'Second City Crossing'

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'Second City Crossing'

Postby eubnesby » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:53 pm

Having been thinking about the nature of Tremont Street Subway, its capacity constraints and age, I was wondering if anyone had ever thought of or planned a 'Second City Crossing' alternative route through the city centre, so as to reduce some strain and improve capacity? Those of you familiar with the British city of Manchester will know of the very successful 'Metrolink' tram system, which has rapidly expanded over the past ten years. Much like the MBTA's Green Line, numerous tram routes converge in the city centre, formerly having to be routed through one bottleneck, which led to delays. To solve this problem, the 'Second City Crossing' was built, an alternative route for some lines that runs on city streets roughly parallel to the original alignment.

While I do not know the specifics of Boston's situation in this regard, I simply wanted to ask if anyone had considered such a plan for the city? That is to say, an alternative route branching off the Green Line before it enters the Subway at some point, travelling through the city streets, which could then potentially be pedestrianised or otherwise fitted with traffic calming measures so as to allow tram priority, to meet the old alignment at Science Park.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby BandA » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:25 am

I don't think there is a surface street that is available!! Downtown Crossing area was converted to a pedestrian mall in the late 1970s, but that's only 5-6 blocks of Washington St + ~3 blocks of Winter/Summer St. At times it is very crowded with pedestrians, and 5-6 blocks is useless. The Orange Line from Chinatown to North Station is essentially a parallel bypass of the Central Subway (Green Line) built in what, 1910?

Green Line (and the other lines!) need express tracks. These will have to go under another street or under the existing tracks. Imagine if the Green Line and the Orange line shared express tracks? And maybe install people-movers along the Winter Street concourse.

Park to Downtown Crossing is about 600 feet. Boylston to Chinatown is also about the same distance. Government Center to State is also about the same distance!! How about build concourses between those stations!
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby Disney Guy » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:50 pm

When the Boylston St. subway was built, ca 1925, it was proposed to have offramps east of Arlington station down under Tremont St. into a Boylston Under station and continuing as a straight through route also under Chinatown station and down Essex St. ending at Post Office Square.

The intent was to have cars from the west (Boylston St. subway) go to Post Office Square while cars from the south (Tremont bellmouths) continue to go to Park St., Scollay, etc. Building the Post Office Square branch would have been tricky because either it would have to go down a third story in depth to clear the "sub-subway" fly-under for outbound Tremont St. cars or, heaven forbid, have a grade crossing on the second story down level with that "sub-subway". Reference: "Rapid Transit Lines" by Boston Street Railway Assn.

There was also proposed a "Second Back Bay Crossing" from the vicinity of Kenmore Station along the route of Storrow Drive and called the Riverbank Subway.

At the time there was a question of enough patronage for the Riverbank Subway because people lived, and employment/shopping existed, on only one side of it. Nowadays that route, if it could be exploited, might make a nice express rapid transit run through the Back Bay.

The Park St. to Downtown Crossing concourse came into being as a natural consequence of cut and cover subway construction for the Red Line. Building more underground concourses today would be vastly more complicated. One might question whether it would be more cost effetive, taking into account interest in construction bonds, creating less than airtight free transfer zones (including for paper Charlie Tickets) between Boylston and Chinatown and between State and Government Center and then some people would walk on the surface reducing congestion in the subways. Also, the underground concourses would require, for most travel paths, negotiating just as many stair steps as going to the surface and back down.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby HenryAlan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:10 am

Attached is a map of the proposed Post Office Square branch routing (Source: http://www.bostonstreetcars.com/five-ke ... ments.html).

There has also been a proposal for re-routing the Huntington Ave. subway to Stuart St., bypassing Copley Junction, then feeding in to the old Pleasant St. portal. That wouldn't be the second downtown routing, but it would relieve congestion from merging lines, as the re-routed E-Branch would be using a flying junction. See http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=43795 for more info about that idea.

Overall, I'd argue against doing something that simply created a parallel path between the same set of end points. If any additional subways are built downtown, the purpose should be for adding new destinations such as the Seaport or Chelsea.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby Charliemta » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:54 pm

eubnesby wrote:While I do not know the specifics of Boston's situation in this regard, I simply wanted to ask if anyone had considered such a plan for the city? That is to say, an alternative route branching off the Green Line before it enters the Subway at some point, travelling through the city streets, which could then potentially be pedestrianised or otherwise fitted with traffic calming measures so as to allow tram priority, to meet the old alignment at Science Park.


The E Line could surface just north of Mass Pike and then run on a reservation on the surface along Stuart St. and St. James Street. A parking lane and some roadside areas would have to be sacrificed, but it's doable. The problem is that east of Charles Street you get into the narrow streets of old Boston, and it's not possible to fit light rail on the surface through there.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby MBTA3247 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:56 pm

The people who laid trolley tracks all over downtown Boston in the 19th century would beg to differ.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:21 pm

There were no median reservations on small downtown streets and street running is neither efficient nor likely around here.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby eubnesby » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:31 pm

Thank you all for your responses. As for the narrowness of the streets, it's not as if those in Manchester are not the same. See this picture (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... 301810.jpg) as an example of what was done there.

I am, however, concerned about capacity in the Central Subway...and there are no good or obvious solutions that I know of, other than potential street-running. However, I suppose Boston is not ready for that...
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby CRail » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:41 pm

Street running may not be likely, but it's certainly efficient in multiple ways! Certainly in terms of real estate, reservations are extraordinarily inefficient.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby BandA » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:15 pm

I don't think widespread street running is coming back, unfortunately. But I don't understand why a hi-rail bus/trolley isn't practical - it's been tested in Japan ~10-15 years ago (followed by crickets) and many, many years ago.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby Cosakita18 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:06 am

If I recall a few years ago I heard someone float the idea of a 5th line that would basically serve as a radial connector. The idea was to split from the red line at Central Square, cross over to Kenmore to Mass Ave on the Orange Line to the Boston Medical Center area and then rejoining the red line at either Andrew or JFK / UMass. Their theory was that it would take a lot of strain off of the Red and Green lines and give more connection options without having to go into Park St / Downtown Crossing.
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby Disney Guy » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:44 am

"If I recall a few years ago I heard someone float the idea of a 5th line that would basically serve as a radial connector. "

The example approximates the route of one of the "CT" cross town bus lines. What is needed is a corridor without so many cross streets. Now that that rules out street operations, it is necessary to go below ground or elevated above ground to achieve significant improvement in performance.

Also, below ground or elevated above ground would facilitate although with some imagination and tolerance overground would not preclude free transfers.

The web site transitx.com gives an example of a not too obtrusive above ground system
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Re: 'Second City Crossing'

Postby atlantis » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:00 am

B&A you make a good point about a hi rail trolley/coach. I have also said the same thing and remember the test of the experimental vehicle in Japan, followed by crickets as you say. Such a vehicle could be used to, in effect, restore the Forest Hills portion of the Heath Street/Arborway line of the Green Line, or the A-Watertown branch, imo.
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