Newburyport Line extension

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Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:58 pm

I was driving thru Newburyport today and noticed that the ROW has been cleared from the station back toward downtown by what appears to be a construction contractor from the sign on their trucks. While I would love to think of the MBTA extending this line on up to Portsmouth, its probably just for a gas line replacement or something. Hopefully its not the NIMBYs trying to turn the rest of the ROW into a stupid bike path or something... anyone know whats going on?
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby TomNelligan » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:07 pm

Yep, it's going to become a bike path/hiking trail from the station into downtown (where the original B&M station was located before the service restoration about ten years ago moved it out to Route 1).
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:20 pm

That sucks! But I am not suprised. Its a real shame as it would be nice to be able to take the train up to Portsmouth and vice versa...The MBTA can never get anything right although I suppose it also has to do with their mismanagement and the perpetual lack of vision and funding as well....
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Aug 14, 2008 6:41 am

The local nautical chart still lists the closed clearance for the swing bridge, though.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:07 am

The roadbed is 3 or more tracks wide from the Merrimack St. underpass to the former Owens-Illinois switch, so there will be room for both tracks and a path if the need and the money ever coincide, and the home/condo owners between High St. and the river can be placated. I'm sad to see it go, I used that area as a modeling reference from time to time (85 lb. rail, standard B&M pole line mostly intact, etc.).
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby Ron Newman » Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:36 pm

A path in this location will make it much easier to reach downtown from the station.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:10 pm

Ron Newman wrote:A path in this location will make it much easier to reach downtown from the station.

While that would be true, the point is that the rail line should be what is extended thru downtown and on up northward...just another example of poor MBTA planning, execution and follow through and allowing the towns to get away with projects that could ultimately stop expansion as once its ripped up it will be hard to turn it back to a rail line...and commuting costs and gas prices arent going to get any lower...
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby jbvb » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:24 am

The path won't improve access to downtown Newburyport much. Existing sidewalks along Hill St. and State St. offer shorter routes. The old roadbed is enough flatter that it might draw bikers and and others on/using wheels from downtown, and it will make it much more convenient for North End pedestrians, who had to go the long way around or walk on the shoulder of Rt. 1.

I still wish someone would find the $50K or so needed to make the sidewalk continuous along Parker and Hill St. from the platform to Rt. 1 and Hill St., and put up a few more signs. Adding sidewalk and signage from that traffic light on Rt. 1 to State St. would also be good, as pedestrians leaving the lot via the Rt. 1 auto entrance are immediately faced with a dangerous unprotected crossing of a multi-lane road entering a traffic circle. And maybe even plow the sidewalk in the winter, as though shoveling is required by law, the law (and the civic duty) are obviously forgotten by most...
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby atsf sp » Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:22 am

I don't think the line drops you off close enough to downtown. The layover could stay where it is but I think the final stop should be near downtown.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:05 pm

atsf sp wrote:I don't think the line drops you off close enough to downtown. The layover could stay where it is but I think the final stop should be near downtown.


My recollection is that at the time of the service restoration in the late 1990s, the city didn't want a downtown station because of parking concerns in the neighborhood. The current station with its huge parking lot is designed to accomodate commuters coming off of Route 1, and does that job well, but obviously it's a mile from Newburyport's neat waterfront/shops/restaurants district and not especially convenient for tourists. I agree that an additional stop roughly at the location of the old B&M station would have been nice.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby sery2831 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:43 pm

I don't understand why a single track station wasn't built near downtown and all the off peak trains could turn there. Something like Plymouth on the Kingston Line. This would make it so people commuting to work would have to use the main station but tourists could get to downtown.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bmvguye39 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:08 pm

sery2831 wrote:I don't understand why a single track station wasn't built near downtown and all the off peak trains could turn there. Something like Plymouth on the Kingston Line. This would make it so people commuting to work would have to use the main station but tourists could get to downtown.


Probably because they would have had to spend a couple more dollars or deal with the NIMBYs to extend the tracks over the crossings and rebuild a couple of the bridges over the roads as I think there are 3 roads to deal with before actually getting to downtown...but would have been a great idea...drop off the commuters at the parking lot, then drop off people at downtown, then start the journey back to Boston.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby bigbronco85 » Sat May 23, 2009 11:46 pm

I noticed recently that the southbound approach and abutment to the Merrimack River bridge has been obliterated- what's up with that? I kind of preferred the walking path there the way it was with old rail-related artifacts in place.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby b&m 1566 » Sun May 24, 2009 12:23 pm

This paved bike path project might not be limited to just that section. For a few years now at least, there has been a group in NH that has been trying to get a bike path built in Seabrook and the dormant half in Hampton (I’m not sure if Salisbury is included in the project). With Pan Am waiting the STB's approval to abandon the Hampton to Portsmouth section we may see the entire line in New Hampshire become a bike path.
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Re: Newburyport Line extension

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon May 25, 2009 12:51 am

b&m 1566 wrote:This paved bike path project might not be limited to just that section. For a few years now at least, there has been a group in NH that has been trying to get a bike path built in Seabrook and the dormant half in Hampton (I’m not sure if Salisbury is included in the project). With Pan Am waiting the STB's approval to abandon the Hampton to Portsmouth section we may see the entire line in New Hampshire become a bike path.


The line dips inside the fence of Seabrook nuclear power plant when it crosses by there, so unless any path deviates off the line around there it's unlikely it could continue south to the state line. Other thing is that when Seabrook is decommissioned (scheduled 17 years from now) they'll need the rail link to transport the waste offsite as part of the nuke plant mothballing process, so any attempts by Pan Am to abandon will likely result in the state stepping in to railbank the branch. NH does desire that this ROW remain preserved for future commuter rail use, but the Seabrook nuke issue gives them more practical leverage to step in and stop one of those NIMBY rails-to-trails-so-it'll-NEVER-AGAIN-go-back-to-rails sleights of hand from happening here.

Newburyport...that's another matter. It was the NIMBY's who got the line terminated way on the outskirts of town when restoration happened. Demand over time for a downtown station likely would've gotten it extended eventually back to where it used to go, so trailing it now is a way for them to throw up a potential roadblock. The T isn't going to ram it across the river and through Salisbury again until NH goes ga-ga for Portsmouth/Kittery service, but an extension to the actual population center of the line's namesake would've been a nice small-scale improvement (ditto the Plymouth-Line-that-doesn't-really-stop-in-Plymouth) actually do-able over the next few years.



MBTA has got to be careful about what kind of trails it agrees to on its own owned ROW's, because it's not a coincidence that some of the most active trail lobbying efforts are on lines with long-term CR extension potential or on infrastructure that deep in the future may be needed to alleviate capacity crunches. Massbike.org has lists of all the trail proposals, some hotter than others, some more ongoing than others (lot of 404 Errors on the advocacy sites for ones that have lapsed). Check out some of the strategic ROW's in question that they're getting lobbied to trail over:

-- Lawrence-Methuen to state line - NH is actively studying restoration of service on that branch to Salem and Londonderry as a long-term goal after they get commuter service up, running, and grown on their portions of the active Lowell and Haverhill trackage. This is currently looked at as their first foray into a real restoration of an abandoned ROW, first leg to Salem even preceding the deep long-term goal of bringing the Eastern Route fully back to Portsmouth. Very active lobby going on for the trail on the T's < 3 miles of trackage inside MA, which would effectively kill the whole CR corridor for NH (and south of the border obviously isn't going to care about north of the border's future here)
-- Grand Junction branch - Various permutations of the stupid busway proposals have the ROW alongside getting pathed up. One proposal has it trail + rails, but cannibalizing the empty berth on the BU Bridge making it impossible to ever double-track the line for light rail. This would be a GOOD idea for a path if it didn't ruin rail capacity like some of the designs intentionally do.
-- Saugus Branch - Various permutations of stupid busway proposals with paths alongside.
-- Wakefield-Lynnfield-Peabody -- Already being pathed up, so they gave it away. Was the only remaining track connection between the Haverhill and Newburyport/Rockport lines outside of North Station, one of the only intact ROW's that paralleled 128 (basically 1/5 of the way).
-- West Roxbury - T has owned the former Needham Line-to-Franklin Line connecting bypass ROW, abandoned 1941, since its inception. This was the planned extension route for the Orange Line teased during the SW corridor reconstruction...was to continue to Rozzie and West Rox along the Needham line, then peel off down this ROW to Dedham Ctr./Mall. MBTA's been trying to outright sell this ROW off for a trail, but has found no buyers because the Dedham NIMBY's are ready to rumble.
-- Central Mass - Waltham-Berlin stretch proposed for a trail; last studied for CR restoration mid-90's. Weston NIMBY's fighting the trail so nothing moving. Waltham-Sudbury stretch + intact CSX Lowell Secondary track Framingham-Sudbury the only extant North-South linking ROW's anywhere between Grand Junction and Clinton-Ayer. Also one of the only potential overcrowding bypasses for Worcester Line still in-hand as a long-term option. Considering there's proposals being floated for Back Bay-Newton/Riverside DMU service, Northborough/Southborough CR service branching off Framingham Jct., a Fed-designated high-speed corridor from Boston-Albany, and some massive Worcester-area freight upgrades planned...odds are pretty high that in the next 30 years they'll need to run Metro West service from the northside too to alleviate the extreme congestion from SS to the Framingham Secondary.
-- Millis line - Medway-Bellingham past the end of the active trackage being considered for trail. This is the only ROW still in-hand that could provide a bypass to choked Franklin line capacity. An option--just like the remaining Central Mass--the state's well-advised to keep railbanked if ridership growth vs. on-time performance goes beyond critical on the Franklin, the Fairmount expressing option disappears to Indigo line, a Milford extension is desired, etc.
-- Fall River Secondary - Recently purchased from CSX. Trail lobby has run hot and cold here...sale was so recent they haven't really has time to take another run at it. Only connecting trackage between Fall River and New Bedford, only way to hit both cities from a Providence train if RIDOT were to desire South Coast service. Fairhaven Secondary already lost to trails so already no possible way to go direct Providence-FR-NB-Cape like most South Coast commuters already do on the I-195 corridor.


That's pretty much all of them you could see ANY potential passenger service on in the next half-century getting targeted by the trail lobby. I don't think that's a coincidence. NIMBY's have more than one play in their playbook than simply screeching and stamping their feet. I'd especially hate to see NH's and RI's nascent efforts at interstate CR get cut off at the knees by MA lackadaisically bartering away the few measly miles of trackage rights it holds most critical to its neighbors' probable ridership patterns.
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