby jbvb » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:42 am

I don't know if I'll live to see it, but at some point we'll adjust to living within our means, and the North-South connector will be built as a 2-track elevated down the Distressway RoW.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby CRail » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:51 am

First of all, I really doubt Dukakis thinks the project is an unnecessary waste of money. Irrelevant to what? Now he's just using words to sound like he's saying something. And who the hell is the National Corridors initiative and why does anyone care what they have to say? Thank you for stopping by, NEXT!

Oh. Hello Brad Bellows, architect from Cambridge, what is it about being an architect that gives you the credentials to speak about transportation growth? Nevermind, this is going into the Herald, credentials aren't necessary, go on...
architect from Cambridge wrote:We inherited this system. We haven’t improved it in 100 years. We’ve let it deteriorate, obviously. Expanding South Station may restore part of what we have allowed to erode, but it will certainly not give us the 21st century system we need... ...Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good, but in this case the short-sighted solution is the enemy of the necessary.

Where to begin. Well your history is incredibly flawed, we (assuming we are the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) didn't even own or control the system 100 years ago, nor was it all part of the same system.

So, if the expansion project on the system we've let deteriorate would restore some of that deterioration, how is it not building up to the 21st century system that we need? More importantly, what is a 21st century system? I don't think I've ever specifically seen one of these things.

That last thing just goes back to saying things which sound like things being said. So clearly when you say expanding South Station "would 'ultimately compromise' the Governor’s plan to improve commuter rail service in order to create sustainable economic growth," I have every reason to believe you have any idea what you're talking about.

A lot of proposals exist which don't help out North Station at all. I would say that none of them do but the one that demolishes the Spaulding Rehab to tie in tracks 11 and 12 with provisions for further expansion certainly does.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby wicked » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:26 pm

jbvb wrote:I don't know if I'll live to see it, but at some point we'll adjust to living within our means, and the North-South connector will be built as a 2-track elevated down the Distressway RoW.


Better chance of getting bullet trains running to Pittsfield. It will be at least 30 years before anyone gives serious consideration to an elevated road/rail structure in the city, and they'll only do it then out of necessity (space).
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby newpylong » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:58 am

jbvb wrote:I don't know if I'll live to see it, but at some point we'll adjust to living within our means, and the North-South connector will be built as a 2-track elevated down the Distressway RoW.


Why destroy what we gained when the highway went underground? Grade level akin to the Green Line would work.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:17 am

newpylong wrote:
jbvb wrote:I don't know if I'll live to see it, but at some point we'll adjust to living within our means, and the North-South connector will be built as a 2-track elevated down the Distressway RoW.


Why destroy what we gained when the highway went underground? Grade level akin to the Green Line would work.

The congestion caused by a single train trying to make such a trip (especially during rush hour) would make an elevated look like a great idea.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby trainhq » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:31 pm

“This project does nothing for North Station, which is almost at capacity,” said John Businger, vice president of the National Corridors Initiative today during a public scope session about the multi-year project with state Department of Transportation and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs officials at South Station. “The north side is getting cheated by this project and I think over the coming months and years, before this ever gets done, the opposition is only going to grow.”


Ahem. This isn't quite fair. As I recall, North Station just got a major (and badly needed -was anybody there after a Patriots parade
a while ago -wow!) expansion a few years ago. Getting tracks 11 and 12 working again would be nice (if possible), but I don't see anyone crying
to add any more lines up there like in the South (FR/NB, rail to Cape).

NS rail link was last priced at 2 billion a long time ago; my bet is, it's a lot more than that now. It won't happen
before EVERY other branch line expansion (except possibly FR/NB, another 2G project) gets built. I'll be lucky
to see it before I die.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby djlong » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:14 am

The primary benefit of the N/S Rail Link was allowing through service. That way, a train coming in from Providence doesn't spent a half hour taking up a platform. I would come in on the lower level and, after a brief stop, continue on towards Lowell. That's how you improve capacity at South Station and improve northside service at the same time.

Most of the plans I saw were for a 4-track tunnel, 4 portals (2 North - one for Acton/Fitchburg, one for Lowell/Reading/Newburyport, 2 South - one for Framingham/Worcester, one for NEC) with an optional "Central Station" that would connect with all 4 rapid transit lines. Central Station was a HUGELY expensive option.

But in the case of North and South Stations, the NSRL platforms would be underneath the existing station platforms. The slurry walls are already there - they were part of the Big Dig construction.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby octr202 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:07 am

The concept of the NSRL is brilliant. It would enable the transformation of the commuter rail system from an essentially pure-peak commuter service into a true regional rail system. The closest that happens in the US (NYC excepted, that's always a special case) is Philadelphia, with it's frequent headways, through-routed trains, and easy cross-platform transfers between lines. Unfortunately, since we're past the era of being able to afford Big Things, this hasn't got a snowball's chance in a really hot place of ever happening. Rolling it into the Big Dig would have been it's last chance, and we see how that turned out.

Of course, Philly was also better positioned to take advantage of such a radical change to the rail network than Boston is or was. In Philly, the system was already electrified, so there were no equipment issues. Also, the western half of the Center City tunnel was already in place. Here we'd be doing just about all of it from scratch as it would either entail electrifying some or most of the commuter rail lines, or replacing motive power with hugely expensive dual modes like NJT is acquiring. As if the tunneling itself wouldn't be expensive enough.

Simply making South Station (and maybe someday North Station) bigger isn't the best solution. But it's likely the best we can afford.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby boblothrope » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:30 pm

djlong wrote:The primary benefit of the N/S Rail Link was allowing through service. That way, a train coming in from Providence doesn't spent a half hour taking up a platform.


Does it really take a half hour to turn a train?

If the LIRR can do it in 10 minutes, so can MBCR. Why should it take a half hour to do the FRA brake test, and have the engineer walk to the other end?

That would be the best way to increase capacity at both terminal stations.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby newpylong » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:47 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:
newpylong wrote:
jbvb wrote:I don't know if I'll live to see it, but at some point we'll adjust to living within our means, and the North-South connector will be built as a 2-track elevated down the Distressway RoW.


Why destroy what we gained when the highway went underground? Grade level akin to the Green Line would work.

The congestion caused by a single train trying to make such a trip (especially during rush hour) would make an elevated look like a great idea.


I didn't just suggest it on a whim. I drive in to work there a couple times a week. You really don't have large volume waiting to cross Surface or Atlantic Ave that would conflict with a 2 trolley vehicle that would cross in seconds. The majority of the congestion is on one of those two roads waiting at lights or for people going to get or off of 93. An EL would look ridiculous.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:30 am

An el built of nice stonework would be the cats meow though........... arches of granite , not the ones at Mickey D's.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby octr202 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:32 am

Could have had a lovely little "F-Line East" (as in the F-Line in San Francisco, not the guy who posts on here) operation on the Greenway between the two terminals. As a custom build, could have designed mini-highs in for ADA access and developed a nice little fleet of rebuilt PCCs and other such cars to run on it. Oh well.
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Re: Opponents try to derail $850M South Station expansion pl

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:36 am

We have the Orange Line from Back Bay to North Station. We're good in that department. The problem is we could be through-routing for more robust economic growth as region and perhaps more efficient use of equipment. We should be thinking Salem to Worcester, Lowell to Providence, etc. and Northeast Regionals up to Manchester and Portland, on top of thinking Medford to Yawkey, Lynn to Ruggles, etc.

I'm not sure why anyone is even talking about surface running or elevated rail... the Big Dig paid big bucks to have the area under 93 cleared out for through-running rail!


At any rate, the costs are absurd right now. If there's going to be no control and no accountability, this shouldn't -- and probably won't -- happen.
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