Widett Circle Redevelopment

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Re: Widett Circle Redevelopment

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed May 31, 2017 1:00 am

BP is 8 sets (down from an original design of 14). Widett is 30 sets.

Yeah...uh, these are not in competition with each other. BP isn't a layover for the full terminal district. In its current design it is pretty much just for the Worcester layer cake of services and nothing more. Since "a" straightening of the Pike and land-swap of ex-CSX land to Harvard was set in stone 10 years ago, there is no means of re-acquiring land there to accommodate all storage needs. Which is why the idle hands in the city who are crapping all over the Widett proposal that just so happens to be the only way to net them developable land have to resort to wild histrionics like "Trains should never need to be out of service! Build the North-South Rail Link instead of SSX and make this Woburn's problem!" They don't have an answer for where terminal district storage is going to go if not at deckable Widett, so they're putting their heads in the sand. The other two sites aren't deckable because the street grid interface is at ground level, so if you need 30+ more trainsets it's going to chew some acres in or near the CBD.

It isn't either/or. They'll build out the storage in chunks as not every parking spot will be needed from Day 1 of SSX. But if Widett isn't available, the lesser storage at the other sites means full buildouts at BOTH Beacon Park and the as-designed Readville expansion immediately. And then...? The football gets punted another 6-12 years until service increases backfill the gained SSX capacity, and it's time for the other shoe to drop on building out the rest of the needed storage. And it won't be megaprojects like South Coast Rail or some Dorchester/Quincy Big Dig of the Old Colony main that force the second-wave storage issue; those capital-intensive projects are the services with the lightest southside equipment shares. No, we're talking Providence frequency backfill, the emerging Worcester Line services layer cake, the Indigos, Foxboro x2'ing frequencies to Walpole and possible Forge Park-end capacity improvements further sending Midland utilization through the roof. Get caught napping and the storage ceiling of *just* BP + the designed Readville expansion gets breached by incremental service increases much sooner than you think.

What then? You'll have to boot the recycling center next door to Readville and double all over again the size of Yard 2 all the way to the riverbank...not an easy task when the ghost of Tom "I can see that train yahd from my house!" Menino still looms large over Hyde Park neighborhood opposition to any increased T presence. Maybe they'll have to engage the even more hysterical Dedham NIMBY's over Readville Yard 5 while simultaneously digging a Hyde Park-buried knife out of their backs...since eventually they'll need a full-service southside maint facility to handle electrics. And maybe a poopshow of some whole other magnitude re-erupts if they can't get Hyde Park to cooperate and have to go combing back through 18+ rejected Alternatives in the original storage scoping study and put some other all-new parcel acquisition back on the table.

If they have the Widett ground-level storage with its decking provisions perma-solving every stakeholder's problems, they don't have to fight new battles in other neighborhoods. All their storage tracks will be there. If they opt to keep the whole BP easement anyway instead of taking more Harvard cash, they can bank it as an MOW yard in the interim then weigh some Worcester/Riverside-only storage later if/when needed. Or hold it as a candidate site for the southside electrics maint facility. They can dial back the Readville expansion and hold that land for the maint facility (more appropriate land use that far out of town), and not need to displace their way all the way to the river while nearby Wolcott Sq. residents blow a gasket. Any which way they use their slack assets they won't ever have to buy any brand new property in the city again if they can get their hands on the Widett ground-level easement. Everything at the century level above-and-beyond those deckable 30 storage tracks @ Widett--the maint facilities, MOW, auxiliary storage--is absorbable by land usage they already have under full in-house control in the City.

If the dumbest neighborhood politics imaginable kills Widett as an option, you are REALLY not going to like what a soap opera that other-shoe-drops second act of the storage expansion is going to be when the BP + Readville combo only serves half the 20-year needs...and doesn't leave any place for that eventual maint facility. These sites aren't in competition with each other, and shouldn't be dumbed down into binary-choice hot takes. The state's trying to barter itself a land portfolio that puts them in the proximity they need to run an all-world frequent commuter rail system while not chewing up excessive real estate. This is the one home-run swing that does all that (and does it for the land developers too) while still leaving acres of other fungible assets in their control for non-invasive future considerations. Everything is brutally hard...forever...if this can't be done. So if a Widett ground-level easement just can't happen...let it not happen for somewhat legit reasons instead of knee-jerk political tribalism setting a new self-defeating low for itself.
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Re: Widett Circle Redevelopment

Postby BandA » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:57 am

I don't think Boston (and Cambridge) and the NIMBYs therein understand how much the rest of the state is subsidizing their transportation. Another option would be to just give up and not build anything. Give up on Widett, don't bother to expand South Station, and adopt congestion pricing to fix the $1B Retirement Board deficit and reduce the number of people working in Boston.
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