In the paper today was an article about connecting Cordage Park in Plymouth, where the Commuter Rail ends , to the Plymouth Waterfront , where the Old Colony tracks used to go to a station . There are still rails in the ground, so would the proposed tram be under the control of the MBTA and an extension of the Commuter Rail? '' ...... was a plan to connect Cordage Park to the downtown waterfront by running a tram along the existing North Plymouth bike path. ''
Sure, but didn't the Plymouth NIMBYs kill that idea when service was first restored back in the 90s? I believe that's why Cordage became the terminus. Given that downtown Plymouth is a tourist destination, I would have thought that the town would have welcomed the economic benefits of trains bringing visitors within easy walking distance of the Rock and such, but my recollection is that the folks there (or at least a loud subset) felt otherwise... you know, trains are big, noisy, scary, dangerous to our children, etc.
The same distance dynamic seems to have been in effect for Newburyport -- have commuter rail there, but there in such a way to be of benefit -- even if not totally convenient -- for those people who are residents and not those who might be tourists.
"A white SUV with a roof antenna just might not be a company van."
According to MBTA's 2014 Blue Book, its April 2013 weekday boardings audit lists Plymouth weekday ridership ranked at #128 among MBTA commuter rail stations at 30 souls. OTOH, Kingston was ranked at #44 at 683 persons. See page 79 for the complete commuter rail ranking by weekday boardings.
The current schedule for the Kingston/Plymouth weekday service shows no AM rush hour trains departing Plymouth. There are three mid-day and one evening inbound trains (two of which originate at Kingston and depart Plymouth northward at 43+ minutes after leaving Kingston!). So the Cordage station plays zero role as a commutation origination/destination - Kingston is the go to station for the area. I'm wondering for how much longer MBTA will continue to serve Cordage station at all especially given the need to close a $42M budget gap for FY18.
People that go to Kingston commute. The Plymouth train would serve the tourists coming to the Waterfront et al at later hours. The town of Plymouth is going gang busters down on the waterfront, a new fish pier almost built, the Rock and the Mayflower getting make overs, a new parking garage being built, and more. Plus Cordage Park is finally getting attention , now that the closed walmart is leveled. ( The owners of Cordage Park in north Plymouth can now move forward with the first phase of a planned mixed-use development, after the local Planning Board approved a site plan for the work. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regio ... story.html ) . I think the tide has turned with the town with respect to access to the waterfront , the more the merrier. I don't know the legalities of this tram idea, but it would go right over the old rail bed, where there is steel still in the ground. I would think any transportation modes over this would have to be in conjunction with the owners of the rail taking the leading role in its use. As someone mentioned its a little like the Newburyport situation, It is a hidden jewel down there.
If Plymouth's buyers remorse is severe enough that they really want this, they're going to have to do all the heavy-lifting on closing the gap themselves. The state has no incentive to bail them out when it was the locals who forced the truncation and utterly ops-broken forking of the line, and it was the local planning authorities who have been utterly unable to execute the redev plan at the Cordage parcels.
Given that this is a very minor gap, they can make something happen if they pull up their planning bootstraps and wow everyone. Take a page out of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and start pushing a multimodal master plan framed around some tight universal goal (in the Cape's case: bike and transit, or die stuck in traffic), whip up a relentless public and private stakeholder coalition with unbreakable enthusiasm for it, be flexible enough to work in packages of small victories and ancillary enhancements towards a big-ticket goal instead of taking home-run swings, and always have an encore proposal ready to pull out every time they notch a small victory. Plymouth's close enough to be part of the same weekender market. If they're smart they should've been taking notes at what the Cape Chamber has been able to accomplish this decade in a limited funding environment, with the state not really focused on their needs, and with other regions (South Coast FAIL Middleboro Alternative, anyone?) actively trying to sabotage them.
First goal is going to be upping their game on the Cordage buildout. It's a genuinely good parcel for mixed-use redev, which makes the 20 years of utter futility getting anything done there all the more baffling. Compared to the big box mall at Kingston, a Cordage that's actually completed according to-plan would be way more walkable and sustainable. It's starting to congeal just a little bit with the medical office buildings, Quincy College satellite campus, and a few pubs and gyms forming a decent anchor at the southeast corner that they can build around. But most of it's still a vacant moonscape, and recent talk of stepping up their efforts still doesn't lead to an especially clear picture of what the endgame is: integrated density, or boxes with parking? Cordage has to compel additional train frequencies first, or downtown isn't going to get any frequent access without locally funding an inconvenient bus to Kingston. To make an "if you build it, they will come" case, the TOD has to have a masterplan that looks good on-paper. Otherwise all the promises in the world of a transit mini-city don't amount to a hill of beans if the plan is confused, disconnected, and liable to be watered down. Case in point: Westwood Landing. All those promises of a vibrant Assembly Square at Route 128 station where people lived, worked, and played in walkable density ended up getting sprawled out into Braintree Mall West: 6-lane roads and chain stores. South Weymouth's going down that same sprawl rabbit hole. If those two sites' regressions mark the default state of entrophy for suburban mixed-use turning sprawly instead of dense, then Cordage has to learn from those (ongoing) mistakes and overpower that tendency.
To underscore the importance of finishing the job at Cordage and finishing it right, look at what kind of awful surrounds the "better" Kingston stop. It's insulated from town by zero sidewalks whatsoever crossing over any of the highways, is a full mile's walk through asphalt sprawl to reach any of the retail, and the country club residences are walled in with intentional disconnect from the street grid. And it's surrounded by CAR dealerships (whose bright zoning idea was that???) Worse...the retail at/around Kingston Collection are big box chains of the exact sort that are getting pummeled by today's Amazon economy. In the last 5 years they've lost Sears, Best Buy, Gap, and H&M. The Macy's narrowly missed the cut on announced 2017 store closures, but probably isn't long for this world. They're trying to diversify with an indoor mini- F1 racetrack in the glut of anchor-store space. The tenant instability over the last 20 years at that mall is so volatile that it's got par odds of closing outright in the next recession, like so many other semi-enclosed suburban malls that have nothing else going for them. Cordage's stop's TOD dreams deferred may not look so bad in 10 years when Kingston stop's near-certain property collapse shutters all the retail north of 44 and west of 3 except for the Lowe's Home Improvement. It's fated to be a slow-motion car crash of the exact kind of unsustainable sprawl we should've gotten wise by the end of the 90's had limited shelf life in a new century.
Plymouth better get Cordage right or we're going to be troubleshooting two failed end-of-line stops before too long, and see no salvation whatsoever in abandoning Cordage to go all-in on the Kingston Branch. Maybe if Plymouth does get that redev right we'll eventually end up with the Plymouth Line we should've had from Day 1: one singular mainline to Plymouth, a relocated Kingston intermediate on 3A in the walkable downtown, Cordage as the TOD anchor, and end of the line at a multimodal transit center at the ferry terminal.
Cordage is on the move. The old walmart is leveled to the ground and they are digging out bricks to salvage a la JJ Duane style I think. Further south down 3A a few blocks there are plans for a new firehouse. There are rejuvenation plans for Nelson street beach area, and down Water street is a new housing complex being built, across from the new boat ramp. Then you get to the town wharf, which has a soon to be opened newly built working fish pier , the fish shack on the water is expanding its wholesale end of the building, and in the surrounding area , the corner at 44 and Water has a newly leveled lot waiting paper on building, then a ways south , there are plans for a massive parking / retail emporium. Then further south of that, The Mayflower is not at its berth as it is being heavily overhauled at a boat yard. Then the Rock is getting a new promenade and street works, the little walking bridge in Brewster Gardens is getting renewed overlooking the new Town Brook road bridge and herring rock run, Its boom town down there. It just cries out for connection to the Cordage Park rail end . Kingston should just be a stop on the way to Plymouth.
This comment may be a bit off topic, but if the Cordage developer is seeking a plan that will work, it needs only to visit the highly successful Legacy Place in Dedham - and that's what the boring Westwood Asphalt Park should look like too. The key is a mixture of interesting compatible shops in a WALKABLE downtown-like setting designed for pleasant strolling. Legacy has no big box stores and the vast plains of asphalt at Westwood should eventually be built out like that. Cordage, take note.