Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

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Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby wicked » Sat May 05, 2012 10:07 pm

With the Big Dig situation I feel our ability to get federal funds for a massive project would be challenging, for at least the next 20 years or more, especially with the population growth slowing in the north. Political might still exists up here, though.

Another question: If you could play fantasy subway and advocate for one new build subway route, regardless of cost and logistics, what would it be? I've always thought a Washington Street-Dudley-Grove Hall-Mattapan line would be intriguing (albeit unlikely, at least in a full build).
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sat May 05, 2012 10:17 pm

I think the most likely is Urban Ring, if that's even on the table anymore.

What I'd really like to see is a connecting between the GLX and Indigo line via Congress St, thus making one long heavy rail line Indigo Line, with a subway under Congress St.



We definitely will see another subway I'd say, given the shift in real estate demand back to the city, but it's a question of when that will actually reach critical mass in order to be forced through.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby The EGE » Sat May 05, 2012 10:38 pm

Urban Ring was a solution looking for a problem. The only section that was really needed was Ruggles - Kenmore - Kendall, and that's the section least likely to get built.

After GLX (so ~2020 for serious planning starting), Lynn, Charles/MGH, and maybe D line to Needham are the obvious projects. I will put my money down that the first completely new line that gets built is either a heavy rail conversion of the Fairmount Line, or a line utilizing the ROW of Route 1 through Everett. Unlike the UR, those are area dependent on transit yet heavily underserved.

Remember, though, that with the exception of a small reroute of the Orange Line in 1987 and the 1963 Government Center tunnel work, there hasn't been new tunnel dug downtown since 1916.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby Arborway » Sat May 05, 2012 10:50 pm

Short Answer: Absolutely - if they rename L.A. "Boston".

Long Answer: No. The city and state both lack the leadership necessary to get rapid transit projects going. They're utterly incapable of making things happen. They're also terribly uninterested in anything that doesn't rhyme with "commuter rail". When things like the Green Line extension, Blue Line to Lynn, Red / Blue connector continually get shelved in favor of $2 billion commuter rail proposals with an estimated daily ridership of 1,000 people... you know it's essentially hopeless. The ideology of those in power - who do not ride transit - means that things are not going to improve until they're out of office.

Subway expansion in Boston is off the table for the foreseeable future. Other cities can hack it, but Boston can't. Those days are over.
Last edited by Arborway on Sat May 05, 2012 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Sat May 05, 2012 11:17 pm

Don't ask me how it could be done,
But I always thought the #1 should be converted to a subway. High ridership crowded streets. Seems like a candidate.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby The EGE » Sun May 06, 2012 1:29 am

Cut-and-cover down Mass Ave, with a new tunnel under the Charles. The problem is, Mass Ave is like the Urban Ring, only missing the best targets. Gives you Hynes instead of Kenmore, Mass Ave instead of Ruggles, and misses Dudley entirely.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun May 06, 2012 7:57 am

Adams_Umass_Boston wrote:Don't ask me how it could be done,
But I always thought the #1 should be converted to a subway. High ridership crowded streets. Seems like a candidate.


This is what I meant by Urban Ring, btw. ^ The actually proposed Urban Ring was a piece of crap. As I would imagine it, the southern half would cover the #1 route from Kendall to Dudley, and perhaps on to Andrew Sq or JFK/Umass.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby CRail » Sun May 06, 2012 10:21 am

The EGE wrote:Remember, though, that with the exception of a small reroute of the Orange Line in 1987 and the 1963 Government Center tunnel work, there hasn't been new tunnel dug downtown since 1916.

What's the Silver Line? I know we disagree with the vehicle mode that uses it, but it's a transit tunnel built way after any of the mentioned dates.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby The EGE » Sun May 06, 2012 12:17 pm

Fair point; I did not consider that. I'm not sure what's a more expensive proposition - a new tunnel through downtown, or a new crossing of the Charles. Either way, a new subway line might have to do both.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun May 06, 2012 1:13 pm

The only places where subways can be built in Boston are:

1) Short stretches of cut-and-cover, under wide streets, and/or outside of the Back Bay landfill.
Examples:
-- Red-Blue (1200 feet of tunnel on a 4-lane, median-divided street, at the base of Beason Hill, hospital side made over by urban renewal)
-- T-under-D on the Transitway...all 1 block of it.
-- Bury E Brigham Circle to Brookline Village as new thru route for D (3000 ft...painful, but Huntington is not as daunting as downtown when it comes to building foundations, density, soil, and trunk utilities like steam heat).
-- Red Line Cabot yard leads to N-S Link rapid transit line via Broadway upper tunnel (1 block under 4-lane Dot Ave. or under Cabot Yard front driveway).
-- Harvard light rail Urban Ring spur to old portal tunnel or bus tunnel (deep-bore under Charles on straight line from west side of Stadium to Brattle Sq. under cleared JFK School walkway).

2) Underneath active rail ROW's where there is little in the way of utilities.
Examples:
-- Red Line to Arlington under Lexington Branch ROW/Minuteman (shallow cut and cover to Mill St., identical construction to Davis-Alewife under Fitchburg Cutoff)
-- N-S Rail Link portal tunnels (cut/cover and deep-bore under 150-years active NEC, Southampton Yard, North Station/Charles).
-- Silver Line Phase III as light rail to SS and/or Washington via Tremont Tunnel and NEC alignment (cut/cover under 150-years active RR)
-- Green Line Union Branch extension to Porter lobby (cut-and-cover under Fitchburg Line, Beacon St.-Mass Ave.)
-- Bury B Line to BU Bridge to feed new Urban Ring/Grand Junction + St. Paul St. portals (cut and cover under 120-years active reservation).
-- Bury E to Brigham Circle (cut and cover under 110-years active reservation).

3) Cleared land w/documented empty space or orderly/fully-documented utilities.
Examples:
-- N-S Link under pre-cleared Big Dig empty space.
-- Tremont Tunnel extension for Silver Line light rail, etc. w/portal to Pike/NEC (2 blocks of mid-60's urban renewal and Mass Pike-reconfigured land...wide streets, few undocumented utilities)
-- Copley Jct. elimination via Tremont Tunnel and under NEC (150-years active RR) or Marginal Rd. (1965-cleared Pike frontage) to Back Bay, reconnect to Huntington tunnel at curve outside Prudential.
-- Blue from Charles to Kenmore as trade-in for eliminating Storrow Dr. (Ashmont-style shallow box tunnel on the old roadbed covered with langscaping, re-use of auto tunnel at Esplanade, short deep-bore from Charlesgate to Kenmore Under).

4) Way far out of downtown in low-density areas.
Examples:
-- Red Line, Mattapan-Readville, etc., cut-and-cover under River St. to 4-tracked Fairmount Line (3500 ft.) or deep-bore straight between Mattapan Sq. and Fairmount Line under 3 blocks of property lines (1500 ft. under small houses with full yards and a church park...less involved than the Porter-Davis tunnel). That's the only applicable outer-neighborhood tunneling I could think of: bringing rapid transit to Westwood/128 or Dedham Ctr. via Ashmont and parallel to the CR tracks to Readville. There's none other that would make any sense.



That's the whole universe of every single thing I could ever think of. Obviously some are more plausible than others and some are more fanciful than others. But you see the themes that emerge in construction viability. We've clearly got no 2nd Ave. Subways to be had here through the heart of downtown. There's not even a Silver Line Phase III per the retarded original plan or any cross-Brookline and Roxbury Urban Ring tunnels per that retarded Phase III plan. Much less that desired Mass Ave. crosstown or a Washington St. subway to replace the El. The street grid is just too old and narrow, filled with God-knows-what 19th century utilities, abutted by sensitive--often historical, often brittle masonry--building foundations, and filled with a lot of silt landfill mush. It's costing NYC billions to build 2nd Ave. and causing all sorts of unforeseen mitigation headaches...and their streets and under-street infrastructure are a lot more orderly than ours. Ain't gonna happen here.

Our under-street options are limited to small infill stretches where the pain threshold can be contained in a couple thousand feet on particularly wide streets that either got bulldozed for urban renewal or contain no tall buildings. Then we have the N-S Link under the Big Dig, which was designed from Day 1 for a lower-level tunnel to be added. And then we have ancient rail ROW's with their very limited underground utilities (because they've been active so long there's been no opportunity to fill up). That last one is probably where we've got the opportunity to do some stuff because those available ROW's get so close to downtown and bisect the city like spokes. The NEC and the yards around NS/SS are where the N-S Link portal tunnels would go. It's where the Orange Line resurfaced when it was relocated. And it's just about the only viable re-route for SL Phase III with the Chinatown plan an utter impossibility. Hell, you could even piggyback an upper-level LRT tunnel on top of the deep-bore N-S Link railroad tunnel to SS as a one-build two-fer, then peel off and hook it into the Transitway. And you could certainly bury the B and reconfigure Kenmore Loop to substitute the billion-dollar Brookline UR tunnel with a zigzag on the B and D via Kenmore to get the same place. I wouldn't get carried away and keep plowing further up Comm Ave...just far enough up to split branches on-level with the GJ and get each branch back up to the surface. Those types of scenarios are sensible re-routes for the real MBTA proposals for direct under-street routes that proved impossible to do with their BRT follies.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby Charliemta » Sun May 06, 2012 6:13 pm

My two top priorities would be:

1) Convert the Green Line Central Subway to heavy rail, using Blue Line cars. Connect the Blue Line to the Green Land as a continuation of the Blue Line through the Central Subway, and on to a new rerouted A Line to Watertown and Waltham, much of it elevated. The B, C, D and E lnes, the Lechmere viaduct and extension to Union Square would remain light rail.

2) A waterfront light rail line along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The part near South Station could run in the Silver Line tunnel that loops at South Station. The light rail line would rise out of a portal near the old Northern Ave bridge, and continue as a surface line along the RKG to North Station. It could connect with the Green Line at its portal near Leverett Circle.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby MBTA3247 » Sun May 06, 2012 8:27 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:-- T-under-D on the Transitway...all 1 block of it.

I have no idea what (or where) you're talking about here. Elaborate, please?

Charliemta wrote:1) Convert the Green Line Central Subway to heavy rail, using Blue Line cars. Connect the Blue Line to the Green Land as a continuation of the Blue Line through the Central Subway, and on to a new rerouted A Line to Watertown and Waltham, much of it elevated. The B, C, D and E lnes, the Lechmere viaduct and extension to Union Square would remain light rail.

Connecting the Blue to the Green would require a whole new subway from Bowdoin to somewhere on the Boylston St Subway. I don't see any way to connect the two at Gov't Center without completely demolishing the existing station and installing a curve like the one at Boylston, which isn't going to happen.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun May 06, 2012 8:39 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:-- T-under-D on the Transitway...all 1 block of it.

I have no idea what (or where) you're talking about here. Elaborate, please?


Silver Line where it emerges above ground, crosses D street, goes through the Manulife Building, and ends at Silver Line Way. T-Under-D is the project name for the 1-block tunnel extension to eliminate that grade crossing.

You know, because they warned and all about this little problem but decided to save a few bucks anyway.
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon May 07, 2012 9:25 am

As I recall, there was resistence to a tunnel under D, for whatever reason. To the point where there were bumper stickers proclaiming "No Tunnel Under D". So I don't think it was the MBTA trying to save, given their record on the whole thing (they spent like 110 million on Courthouse Station alone).
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Re: Will another subway ever be built in Boston?

Postby jonnhrr » Mon May 07, 2012 11:31 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:4) Way far out of downtown in low-density areas.
Examples:
-- Red Line, Mattapan-Readville, etc., cut-and-cover under River St. to 4-tracked Fairmount Line (3500 ft.) or deep-bore straight between Mattapan Sq. and Fairmount Line under 3 blocks of property lines (1500 ft. under small houses with full yards and a church park...less involved than the Porter-Davis tunnel). That's the only applicable outer-neighborhood tunneling I could think of: bringing rapid transit to Westwood/128 or Dedham Ctr. via Ashmont and parallel to the CR tracks to Readville. There's none other that would make any sense.


Wouldn't that require converting Mattapan-Ashmont to Red Line heavy rail standards, which would probably cause major NIMBY opposition in the Milton neighborhoods that it runs through.
Seems like somehow shoehorning Orange line tracks along the NEC to get to Readville might be easier.

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