Newburyport Line extension

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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:35 pm

I grew up with the old Eastern to Newburyport. As of 1936, it was double track Northey Point to Portsmouth. Nothing encroaches on that between North Beverly and the current Newburyport station. At Hamilton/Wenham and Ipswich, the current track is on the old easterly RoW. It remains there through the curve past the bank, and on to Newburyport. The current track moves from one side to the other several times between the End of Double Track at North Beverly and the Ipswich River bridge; this is evident from the MoW access road on the other roadbed. The Rowley station was built for a second track on the west side of the current platform.

Ipswich already has a long passing siding. There's a longer siding between Hay St. and Rt. 1 in Newbury, which I don't think has ever been used for a scheduled meet. The design of the Newburyport station allows the siding to be extended east. Going nearly to Low St. would give excellent operational flexibility without stopping trains near any residences.

From Parker St. to Merrimack St. in Newburyport, the RoW is three or more tracks wide. From Merrimack St. to Rt. 110 in Salisbury, it's 2 tracks. On that part, it's quite practical to give the RR 20 feet and the bike path 10, but there will be complaints. But as has been said, none of the existing trail was done with any thought to co-existing with a revived railroad.

Now that I'm retired, I plan to walk the RoW east from Salisbury once it's frozen enough I won't return covered in ticks. Some 85 lb. rail is still in the woods west of the nuke in Seabrook, but I think everything else is gone. I haven't looked into why Seabrook didn't daylight their underpasses, but it might have something to do with keeping trucks from short-cutting through the residential part of town.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Watchman318 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:50 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:
Watchman318 wrote:The removal of the former bridge over Rt. 1 north of Salisbury Square kinda squashed that, for rail travel anyway. I suppose pedestrians and bicyclists could cross the road "at grade," but I think Rt. 1 was 40 MPH through there. I could be mistaken about that.

Why does the prospect of one grade crossing "squash" the potential for rail service? There are dozens of grade crossings on the Eastern Route. If the T can't afford to build a new overpass there (they'd probably have to completely rebuild an old one by this point anyway), it wouldn't be difficult to regrade the ROW and cross route 1 at-grade.
You could be right, but I think it would have to be a new bridge. (See bottom quote, from F-line.)

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:There's a couple of places where structurally unsound or extremely low-clearance bridges were removed. Embankments are still there at Route 1 in Salisbury. Definitely too steep for a trail head by the looks of it on Google Street View, but appears to have been a low-clearance bridge back in the day.
It was, and rather narrow, too, as I recall.
I had forgotten about the one on Rt. 110 (Elm St.) Salisbury. That had been an at-grade crossing until the 1920's, maybe. Built to the standards of those days, it was basically just kind of a hump on the roadway.
I think after all these years, a rail/highway crossing at any of those locations would be considered a "new" crossing. I don't know if MA has a law like ME does, which says any new crossings have to be grade-separated.

I assume in a rail restoration scenario a new bridge goes in here, because the difference in grades between ROW and road is too big for a grade crossing. Look like it would be a relatively trivial production to do.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:28 am

The former Rt. 1 overpass E. of Salisbury had adequate clearance, but it put somewhat of an S-bend in the road with reduced visibility for the side streets that enter on either side of the RR embankment. I think it was accidents involving traffic entering Rt. 1 that led Mass. DOT to remove it. Near downtown, Rt. 110 and Mudnock Rd. both had old-style steep hump overpasses. A new Rt. 110 overpass would significantly impact a couple of local businesses, unless the RR was cut down 6-8 feet. Mudnock Rd. might be better off being cut, if cul-de-sacs are still in fashion when this work is ever begun.

Actually, one of the passenger service pluses for the old Eastern is the relatively small number of grade crossings (it goes straight through marsh or what was very rural territory in 1843, where Rt. 1 and Rt. 1A go through the towns). Newburyport only has two, Salisbury none, Seabrook one, Hampton Falls, Hampton, North Hampton none, Rye maybe one, Portsmouth a couple. Most of the busy crossings were grade-separated between 1907 and 1950.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:19 am

Watchman318 wrote:I think after all these years, a rail/highway crossing at any of those locations would be considered a "new" crossing. I don't know if MA has a law like ME does, which says any new crossings have to be grade-separated.


They don't. Restoration on the Stoughton Branch for South Coast Rail will retain all grade crossings on the former line except for Route 138 in Raynham (to-be rail bridged) where the former crossing was at too-sharp an angle for a high- speed limit state road. And the southern half of the Greenbush Line past Cohasset that was abandoned in ('62?) and not covered under landbanking statute like the 1986-abandoned north half retained all its former crossings except for the brand new roadways around Greenbush station.

Washington St., Newburyport is probably the only one the locals would mildly kvetch about. But 113 on the next block to the south is an underpass and Merrimac on the next block north is an overpass, so the grade probably can't change enough to separate (and road bridge probably isn't possible with the abutting driveways). But it's a very low-volume road on what I assume would be the station approach for a downtown station so that one probably isn't a big deal. Like I said, dangle the Route 1 road diet carrot in front of downtown as a package deal and they get more amenable to rail in a hurry.

The rest of the non-Merrimack crossing line is so well grade-separated it doesn't matter. Doesn't cross a single thoroughfare at-grade, and the last 4-1/2 miles in southernmost sticks of Portsmouth on the ongoing-abandonment section have more grade crossings (5) than all the rest of the 15 miles from Newburyport combined.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Watchman318 » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:31 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
Watchman318 wrote:I think after all these years, a rail/highway crossing at any of those locations would be considered a "new" crossing. I don't know if MA has a law like ME does, which says any new crossings have to be grade-separated.

They don't.
Actually, there is one: MGL Ch. 160, Sec. 97. But that says the county commissioners and dept. of highways can "authorize a crossing at the same level as provided in section one hundred and two." Sec. 102 says that the commissioners/highway dept. "may adjudge that public necessity requires the crossing at the same level," which might be what's going on with the other places you mentioned.

Washington St., Newburyport is probably the only one the locals would mildly kvetch about. But 113 [High St.] on the next block to the south is an underpass and Merrimac on the next block north is an overpass, so the grade probably can't change enough to separate (and road bridge probably isn't possible with the abutting driveways). But it's a very low-volume road on what I assume would be the station approach for a downtown station so that one probably isn't a big deal. Like I said, dangle the Route 1 road diet carrot in front of downtown as a package deal and they get more amenable to rail in a hurry.
"Washington St. grade crossing gates made automatic about 1951. 1887 brick/stone station on RH (Winter St. side) E of Washington St (burned circa 1968)." (Copied from JBVB's page cited below.) Winter St. is a one-way from Merrimac to High St., between US 1 and the r-o-w. (Shows as "Rt. 1A" on Street View.) Looks like a bunch of townhouses along that stretch now.

Low St. in Newburyport went under the track at what was called "Guinea Bridge." (I have no idea where that name came from.) I finally managed to get a street view of it, and I think the abutments or the rail-trail bridge are new, and are back further from the edge of the street than the ones for the RR overpass were. The height of the trail bridge is way better than the railroad overpass was, but I think the trail bridge would have to be changed out for something that would support trains. That should only cost a coupla' million or so. ;-)
The Merrimac St. overpass looks like the original plate girder structure.

JBVB knows the territory, dates, etc. in that area much better than I do. (I only hung around the Clipper City from about 1969-1974.) I just discovered (or rediscovered) his page <http://www.faracresfarm.com/jbvb/rr/bmrr/layout.html>.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:07 pm

Newburyport lost their chance for a downtown station in 1996, when they requested the current location and then let the condos be built on the old site. Newburyport is an outlier in how little attention they pay to the station - no city map, no sidewalk to it, no effort to even put volunteer greeters in the unused station building on summer weekends.

Guinea Bridge over Low St. was maybe 11' clearance and no more than 20' between abutments. I photographed it long ago, but haven't been able to find the prints/negatives in years. Newburyport wanted it gone ASAP to make Low St. a truck route. My friend was the Nbpt. city planner at the time, and he worked on the replacement bridge design the MBTA required before they'd give permission. The rail trail footbridge was designed with no consideration of rail restoration, and I'd guess they'd ignore the old design in favor of something new combining rail & trail.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Watchman318 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:57 pm

jbvb wrote:Newburyport lost their chance for a downtown station in 1996, when they requested the current location and then let the condos be built on the old site.
Okay, I thought that was where it used to be. I don't think I've been on Winter St. in 20+ years, but seem to recall a bar (possibly called "The Flying Yankee"?) in that area years ago, too. "Gentrification" strikes again.

My friend was the Nbpt. city planner at the time, and he worked on the replacement bridge design the MBTA required before they'd give permission. The rail trail footbridge was designed with no consideration of rail restoration, and I'd guess they'd ignore the old design in favor of something new combining rail & trail.
I didn't think that footbridge's substructure looked much like something that might someday be suitable for supporting a modern railroad bridge. If the T specified the design, why did they allow something so "lightweight"? Seems like more of the old "oh, trains will never use that line again" stuff that's hobbled restoration of service in so many other places. :(
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:41 am

Watchman318 wrote:If the T specified the design, why did they allow something so "lightweight"? Seems like more of the old "oh, trains will never use that line again" stuff that's hobbled restoration of service in so many other places. :(


If it's anything like the Cape Cod Rail Trail bridges on the anciently-abandoned Down Cape portion that MassDOT owns, the default spec was that the abutments have to be strong enough to take a rail bridge but the deck itself can be a flimsy ped bridge. Now, those restored spans were across state highways and not local roads, so the jurisdiction is a lot different than a town that doesn't give a crap. So long as the Pond St. deck can be swapped out for something that handles real rail weights on the existing abutments, they can do whatever they please to no harm to rail future-proofing. The Route 128 add-a-lane project is provisioning similar for the abandoned Needham Line overpass near Highland Ave. Double-track width rail abutments are going up on the sides and the median's going to be widened for plunking center support columns. But they cut the actual deck from the design (was originally planned before the abandonment was processed, so now the omission's just a cost-saver). Should the rail trail need to come across they can drop as flimsy a ped overpass as they want on those overbuilt abutments, so long as the decks can be replaced by a proper bridge should...say...the long sought-after Green Line Needham branch ever miraculously come to fruition. That provisioning is why the new abutments are double the width of the old ones that'll be torn down next year when they start the Needham-Wellesley final portion of the add-a-lane.


Now, eyesight alone on Google Street View is no judge of the load-bearing strength of bridge abutments...but that concrete at Pond St. looks overbuilt for a ped bridge. I doubt there'd be too much issue with a deck swap in the event of restoration...although they clearly cheaped out making the abutments single-track instead of DT. Although single track's really not an issue in that constrained an area. For a Portsmouth extension the DT would probably be infilled contiguously from N. Bev to where it currently picks back up past Hay St. in Newbury through to the end of the current line, and then would really only need to alternate between single and passing sidings north of the current stop. It's sparse density and tangent would-be 79 MPH track. The meets would be widely-spaced enough with such zippy freight-free track and wide stop spacing that contiguous DT into New Hampshire would be overkill for the max frequencies demand's going to merit.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby NH2060 » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:18 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Now, eyesight alone on Google Street View is no judge of the load-bearing strength of bridge abutments...but that concrete at Pond St. looks overbuilt for a ped bridge. I doubt there'd be too much issue with a deck swap in the event of restoration...although they clearly cheaped out making the abutments single-track instead of DT. Although single track's really not an issue in that constrained an area. For a Portsmouth extension the DT would probably be infilled contiguously from N. Bev to where it currently picks back up past Hay St. in Newbury through to the end of the current line, and then would really only need to alternate between single and passing sidings north of the current stop. It's sparse density and tangent would-be 79 MPH track. The meets would be widely-spaced enough with such zippy freight-free track and wide stop spacing that contiguous DT into New Hampshire would be overkill for the max frequencies demand's going to merit.

If they do put the 2nd track in they'll have to also re-align the existing single track from just north of the culvert that crosses over that little stream south of Hay St. to where Track 2 swings out just north of Hay St.

Now what would they have to do to get the max speed up to 90 or above on any section? 79mph is rather wasted on -what is for the most part- such an incredibly straight ROW. North of the Rte. 1A bridge in Ipswich where the straightway begins there are only 7 grade crossings, 1 of which is next to the Rowley station and 5 of which are on very low traffic roads/lanes/private drives, etc. Hanover St. in Newburyport is probably the busiest of all of them. Not so sure they could do the same once the tracks cross over the river since the Salisbury-Portsmouth segment traverses more densely populated areas then Ipswich-Newburyport. The more major thoroughfares are bridged across the ROW and every other grade crossing appears to be @ more of the same low traffic streets so idk perhaps that could be all that's need help boost max speed. The difference in time savings might not be much, but it could at very least allow for some padding in the schedules to let any delayed train make up some time.

OTOH I don't know how residents in some of the neighborhoods would feel about 90mph trains zipping (in some cases) literally right behind their backyards.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Watchman318 » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:51 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:If it's anything like the Cape Cod Rail Trail bridges on the anciently-abandoned Down Cape portion that MassDOT owns, the default spec was that the abutments have to be strong enough to take a rail bridge but the deck itself can be a flimsy ped bridge.
Okay, got it. Thanks.

Side note: I'm pretty sure it's Pond St. east of Rt. 1, but Low St. west of the intersection. Couldn't see any street signs, but the mailbox for the house east of the overpass says "14 Low." {/end quibble}
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:04 am

Low St. starts at the Rt. 1 traffic light. Most of what the Eastern beyond N. Beverly needs for 90 MPH is ATS or PTS. And if they just quietly install PTS between Hamilton - Wenham, Ipswich and Newburyport and increase speeds where alignment allows without a big PR photo op, nobody would notice. I believe 79 MPH is already allowed on the long straights, but 90 might not be worth doing from the Appleton Farms curve to Ipswich. Ipswich to the Rt. 1A overpass is always going to be slow. North of Newburyport, there are no busy grade crossings and not a lot of houses really close to the RoW (because few grade crossings); if they didn't make a lot of noise about the speed, once they got the trains running in the first place, speed changes would not generate much excitement.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby newpylong » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:49 pm

What are you going to run at 90 mph when most of the equipment's max speed is 79?
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:23 pm

newpylong wrote:What are you going to run at 90 mph when most of the equipment's max speed is 79?


You don't. The last feasibility study had travel time to/from Portsmouth and North Station making all existing stops with 4 new intermediate stops at Salisbury, Seabrook, Hampton, and N. Hampton clocking in 1:31. That's less than Worcester and Fitchburg do today. If anything needs to be sped up it's pushing the Eastern Route mainline speeds up...zap some Chelsea grade crossings, fix the movable bridge speed restrictions, signaling, etc. Beverly-Newburyport takes only 30 minutes for 5 stops, but North Station-Lynn eats up 22 mins. for 2 regular stops and 1 flag stop because of the godawful slow track in Chelsea. That's where you improve it...pushing speeds to 50-60 where they're mired in the low-30's, not spending a fortune trying to push existing tangent 79 MPH higher.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby nomis » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:31 pm

And some of the Chelsea area fixes would come if Silver Line to Chelsea happens.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:46 pm

nomis wrote:And some of the Chelsea area fixes would come if Silver Line to Chelsea happens.


The Silver Line to Chelsea is happening, but there will be no grade crossing removals.
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