Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:41 pm

Big Update on GLX Phase II (from College Ave to a new terminus at Mystic Valley Parkway)

The deal was that they were taking $169m of Federal CMAQ money from 2017 - 2022, that had been earmarked for the MVP terminus, and reallocated it to cover overruns in Phase I of the GLX (Lechmere - Union Sq/Collge Ave)

This was a good deal all around, really:
- Pushing MVP into phase II was better than letting NIMBYs kill it.
- Delay will allow the NIMBYs to age-out of the neighborhood and be replaced by pro-transit newcomers; persuadable NIMBYs will hopefully see the GLX open and be won over as converts.
- Unreaslistic to think they coulda spent the $169m until Phase I was underway
- Once College Ave is open everything should lock quickly into place for MVP

As part of this deal, two things were promised:
1) That Federal CMAQ money beyond 2022 (say, 2022 to 2027) would be earmarked to constructing the tracks and new terminal at Mystic Valley Parkway (on the Somerville / Medford line on parcels mostly owned by Tufts)

2) That in 2017 to 2022 planning and design would continue on the MVP station so that it would be "shovel ready" in 2022
So they have, in fact, delivered on the planning for 2017, delivering a 124 Page PDF as a Notice of Project Change(just today) and planning hearings for November 2017.

The biggest change that I can see is simply that the MVP terminus has been subjected to the same value engineering that, in the rest of the GLX, resulted in barrier-free, single-level station with a minimum of structure and shelter.

The NPC summarizes the design changes like this (bolding is mine)
MassDOT and the MBTA recently reevaluated the conceptual design of the proposed Mystic ValleyvParkway Station to match the recent design changes proposed for the Green Line Extension fromvLechmere Station to College Avenue, as well as to minimize property impacts.

As described in thevJanuary 2017 NPC for the core Project, many of the station design elements were modified to reducevanticipated costs while maintaining core functionality and benefits. MassDOT and the MBTA propose the following changes to the conceptual design of Mystic Valley Parkway Station:

Lower Green Line tracks from Commuter Rail level to street level to provide full platform access via a single-story terminal station. This redesign would eliminate the need for elevators, escalators, and stairs in this location, and reduce long-term station life-cycle and maintenance costs.
Replace the canopy with multiple pre-fabricated weather shelters along the station platform.
• Construct pedestrian grade crossings for access to the low-level platforms.
Increase capacity for bicycle parking to 120 spaces in a secure storage enclosure (a “pedal & park” facility.)
Remove all customer parking from the station design.
Add an electrical substation (location to be determined) to provide additional traction power capacity, identified by the Green Line Extension Project since the 2009 DEIR.
Shift station access drive north to reduce impacts to an adjacent business located at 200 Boston Avenue in Medford.(Approximately 84 surface parking spaces at 196 and 200 Boston Avenue could be impacted by the
proposed improvements, which would be replaced at a location to be determined.)

Last edited by Arlington on Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:18 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby BandA » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:06 pm

No parking means no one outside the neighborhood can use the station that we are all paying for.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:48 pm

What parking demand exists at these stops? This is an extremely residential corridor with heavy existing transit share and lots of crisscrossing bus routes, on thoroughfares dominated by neighborhood traffic not interlopers from further out. The "Beyond Lechmere" studies documented that to the nines. There's no parking specced for the stations because the audience overwhelmingly isn't a Pn'R audience. Just like Porter and Davis weren't built for Pn'R audiences while completely-different dynamic Alewife was.


"WHARR!! Taxpayer ripoff!" doesn't cut it left hanging out there as unattributed red meat. There were deeply articulated reasons why each of the stops did not justify parking installations, and if you're going to make that blanket claim you need to be prepared to provide some hard counterpointing evidence to back it up.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:35 am

BandA wrote:No parking means no one outside the neighborhood can use the station that we are all paying for.

It's no different from the rest of the GLX.

You are welcome to ride the 80 or 94 bus, to bike in on the parkways, (easy once you've gotten to Wedgmere via Tri-community Greenway from Woburn/Stoneham/Winchester now under construction) and park your bike at the enlarged bike cage they'll be adding at MVP, or if cars are a must, to be dropped off by a friend or a driver.

I would also hope that we eventually see a rework of the 135/6 325/6 and similar longer distance buses to feed the GLX (and tag Davis Sq) I would like to see the 80 go to Arlington Heights, and a new bus do Roosevelt Cir - Lawrence Memorial - Tufts -Davis.

I also suspect that if there were a parking garage, it would represent an oversized net subsidy to drivers, or simply distort further the messed up road balance in the area.

If you live in a town that wants to park and ride, I'd say your town should build it right there, an intercept demand before it clogs roads with a lot of driving. Live in Winchester? Time for the town to pony up for a structure at Wedgemere or the Center.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby rethcir » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:33 am

Mystic Valley Parkway is also already a traffic cluster during rush hour and even on weekends, mile long backups not uncommon approaching 93 and 2.

Also, Alewife exists and it’s what, 2 miles away?
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby rethcir » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:35 am

If MVP station is at street level, that more or less eliminates the chance of an extension to West Medford right? I a, aware of the historic nature of the stone bridge that makes it challenging,
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:11 pm

rethcir wrote:If MVP station is at street level, that more or less eliminates the chance of an extension to West Medford right? I a, aware of the historic nature of the stone bridge that makes it challenging,


Yup, it is pretty clear that West Medford (and points beyond) have missed their rapid transit moment. I think we would have needed 80/20 split in favor of it to get it across a new bridge into West Medford. Neighbors in 2005 ~ 2009 were, at best, 60/40, and the 40 were long-timers way better wired at City Hall and would begin their public testimony by playing the tenure card "I've lived here 30 years...", while the 60 were all housing-bubble newcomers. MVP was maybe 70/30 (but too many were students and not politically active at all) and so MVP's supporters chose cryogenic freezing to death in around 2011 ~ 2014. I'm just thrilled that we appear to be on track for thawing in 2022.

The rapid transit extension spotlight is like a lighthouse with a 50-year rotation. If you don't get built while the searchlight is touching you, it's 50 years before it comes back (about when the useful life of the prior generation has been reached) That's why I consider MVP lucky to have gotten grandfathered into the GLX.

And so the money and the political consensus run out in a little peninsula of Somerville, the same way that the Red got no further than Cambridge, and the Orange got no further than Malden.

West Medford (Green), Arlington (Red) and Melrose (Orange) all said "pass" not just for themselves but for at least a half century as a mix of car-content single-family home NIMBYs living in neighborhoods of decreasing density make it not worth going onward (especially since at the next stop beyond promised only a neighborhood of even lower density and higher NIMBY sentiment)

For most places skipped (or taking a pass, in the cases I cite), the best "off cycle" opportunity is the NSRL and electrification of their commuter rail, which we'll have to discuss in another thread.

Or, ground-level tracks might just get you across the MVP but not the river and let the Green Line run on the margins of the MVP to Summer St in Arlington or to Clarendon Hill (87/88 terminus on Broadway) on the Somerville-Arlington line. Crazy Transit Pitch? Sure! But at least you'd have political support (and potential ridership) in a way that is less far fetched than if you thought that pushing the Green out to Winchester was going to change land use and commuting patterns there. Winchester, Belmont, & Melrose will, in our lifetimes, get NSRL or nothing. Lexington is screwed for 100 years or more.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:30 pm

I don't think it eliminates the chance forever, because you can always dust off the original plans and relocate the station back up on the embankment if need be. This is hardly any sort of grand structure being built down at street level. But once West Medford backed out of the original extension, they pretty much blew their chance for 30 years of getting any further action. So even the original station design on the embankment did little to compel a reach across the river, despite its plug-and-play design compatibility with that. For one, West Med commuter rail's ridership is going to crater bigtime if MVP is built as ridership migrates down the street to the higher frequencies. Commuter rail doesn't have much of a hook when the buses there touch rapid transit @ MVP, College Ave., and Davis and are likely to see a huge increase in Route 94 frequencies driven by the new Green transfers. The CR stop just becomes the third-wheel option: complimentary (and thus still very much needed), but a clear and forever backseat to the bus-to-rapid transit frequencies that aggregately provide much broader transit options. A West Med that's having ridership dramatically siphoned away from it by this great modal redistribution on the corridor is, by chicken-and-egg riddle, not going to stimulate any increased future interest in a +1 GLX extension. That was a case that needed to be made in-tandem from the get-go, like the original study intended. If walking down the street or hopping a frequency-enhanced 80/94 to the transfer is fully good enough to serve the neighborhood with par-or-better absolute transit access than today, then the glitch is pretty much fixed. No Roxbury situations where anyone got gipped out of "equal or better"...their transit is head-above-shoulders better just from proximity to MVP and the uptick in 80/94 frequencies in and out of the rapid transit transfers. The neighborhood gets matter-of-fact faster and more frequent transit access; it just isn't one-seat right at their doorstep like it could've been if they signed on to that from Day 1.

In fact, the best post-GLX move the T can make is instituting a new Davis-Winchester Ctr. variation of the 94 that replicates the 94 to West Med, the 95 up Playstead Rd., and the 134 to Winchester on a unique routing. That ends up giving Wedgemere and Winchester fast/frequent buses to rapid transit and substantially enhances their transit access as well. It will also empty out Wedgemere ridership to the point where the T can consider eliminating that redundant station which (unlike Winchester with its planned gauntlet track and West Med with its space allowances for potential tri-track) can never be raised to full-high platforms. It'll be a lateral shift of a lot of transit trips from CR to bus+LRT, but that also enables commuter rail to expend more energy serving places Winchester-Woburn with denser infill service without having to worry about the inner corridor as West Med turns into a much more minor CR ridership generator, Wedgemere more or less fades entirely away, and Winch Ctr. becomes the new major overchurn point between bus/LRT-dominated trips and CR/Indigo-dominated trips. It'll be good if they do this; it's maximizing every tool in the modal toolbox to streamline the corridor that way, and doesn't require any capital funding other than finishing what they promised at MVP.



The only thing that could change whether West Med has a future on the Green Line is whenever commuter rail seeks to eliminate the West Med grade crossings with a pricey separation. And this will happen, especially if NSRL gets built flushing more traffic through here. In that case you're most likely sinking the ROW coming off the foot of the Mystic bridge into a cut under Route 60 with Canal St. being a half-and-half road overpass + track undercut near the start of the incline. There's 1450 ft. of running room, meaning a 1.4% grade is enough to get underneath Route 60 with 19.5 ft. of vertical clearance future-proofed for 25 kV electrification over 17 ft. Plate F freight cars. And since the ROW is 4-track width on the West Med side of the river due to former freight sidings the property lines where they lay the retaining walls for this cut would future-proof it for side-by-side CR and LRT. Probably with the cut in the station area just north of the 60 overpass being wide enough that if a GLX extension outright displaced the CR platforms that they'd be able to fit the 2 NH Main tracks next to a basic island-platform Green Line station. Then the only decisions you have to make are about doubling-up the bridges themselves and moving that barebones MVP surface station back up onto the embankment. Easier capital costs to justify when the West Med grade separation trench is going to be non-optional after enough traffic increases, and built out-of-box with the 4-track provision because the property lines simply frame it that way. Whether anything actually reaches across the Mystic from GLX this century, the grade separation cut will have its 100-year future-proofing on the width any which way. By the time CR is compelled to do this grade separation, the MVP surface station is easily going to be 25+ years old and...as a relatively barebones outdoor structure not overbuilt for longevity like the other GLX headhouses...probably will be in need of some cycled refurb and feature enhancement by that point in its ridership growth. That's your opportunity to trade back up to the original embankment design, because the cost of the ground-level barebones structure will have long ago amortized its cost by then and need upcoming capital decisions on its first *mild* renovation or structural expansion for additional amenities. It thus won't be that big a waste to abandon the ground structure at that point on the eve of its first renovation cycle to trade up to the embankment because the financial stakes are very low the way that times out. It just means it won't make sense to consider that trade until 30 years have passed and it's time to think about cycled renovations.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:44 pm

A 94-95-134 Mashup (Davis Sq-College Ave-Boston Ave-WMed-Playstead-Winthrop St-WnchCtr) would be great.

It might take a new bus up Grove St to Winchester If you wanted folks to give up Wedgemere.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:53 pm

Another really good one would be an Alewife-MVP-Medford Sq.-Wellington (or even further to Chelsea on Silver-Gateway) crosstown route on Route 16, which would be a dynamite circulator for linked trips at the transfers. I'm kind of surprised the T's Urban Ring Phase I studies (i.e. not the "real" UR on the dedicated ROW, but the final buildout of the CT# express bus system from Routes CT4 to CT11 drawing a surface-route template of the Ring in addition to other key non-Ring express routes) didn't include that one. Would require building out the long-proposed but never pursued Alewife busways to Mass Ave. to get around the Route 2 rotary from hell, but that's a route I would use the hell out of.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby rethcir » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:47 pm

Mods, these good people are talking about busses, swarm swarm swarm

Moderator's Note: So long as bus commentary relates to GLX and its impacts to service patterns, it stays. The thread is starting to wander a bit but it has yet to go completely awry. With the topic at hand in mind, carry on... -CR
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:44 am

Thanks: when we talk about rail transit extension, it seems natural to note that how far rail goes or ends (whether GLX now or OL or RL c. 1980s) has surprisingly little to do with ROW lines on a map (that we usually focus on) and pretty much everything to do with how access and political will are determined by how locals will access these rails: walk, bike, bus, car.

At least for Medford and Melrose, it also seems to matter whether the propose of their trip is "socially acceptable" to "people like us" neighbors (CR/Commute vs broader household school-shop-leisure-arts-airport trips). And whether locals picture "the wrong element" or "only newcomers" using it. Rail is the captive of these local conditions.

Support for rail spokes on the hub and spoke stops around the limits of the original Streetcar system, like Waverly, Belmont, Alewife, Clarendon Hill, MVP (High St Medford for streetcars), Wellington/Assembly, Chelsea, Airport, SS, can't practically be understood without seeing that even as the streetcars often got to the "end" and turned peripheral (as seen in the 80 & 94, 95 bus successors which, in West Medford ply exactly where the street rails ran), linear in-out rail continues to need multimodal termini supplying feeder and "wheel rim" trips (on an urban ring).
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby ebtmikado » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:41 pm

rethcir wrote:If MVP station is at street level, that more or less eliminates the chance of an extension to West Medford right? I a, aware of the historic nature of the stone bridge that makes it challenging,


Not very different from Foxboro's not joining Foxboro decades ago. You don't pay, you don't get a station.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby Arlington » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:48 am

GLX Constructors is the apparent winning bidder for the GLX design build contract at a price of $954,618,600, which includes ALL of the “additive options” including the full extension of the Somerville Community Path from Washington Street to Lechmere Station.


https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10154898549941681&id=53151441680

If GLX Constructors bids $1,080m and they'd allowed $1.3b, does that mean there's $350m in savings that could return $ that was taken from Phase II (MVP terminus)?

I updated the above bid to $1,080m (from $955m) because the higher price is the one that the winning contractor bid to include all of the "additive options":

The "additive options" were prioritized in the following order:

1. Platform canopies.
2. Additional elevators at select stations.
3. Public art.
4. Additional community connection to the community path located on Chester Street in Somerville.
5. Extension of the community path between East Somerville and Lechmere Stations.
6. Enhanced Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Somerville

It still baffles that art was 3rd and not 6th, but now that we're getting them all (by paying 1,080M instead of $955M vs $1,300M budgeted), I guess/hope it doesn't matter.
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Re: Green Line Expansion Beyond Lechmere

Postby rethcir » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:34 pm

Public art can be done very cheaply. Lots of people decorate concrete walls every day for free.

I don't know the full accounting process but I'm a little worried that this company used Texan prices to calculate their costs for an MA project. Labor, details, and weather related costs are certainly orders of magnitude higher than in Texas. But maybe they (reasonably) assumed that once they get their foot in the door, it doesn't really matter how far over bid the actual project comes in.
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