Salem Station on the Eastern Route Discussion

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

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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby atsf sp » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:58 pm

Once a gain anything that is proposed and will probably happened has been turned into a wild conversation about what we think is best. Let me summarize what you guys have proposed.
The T should 1. Buy land that it does not currently own.
2. Extend service away from a line that is already in place.
3. Build parking garages in different locations other than build a garage at a train station.
4. Find the magic money the T needs for all of this extra buying.

I say this is a great thing for Salem.
1. It stops the major problem of Salem's parking situation for the MBTA.
2. It will allow more parking oppurtuninities in the city of Salem which is growing even more as an evermore important suburb.
3. The area around the station is already becoming an area of development. With the new condos across from the station, the new condos in the old jail, and other construction, this is developing and a new garage will further the area.
4. If anyone wants to complain about views being disrupted, the view that will be disrupted will be that of a junkyard across the river.
5. The community is happy about the project, yet people on here are critical.
6. How could the T expand bus services when they are at max operation of the fleet and would have to establish new lines that would be unprofitable at the begining at a time T is already strapped for cash? People want to do what they already do and that is drive to a commuter railroad because you can't walk from peabody easily to get to the stop.
7. If anyone argues about the roundhouse/turntable means the project should end is crazy. It has been under a parking lot for years, there are many of these remanants around. The salem roundhaouse was like all others and no true special. People living in Salem for years did not even realize it was there. And if anyone is worried about this archaelogical/historical dig dont because it is state protocal.

I'm not trying to start a fight, just stating the basic facts.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:53 pm

atsf sp wrote:1. It stops the major problem of Salem's parking situation for the MBTA.
2. It will allow more parking oppurtuninities in the city of Salem which is growing even more as an evermore important suburb.

By inducing more traffic demand in a should-be walkable downtown that already has congestion issues? OK...fair enough, if it matters that much. But where are the better bus connections, and why a money sink here and Beverly before somewhere, anywhere accessible to 128? How does that further downtown development or divert traffic off the roads at the source? Priorities, priorities, priorities.
3. The area around the station is already becoming an area of development. With the new condos across from the station, the new condos in the old jail, and other construction, this is developing and a new garage will further the area.

Huh? Those residents are going to drive across the street to catch the train? That's a walkability, bus connection, and municipal parking issue. Not a suburban park-and-ride. Traffic on 1A and 114 are not commuting to condos to commute to Boston. If downtown Salem is one giant slab of TOD, why is the station bunkering itself in with the cars? It's not that the garage doesn't have its merits, but the downtown development and TOD ties are muddled at best. Muddled purpose doesn't make for efficient use of resources. But we're way beyond efficiency here and into farce with how much these overruns have racked up and how much it's had to be downsized.
4. If anyone wants to complain about views being disrupted, the view that will be disrupted will be that of a junkyard across the river.

I don't think anyone's complaining so long as Salem remembers this. If they start bitching about aesthetics and it blocking their view of Venus, then we're being taken for another ride by suburban political factions with grabby-hands and the state's willingness to capitulate to those at any cost. This is death by thousand cuts. The pattern they've fallen into with mitigation on these builds is lunacy. The skepticism is well-warranted.
5. The community is happy about the project, yet people on here are critical.

The community wasn't happy until it whined its way into mommy and daddy buying it a pony in the form of heated shelters. What other suburban commuter rail stations in this state have expensive heated shelters? See point above on political special-interest coddling and cumulative effects of all that bloat.
6. How could the T expand bus services when they are at max operation of the fleet and would have to establish new lines that would be unprofitable at the begining at a time T is already strapped for cash? People want to do what they already do and that is drive to a commuter railroad because you can't walk from peabody easily to get to the stop.

Why haven't they controlled the price bloat on this or reined in the contractors? Isn't this a major part of the problem as to why they're broke? When did "We're broke" become this universal solvent for ducking all responsibility to run a competent operation. This is why people are mad as hell.
7. If anyone argues about the roundhouse/turntable means the project should end is crazy. It has been under a parking lot for years, there are many of these remanants around. The salem roundhaouse was like all others and no true special. People living in Salem for years did not even realize it was there. And if anyone is worried about this archaelogical/historical dig dont because it is state protocal.

They LIED about it. That is the problem. The roundhouse was a standing building until the mid-70's. This was not a turn-of-century remnant with lost documentation. The foundation remnants were visible until the parking lot was paved over it for the 1987 station opening. They performed an EIS when they built the 1987 station and parking lot. Are we seriously to believe that no one could've ever predicted this, or that no one consulted 25-year-old records? Or that no one in Salem remembered a big roundhouse building there visible to all on Bridge St. and to all commuter rail riders coming out the tunnel portal? Look at that Historic Aerials link I posted on the last page and explain to me how this could've escaped anyone's notice. They draft-EIS'd this years ago. It's impossible to do an EIS without documenting damn straight what structures were on the property in history recent enough for every middle-aged local to remember. This is corruption, pure and simple.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Tracer » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:28 pm

Speaking of digging up old roundhouses, when they were building the new Whitman train station they stumbled upon an old roundhouse foundation. I believe the parking lot was supposed to continue over it, but instead they saved it and built a neat park out of it.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Elcamo » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:48 am

Matthew wrote:You are making a false comparison. The options are parking lot (1970s style solution) or development of the downtown Salem area (21st century solution). Pullman coaches and overnight service have nothing to do with this discussion. Rinus Oosthoek said that "bigger parking lots" are more modern. I have challenged that claim.

It seems that the MBTA is trying to have it both ways. In the plans, they are clearly attempting to address pedestrian and bus access to the facility, as well as its integration with the surrounding urban area. On the other hand, they are going to build and subsidize 553 parking spaces in an expensive garage.

Personally, I think they would be better off reducing the number of parking spaces and focusing that money on better bus service to the surrounding area. Why? Because parking lots are the weakest and least effective way of generating ridership. The amount of land and resources that goes into storing 500+ stationary automobiles for 8-10 hours a day is far too high. The costs of this project will never be recovered by serving a mere 500 commuters. Adding a level won't do it either. Parking lots should only be employed in areas where land is cheap. The infrastructure required to support parking also has negative side effects on other modes that have the potential to bring large numbers of riders into the station without costing the MBTA much money: walking, bicycling and buses. There are already bus routes that serve the area, these should be strengthened and expanded. The station itself should aim for minimal land usage because that land is valuable and can generate more revenue when put to commercial uses other than merely serving as paved open space.


I don't see how the mbta will lose customers who walk, bike or take the bus to the station already if they build this garage. If anything, they'll gain more commuters who don't want to or cannot walk/ride to the station as it makes driving via car more feasible. There is no way that this will canabilize other methods of getting there, as the project aims to attract people who would never take the bus in due to it's poor reputation (too slow, noisy, crowded, dirty). Better bus routes aren't comparable to the construction of the garage, as there are few people who'd even consider riding them for commuting in the first place. (At least here in Danvers) If you're looking for improvements that don't involve a parking garage or bigger lot, then commuter rail service to downtown peabody and the northshore mall is the answer, not increased bus use.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Elcamo » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:52 am

jbvb wrote:If there was any chance that this money could be spent on extending service to Peabody and Rt. 128 by the North Shore Mall on the old Salem & Lowell roadbed, that's where it should go...


I agree 100%, there's no reason why a similar amount of money allocated for south coast rail couldn't be applied to the north side. (Repair the aging bridges, extend blue line to central square lynn, commuter service to downtown peabody and the north shore mall, a south salem station, ect.)
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:55 am

Elcamo wrote:it makes driving via car more feasible


That's the problem.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Elcamo » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:45 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:
Elcamo wrote:it makes driving via car more feasible


That's the problem.


How else are most of the people in the surrounding towns (outskirts of Peabody, and the town of Danvers) supposed to get to the station though? Unless they plan on expanding rail to Peabody sooner than later, then I don't see how else they can attract these commuters.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:21 am

Elcamo wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:
Elcamo wrote:it makes driving via car more feasible


That's the problem.


How else are most of the people in the surrounding towns (outskirts of Peabody, and the town of Danvers) supposed to get to the station though? Unless they plan on expanding rail to Peabody sooner than later, then I don't see how else they can attract these commuters.


That's where this all falls apart. The garage doesn't work in a vacuum because alone it's an car induced demand trap. The Big Dig Transit Commitments for the North Shore were the garages at Wonderland, Salem, and Beverly, and completing the North Shore Transit Improvements study. Fine...they're in compliance for those. Well, the commitment to complete the Improvements study was with expectation that they'd actually implement some of the top recommendations. They haven't, and seem to have zero intention of doing so beyond these garages law-bound by the Big Dig commitments and the revamped Rockport layover. Zilch is being done or sought to improve frequencies by solving the traffic bottlenecks: single-track mitigation around the tunnel, single-track on most of the Newburyport Branch, the grade crossing hell in Chelsea. They aren't even keeping up with deferred maintenance given the drawbridge and signals situation. If the branchline service can't improve, people are going to drive the extra distance to swarm the mainline garages. They aren't upgrading the stations beyond these Salem, Beverly, and Rockport projects. They've given up on Peabody and diverting the 128 park-and-riders there instead of having them choke the local roads to get to Salem and Beverly. They've given up on the Blue Line to Lynn (the #1 rec of all); that means Wonderland garage is fated to be overwhelmed in no time by cars, with unchecked increases in car reliance upstream. They're doing nothing about access to southern Salem and Salem State U via new South Salem Station; the bus access is poor, so that requires people within town to get in their cars from as little as 2 miles away to clog the garage entrance. And they're doing nothing--except proposing mass route cuts--about the bus coverage on the whole North Shore, which is almost entirely centered on 12 highway traffic-choked express routes out of Lynn and Salem that get more dysfunctional the worse 1A gets.

These were supposed to be single components of a whole array of service and access improvements. And yes, they were expensive to do. But that's why it's important to keep chipping away at the planning over pressure and time, have their act together, and be able to tackle them incrementally. Each improvement matters, but giving up and doing a public cut-and-run means there's no chance of them happening next decade either. What we're left with is imbalance: car-oriented sites that are going to quickly get overwhelmed and overwhelm the limited road capacity heading downtown. And no service improvements to actually mitigate this congestion. I think downtown Salem is going to be dismayed by the line of cars backing up out the driveway onto Bridge St. in short order. I think they're going to be dismayed at how few spaces they'll have to themselves when the extra out-of-town traffic coming down 114 and 107 off 128 grabs all the extra spaces at crack-of-dawn, and how quickly induced car demand brings the parking problems roaring back. I think they'll be sorely disappointed that the project downsizing shot most chance of TOD at the site in favor of an auto bunker in the heart of downtown. And they're pissed off now about getting punked on service improvements and quite likely losing a lot of their already inadequate bus coverage. It was not part of the downtown-as-destination revival plan to make it a bigger carpark sink. But that's what happens when a would-be multifaceted solution gets abandoned after a single one-dimensional component. The whole transit vision for the area was never supposed to hinge solely on this, solely on increasing car capacity.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Matthew » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:05 pm

Elcamo wrote:I don't see how the mbta will lose customers who walk, bike or take the bus to the station already if they build this garage. If anything, they'll gain more commuters who don't want to or cannot walk/ride to the station as it makes driving via car more feasible. There is no way that this will canabilize other methods of getting there, as the project aims to attract people who would never take the bus in due to it's poor reputation (too slow, noisy, crowded, dirty). Better bus routes aren't comparable to the construction of the garage, as there are few people who'd even consider riding them for commuting in the first place. (At least here in Danvers) If you're looking for improvements that don't involve a parking garage or bigger lot, then commuter rail service to downtown peabody and the northshore mall is the answer, not increased bus use.


It is well established that parking lots are dangerous and repellent to pedestrians. There's cars moving from every direction -- and nothing but flat empty space. No reason to walk there. Building massive parking lots surrounding a train station is like putting up a billboard that says: "Walking not allowed." Then there are the induced car congestion effects mentioned by F-line.

We've had over half a century of experience paving over Boston and other cities to build highways and parking lots. It should be abundantly clear what happens when you do so: the traffic gets worse. Even by the 60s the so-called fundamental "law" of highway congestion had been observed: "It is impossible to build your way out of congestion." Recent studies confirm this theory.

If your buses are bad, then fix them. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with buses, except they get stuck in traffic. But so do the cars driving to the parking lot. Spending dozens of millions of dollars to build a subsidized parking structure for 500 people limits your ridership to 500 people, and puts 500 cars on those roads every weekday. Putting that money into improved bus service means potentially unbounded ridership, since it is much easier to increase the number of buses than to add more levels to a parking garage.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Wingnut » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:54 pm

The T has long needed more parking at Salem. One of my questions is, why didn't the T acquire the property on the east side of the station which was an abandoned industrial site for decades instead of letting it become a residential development? Well, let me amend that...why didn't that residential development, good from a TOD point of view, include a parking component for commuters?
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Elcamo » Mon May 07, 2012 10:55 pm

When will construction begin on the new station/garage?
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby Arborwayfan » Tue May 08, 2012 10:15 am

Capital and operating money come from different accounts, are approved by different processes, and last for different amounts of time. So in this case the T actually can't spend the bus garage money on bus service, because it's politically and procedurally easier to get money for capital improvements. Moreover, it's more exciting to build something new than to fix something old, and it's easier to understand what the benefits will be. None of this is necessarily right, but it is true, partly by law and partly by who lobbies for what.

Think of all the museums you've been in with three nice entrances, two of which are closed to save money on staff. It's the same basic effect: overspending on new capital and underspending on maintenance, replacement, and operations.

And yep, as several people have said, US planners cater to cars, even the ones in Massachusetts who really are much more pro transit than most parts of the country. (People on this board complain about the T and car-crazy Mass a lot. Try Indiana.)
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby The EGE » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:54 pm

One thing about this garage that appears to be good: it looks like it has been designed not to block the future possibility of a Peabody/Danvers branch.

This 2009 map indicates the presence of a defined easement for the branch line.

This is one of the MBTA's most recent renderings, from this June. I've marked the approximate location of the easement.

Image

Still a pair of awkward grade crossings in the parking lot - of one which could be eliminated pretty easily - but the ROW is preserved.

That same aerial makes it look as though the platform may not stretch all the way to the portal mouth, thus (as F-line detailed a page back) preserving the possibility of double-tracking the station.

It's still not what should be done - the real priority should have been the branch. But when the Beverly and Salem garages fill up and demonstrate just how much demand is out there, just maybe a serious look will be made at taking advantage of a certain former branch line that just happens to pass near acres of parking right off 128.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:33 pm

But what do you do with the platform for the Danvers/Peabody Branch? Eliminate the parking area on the inside of the curve and put it there? Seems to be the only way that fits. But then trains/gates will block the entrance road to get into the area and to the garage.
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Re: New Salem Station Plans Mostly Well Received

Postby The EGE » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:04 pm

Yeah, that little parking area can probably go. There's about 500 feet of space between the portal entrance and the road. Even including the locomotive, there should be sufficient room to platform 5 cars (=425 feet) without blocking the road.

5 cars is probably sufficient for a short-turn hitting Danvers, Peabody, Salem, South Salem, Swampscott, Lynn, and Chelsea. The branch would also be a candidate for MU service a decade or two down the line.
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