Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Postby PraiseX6 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 10:19 pm

This is the first I've heard of restoring trolley service to Sullivan Square. How are they gonna get the tracks over to there? The only obvious (and the cheapest) route would be to rebuild the service track down the middle of Washington St, and we all know how much the T loves street-running. Next, why would they run the new line all the way to Heath? The central subway is already jammed, and there doesn't appear to be a need to double service on the E line south of Copley.

Third, as others have already noted, where would they turn the B and D lines at North Station? I think only the Japanese would be able to turn three lines' worth of trains quickly enough to prevent a backup. Last and least, why 'S line'? 'F' or 'G line' would be next, depending on whether the T considers Mattapan-Ashmont to be the F line.


I can't answer "why" I can only go by what I was told. I wasn't a fan of the "S" name but it was S for 2 reasons and I can't recall them (I'll ask him next week I promise guys). Also as I said in an early post it will be in the SULLIVAN AREA (That doesn't mean the stop is going to be called SULLIVAN) I didn't choose why they picked NS but I liked the idea because I originally came up with that idea! (If you notice early in this thread) Don't worry guys next meeting I will be attending and I can ask all of your questions. Sadly it's not open to the public yet :). Does the idea have flaws? Of course it does but thats were they are heading.
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Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:07 am

Sullivan's do-able as a ring route if it cannibalizes the freight siding (could also do away with the test track and reconfigure the station), winds around the industrial park and fringes of BET, goes through the first leg of the Grand Junction, and connects to the Green Line at an intermediate station at Brickbottom. The various ROW's are so wide there it's got good "superstation" possibilities.

But that would NOT be a part of the Union/West Medford extensions, unless the T wants to complicate and confuse those projects to a standstill and withstand the barrage of lawsuits from Somerville. Sullivan is strictly useful as an Urban Ring route via the Grand Junction. T wants to do this as BRT, which is an insane waste considering that it's a pre-existing RR ROW. But where that's going to make more sense is when you see MIT/BU/Harvard sync their respective political pressures on getting rapid transit up the Grand Junction and terminating at Harvard Square (already in Harvard's capital improvement plan, MIT has plans to bury Mass Ave. to make a stop there, and BU wants to build on Pike air rights to get a new central transfer station at BU Bridge). With that ROW already at 2-track width to the CSX yard and Harvard razing just about everything between there and the Stadium you will probably see that targeted as the next extension after all the ones with possible litigation (Red-Blue, Lynn, West Medford, Arborway, Dudley LRT replacement) reach some sort of final-final conclusion. Once you do that it gets pretty trivial to take it across that no-man's land of rail ROW's into Sullivan...and the various configurations you could run out that way to any which direction on the Green (especially with Brattle Loop in play) would make it a valuable link. Hell, the OLD Routes 92 & 93 trolleys that went on differing routes from Sullivan to Brattle Loop via North Station Under until '49 were tough losses.


But back on topic...keep it simple, damnit! Just get the trolleys rolling out past Lechmere first and then start dreaming. West Medford alone is not going to provide demand for s Sullivan link. It's the Urban Ring that's going to do that, and they shouldn't co-mingle projects until it's time if we ever want anything built. All I want them to do with West Medford that relates to future Ring or extension planning is to 1) construct the Union/West Medford ROW in the Brickbottom area intelligently enough that they have the option to tie in future crosstown trackage with the subway-fed trackage in intelligently-looped fashion that can allow multi-directional revenue routings and a provision for a Brickbottom transfer station, and 2) don't @#$% ruin a viable crosstown rapid-transit rail ROW by tilting at more BRT windmills. That's it. Just future-proof the space available at the big junction point by the shopping center, the McGrath Highway overpass, and the Brickbottom neighborhood before the whole area gets built up...and then stay the hell away until they've built what they've already (overdue) promised.



And I'd still want to see Union get extended to Porter before the Ring routes get built. That one's so easy as a next step it's a no-brainer: take land back from the industrial abutters who carved up what used to be a 4-track-width Fitchburg ROW on that narrower section from Union to Porter, and do some sort of station approach construction from the Beacon St. bridge to the headhouse to fit direct transfers for both lines (either by inclining Green to street level and covering the CR canyon with a grade-separated trolley stub-end, or lane-shifting Green into a cut-and-cover tunnel that dips under the last 500 or so feet of Somerville Ave. to terminate the line inside the station lobby). Voila!...nobody from Harvard or beyond ever needs to choke Park St. again en route to North Station or GC.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Fri Aug 03, 2007 2:02 am

The T mixing different projects so they can afford both? That sound familiar. If what you are describing is that then it doesn't surprise me one bit. I'm sure the resulting transit line will end up just like the Silver Line if this is the case.
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Postby octr202 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:09 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:And I'd still want to see Union get extended to Porter before the Ring routes get built. That one's so easy as a next step it's a no-brainer: take land back from the industrial abutters who carved up what used to be a 4-track-width Fitchburg ROW on that narrower section from Union to Porter, and do some sort of station approach construction from the Beacon St. bridge to the headhouse to fit direct transfers for both lines (either by inclining Green to street level and covering the CR canyon with a grade-separated trolley stub-end, or lane-shifting Green into a cut-and-cover tunnel that dips under the last 500 or so feet of Somerville Ave. to terminate the line inside the station lobby). Voila!...nobody from Harvard or beyond ever needs to choke Park St. again en route to North Station or GC.


That's one of those ideas that makes so much sense in the practical world, but given that it would likely have to be studied seperately from the Lechmere-Union Square extension, that project would never get a high enough score on "New riders generated per capital dollar spent" (I'm paraphrasing the exact criteria). Given that you'd probably only have 2-3 stations on that extension, maybe at most one of them would fall outside of the existing catchment area for a station (considered to be up to one mile for a rapid transit station), you'd never be serving enough "new riders" to make it cost effective. It'd make a huge improvement in the function of the Red Line through the rest of Cambridge and at Park St., but it's pretty unlikely.

The word from the T during the Beyond Lechmere MIS/AA process (and following it) was sort of an unspoken "Just be thankful you got Union Square added to this -- don't push your luck." Sadly, I think we're probably beyond the point of seeing it included in the Union Sq. line.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:24 am

octr202 wrote:The word from the T during the Beyond Lechmere MIS/AA process (and following it) was sort of an unspoken "Just be thankful you got Union Square added to this -- don't push your luck." Sadly, I think we're probably beyond the point of seeing it included in the Union Sq. line.


What the f*ck kind of bizzaro city are we living in when this is the attitude towards better service? It is seriously no wonder we can't do anything right.
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Postby Arborway » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:48 pm

vanshnookenraggen wrote:
octr202 wrote:The word from the T during the Beyond Lechmere MIS/AA process (and following it) was sort of an unspoken "Just be thankful you got Union Square added to this -- don't push your luck." Sadly, I think we're probably beyond the point of seeing it included in the Union Sq. line.


What the f*ck kind of bizzaro city are we living in when this is the attitude towards better service? It is seriously no wonder we can't do anything right.


Somewhere along the way the T decided that rail (CR excluded) was obsolete and not something they wanted to bother with in future system expansions. If this was a Silver Line extension you can bet that they would be backing it 110%.
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Postby Ron Newman » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:30 pm

I think it's more a matter of "build it to Union Square first, then later it might make sense to study extending it further west."
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Postby jck » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:33 am

Arborway wrote:
vanshnookenraggen wrote:
octr202 wrote:The word from the T during the Beyond Lechmere MIS/AA process (and following it) was sort of an unspoken "Just be thankful you got Union Square added to this -- don't push your luck." Sadly, I think we're probably beyond the point of seeing it included in the Union Sq. line.


What the f*ck kind of bizzaro city are we living in when this is the attitude towards better service? It is seriously no wonder we can't do anything right.


Somewhere along the way the T decided that rail (CR excluded) was obsolete and not something they wanted to bother with in future system expansions. If this was a Silver Line extension you can bet that they would be backing it 110%.


I'm pretty sure the problem is at the Federal level. I recall reading at one point that BRT either gets priority for funding, or receives more funding than rail expansions.
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Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:04 am

jck wrote:
Arborway wrote:
vanshnookenraggen wrote:
octr202 wrote:The word from the T during the Beyond Lechmere MIS/AA process (and following it) was sort of an unspoken "Just be thankful you got Union Square added to this -- don't push your luck." Sadly, I think we're probably beyond the point of seeing it included in the Union Sq. line.


What the f*ck kind of bizzaro city are we living in when this is the attitude towards better service? It is seriously no wonder we can't do anything right.


Somewhere along the way the T decided that rail (CR excluded) was obsolete and not something they wanted to bother with in future system expansions. If this was a Silver Line extension you can bet that they would be backing it 110%.


I'm pretty sure the problem is at the Federal level. I recall reading at one point that BRT either gets priority for funding, or receives more funding than rail expansions.


Something wholly dependent on which way the political winds blow. Could change several times over between now and when the T actually gets around to securing, much less spending, its BRT money. And that doesn't even take into account the T's administration. All it takes is for the Patrick administration to install a rail-friendly GM or the legislature to change the forward-funding setup and it's a whole new ballgame. Not that I would pin my hopes on any of this, but BRT priority is volatile enough to change on a dime. Kind of why it's stupid to bank on a transit philosophy that 1) has not yet proven to have lasting power beyond fad stage, and 2) has been rejected by a lot of transit systems smart enough to actually study the very mixed results it's had in cities that have banked on it.

Unfortunately such volatility is more likely to ensure that the T continues to do nothing instead of something (witness SL Phase III after reality hit).
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Postby Charliemta » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:24 pm

"I'm pretty sure the problem is at the Federal level. I recall reading at one point that BRT either gets priority for funding, or receives more funding than rail expansions."

I disagree. Portland, OR, Seattle and many other cities of comparable size are building many new miles of light rail, and are not building BRT. If they can do it, I'm sure a large city like Boston can.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Sun Aug 05, 2007 10:43 pm

But these cities are building new systems from scratch. We have to deal with a system that is 100 years old AND try to expand it. Portland and Seattle are at an advantage with new technologies as well.

Also the T has a HUGE debt that these other projects don't have, yet.
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Postby Charliemta » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:07 am

That's true, but I still wonder why those cities can get Federal funding for new light rail lines, and not be pressured by the Feds to build BRT instead. Seattle and Portland, OR are each currently building about a dozen new miles of light rail. The line in Seattle is expensive, requiring a lot of tunneling and elevated structures, yet they seem to have obtained light rail funding from the Feds, without Federal pressure to build BRT instead.

I think the situation in Boston is that the MBTA and Mayor Menino are both vehemently opposed to light rail development, and for some inexplicable reason, both seem to think BRT is the best thing since sliced bread. The rest of the country doesn't agree. In fact, Portland OR originally in the 1960's had planned three BRT lines, had reserved ROW for these, then decided in the 80's to build Light rail on these routes instead. Portland now has three light rail lines, with a fourth under construction, plus a few miles of street running light rail "streetcars" downtown.

The only BRT line I've heard of being developed is one in Eugene, OR, a very small city.
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Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:01 am

Charliemta wrote:I think the situation in Boston is that the MBTA and Mayor Menino are both vehemently opposed to light rail development, and for some inexplicable reason, both seem to think BRT is the best thing since sliced bread. The rest of the country doesn't agree.


Yeah...that's key. The T's stance could easily change with rail-friendly appointments from the Patrick administration, but Mayor-for-Life is a whole different problem altogether. Until he steps aside, and unless his successor is not some hand-picked proxy, I don't think it's likely that City Hall's anti-rail or anti-electrification stance is going to change. And really, the Mayors have all been likeminded about this dating back to Kevin White in the 60's (who didn't exactly raise a stink about A-line elimination or the deplorable decay and car shortages on the Green Line in the 70's), if not even earlier than him. The Mayor's office is a powerful bully pulpit for lighting a fire under the MBTA, and they've just been negligent for decades about fighting for as world-class a transit system that reasonable money can buy. Which makes no freaking sense since all these commercial developments that mayors push through as their legacies crucially hinge on accessible transit.

Perhaps part of the reason why the T's mind has been out in suburbia for so many years...those towns' governments and political powers bark a lot harder about improved transit and nitpicky details about transit expansions than the City of Boston does. :(
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Postby jck » Mon Aug 06, 2007 9:26 am

Charliemta wrote:"I'm pretty sure the problem is at the Federal level. I recall reading at one point that BRT either gets priority for funding, or receives more funding than rail expansions."

I disagree. Portland, OR, Seattle and many other cities of comparable size are building many new miles of light rail, and are not building BRT. If they can do it, I'm sure a large city like Boston can.


Without a source to cite, I realize I'm up a creek here. But my contention is not that rail can't get funded, but that the Feds are/were either more willing to fund or willing to commit more funds to BRT than to rail.

I'm certainly not suggesting that BRT is a good idea; frankly, I hate the Silver Line. But the MBTA often chooses the path of least resistance. And if they can get more funding for BRT, that would at least explain (but not justify) the Silver Line.
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Postby ceo » Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:00 pm

Charliemta wrote:That's true, but I still wonder why those cities can get Federal funding for new light rail lines, and not be pressured by the Feds to build BRT instead. Seattle and Portland, OR are each currently building about a dozen new miles of light rail. The line in Seattle is expensive, requiring a lot of tunneling and elevated structures, yet they seem to have obtained light rail funding from the Feds, without Federal pressure to build BRT instead.

This is particularly illustrative when you consider that Seattle had a mile-long downtown bus tunnel already, which they are having to close and completely rebuild in order to put the light rail line through it. [quote]
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