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Old 02-14-2013, 05:38 PM   #1
Commuting Boston Student
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MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

Okay, here's the deal. I made a somewhat sardonic comment over in the Olympics thread about how Bev Scott would need to announce the MBTA equivalent of Fast 14 before I could even begin to entertain the theory that someone (perhaps several someones) were using transit improvements as part of gearing up to make an Olympics bid.

Now, that got me thinking... what would an MBTA Fast 14 actually look like? Obviously, all the projects would need to have some kind of common theme tying them together beyond "transit improvements," and it would need to be something that is physically possible to get done over a number of months. There are a few categories that I think would fit the description quite nicely.

This merits further consideration, even though it's more or less guaranteed to never happen. So, I decided to open the floor to general commentary.

What would you all consider to be the most important projects that need getting done, and could be bundled together in some kind of Upgrade Blitz?

I'll get things started by suggesting that we could, if we really wanted to, overhaul the ten stations that most badly need it within ten weeks:
  1. Boylston (ADA)
  2. Arlington (ADA)
  3. Hynes Convention Center (ADA)
  4. Symphony (ADA)
  5. Porter Square (Shouldn't even count, but ELEVATORS UGH)
  6. Fairmount (High-level platforms)
  7. Readville (High-level platforms)
  8. Canton Junction (High-level platforms)
  9. Mansfield (High-level platforms)
  10. Attleboro (High-level platforms)
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:04 PM   #2
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

Arlington isn't ADA? Did they take out the elevators?
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:08 PM   #3
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

You mean Gov't Center, not Arlington.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:12 PM   #4
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

ADA'ing Boylston seems like a huge waste to me. What exactly is the future of Boylston? The station is pretty much useless, given that it's a stone's throw from Park Street. I get that it's historical and all. I take great pride in the fact that the central subway was the first in the US, but I think it should just be closed as a transit stop altogether and turned into a MBTA museum.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:49 PM   #5
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

Boylston is the closest stop to many theatres, and to Emerson College. I wouldn't necessarily improve it, but I wouldn't close it either.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:27 PM   #6
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Arlington isn't ADA? Did they take out the elevators?
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You mean Gov't Center, not Arlington.
Oops.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:41 PM   #7
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

They're shutting Gov't Center to work on it thoroughly for 2 years. Tell me (and tell THEM!) how you have a plan to get all that done in 10 weeks instead?
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:50 AM   #8
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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They're shutting Gov't Center to work on it thoroughly for 2 years. Tell me (and tell THEM!) how you have a plan to get all that done in 10 weeks instead?
Well, that's why I tried to limit it to projects like high-leveling platforms or installing elevators - projects I do believe could be done, top to bottom, in ten weeks.

This is also why Red-Blue is not on the list, nor fixing JFK/UMass.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:15 AM   #9
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

You could install signal priority for the Green Line and Silver Line at D street in less than 10 weeks. That would would do more for service than many station updates.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:45 AM   #10
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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You could install signal priority for the Green Line and Silver Line at D street in less than 10 weeks. That would would do more for service than many station updates.
+1.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:01 AM   #11
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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ADA'ing Boylston seems like a huge waste to me. What exactly is the future of Boylston? The station is pretty much useless, given that it's a stone's throw from Park Street. I get that it's historical and all. I take great pride in the fact that the central subway was the first in the US, but I think it should just be closed as a transit stop altogether and turned into a MBTA museum.
There are non-invasive means of making it compliant.

Outbound side: move the utility box sitting behind the stairs, put elevator shaft, fence off the area from the ROW floor-to-ceiling, stick in 1 wheelchair Charlie gate at front where it meets the rest of the concourse, security cam it up so it's not in a blind spot. This could probably be done pretty cheaply.

Inbound side: elevator shaft behind the garage door where the ancient Little Building entrance used to be, fence off walkway from ROW, 1 wheelchair Charlie gate where it meets the rest of the concourse, security cam up the blind spot. Difficulty: would have to move the electrical substation behind the garage door, which is expensive and definitely punts the project down to lowest priority. I still think they should do it because the Theater District ridership definitely merits, but it's behind all other subway station accessibility improvements on project priority (including ADA'ing the Berkeley entrance to Arlington).
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:18 AM   #12
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

Hey F-Line, would it be possible to physically connect Boylston and Chinatown?
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:39 AM   #13
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
Okay, here's the deal. I made a somewhat sardonic comment over in the Olympics thread about how Bev Scott would need to announce the MBTA equivalent of Fast 14 before I could even begin to entertain the theory that someone (perhaps several someones) were using transit improvements as part of gearing up to make an Olympics bid.

Now, that got me thinking... what would an MBTA Fast 14 actually look like? Obviously, all the projects would need to have some kind of common theme tying them together beyond "transit improvements," and it would need to be something that is physically possible to get done over a number of months. There are a few categories that I think would fit the description quite nicely.

This merits further consideration, even though it's more or less guaranteed to never happen. So, I decided to open the floor to general commentary.

What would you all consider to be the most important projects that need getting done, and could be bundled together in some kind of Upgrade Blitz?

I'll get things started by suggesting that we could, if we really wanted to, overhaul the ten stations that most badly need it within ten weeks:
  1. Boylston (ADA)
  2. Arlington (ADA)
  3. Hynes Convention Center (ADA)
  4. Symphony (ADA)
  5. Porter Square (Shouldn't even count, but ELEVATORS UGH)
  6. Fairmount (High-level platforms)
  7. Readville (High-level platforms)
  8. Canton Junction (High-level platforms)
  9. Mansfield (High-level platforms)
  10. Attleboro (High-level platforms)

Re: commuter rail platforms, the ones that have historic station houses abutting the platforms are a lot harder and more invasive than bare platforms w/prefab shelters because squaring the high platform height difference with the building exterior requires ugly hacks (ramps, slopes, some building mods). Attleboro (both sides), Mansfield inbound, Sharon inbound, and several others have that issue. Historic structures especially thorny on the Worcester Line lows in Natick and Wellesley and Fitchburg Line lows in Concord, Lincoln, Belmont. I wouldn't worry too much about the NEC lows, though, since all of them will be half-funded by Amtrak for center passing track installation and are on an aggressive Amtrak-driven deadline for raisings. Those will happen; they just don't fit the "Fast 14" mold.


For true "Fast 14"-style jobs they can get greatest bang-for-buck throwing a shitload of manpower at clusters of stops with prefab shelters and at-grade station access (i.e. no ramps/stairs to square). Especially the ones with little to no parking where they won't be tempted by mission creep. Reading Line from Wyoming Hill-North Wilmington, for example: all of them crappy old prefab-shelter lows at grade crossings. Punt the Haverhill schedule temporarily to the Wildcat Branch, short-turn at Reading only, run single-track only with one platform at each station closed for demolition. Rinse/repeat next year on the other side. Voila!...100% highs at all Western Route stops off the freight clearance route.

I'd definitely go for Reading first since that is the single highest-quantity bloc of "easy" fixes that are totally non-ADA, and it buys them measurable progress towards full legal compliance while they go fishing for money to fix the really hard non-ADA stops on Worcester and Fitchburg. But if level boarding's simply the goal whether the stop already has a mini-high or not, then they've got a lot of other easy ones (grade crossing and/or prefab structures) to shoot down by running temp single track or doing platforms in halves: Chelsea (last non-ADA non- flag stop on Eastern Route); all Rockport intermediates except the ones with historic structures (Bev Farms, Manchester); the 3 remaining Newburyport Branch lows; both Stoughton Line stops; etc.

And, yes, fixing the 2 Fairmount remainders are requirements for supporting a full schedule. Fairmount shouldn't be too hard, but Readville has to be physically relocated a few hundred feet north before the 2-track switch to get off the freight clearance route into Readville Yard so there's some non-trivial design/permiting work to do there outside the scope of any truly rapid construction.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:54 AM   #14
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Hey F-Line, would it be possible to physically connect Boylston and Chinatown?
No. Too many old building foundations in poor alignment with each other around the street, the block between Tremont and Washington runs slightly downhill, and the labyrinthine passageways around Chinatown station are so oddly laid out there isn't a logical place to hook up concourses. The only available egress from Boylston to run elsewhere is the old Little Building exit on the inbound side, which crosses the wrong side of the street for getting down to the Chinatown block and is physically impacted from crossing under Tremont by the abandoned trolley tunnel.

State and DTX might be doable--if expensive--because the planners had kind of gotten the hang of subway design by 1908 to not preclude such things, but the 1895 dig around the Common was much more trial-and-error (and much closer to the surface) that they didn't build around that Tremont/Boylston intersection with the foresight that there'd be another subway line going a mere block away within a dozen years.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:29 AM   #15
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

F-line, you may know. The Little Building is in such shitttttttttty shape. I mean the front is held on by strapping right now. Emerson obviously has to do something. Any enticement to provide ADA to at least IB side via the Little Building when that happens? Would code even allow or would they be obligated to do both IB and OB at once?
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:47 PM   #16
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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F-line, you may know. The Little Building is in such shitttttttttty shape. I mean the front is held on by strapping right now. Emerson obviously has to do something. Any enticement to provide ADA to at least IB side via the Little Building when that happens? Would code even allow or would they be obligated to do both IB and OB at once?
Not unless there was an ADA-acceptable egress from the IB side to the OB side.

As you may know, there's no way to go from one side to the other at all without exiting completely.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:16 PM   #17
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Not unless there was an ADA-acceptable egress from the IB side to the OB side.

As you may know, there's no way to go from one side to the other at all without exiting completely.
There used to be. Other ends of the platform have a conspicuous wood covering in the floor that hides the old shallow passageway connecting IB/OB: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bo...ld_passage.JPG. Was filled in during the mid-70's so the trackbed could support the weight of heavier LRV's. Nothing special...just a narrower/danker version of the Park St. underpass.

There is enough room to plop elevators down there and remake the passageway for a cross-platform transfer, but there's little demand for it unless the fence tracks reactivated and there was once again a line split here meriting a lot of IB/OB transfers. The old passageway was very seldom patronized after the South End lines were bustituted, so no reason today to bother.
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Old 02-15-2013, 04:19 PM   #18
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Well, that's why I tried to limit it to projects like high-leveling platforms or installing elevators - projects I do believe could be done, top to bottom, in ten weeks.

This is also why Red-Blue is not on the list, nor fixing JFK/UMass.
Considering how long it took to build the Park Street elevator, well over 3 years, I have little faith elevators could be installed within that time frame.
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Old 02-16-2013, 02:58 PM   #19
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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ADA'ing Boylston seems like a huge waste to me. What exactly is the future of Boylston? The station is pretty much useless, given that it's a stone's throw from Park Street. I get that it's historical and all. I take great pride in the fact that the central subway was the first in the US, but I think it should just be closed as a transit stop altogether and turned into a MBTA museum.
As soon as trains exit Park St (heading towards Kenmore) they should turn 45 degrees to the southwest, and then turn another 45 degrees to the west when it reaches Boylston Street/Arlington Station. This removes the stop at Boylston to make trips faster and removes the 90 degree turn (which removes further speed/time impediments, removes massive wear and tear of the curve, labor costs for greasing the rails on the curve, restrictions on what equipment the T can buy, etc). Boylston should remain for the F Line to Dudley Square, though.
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Old 02-16-2013, 03:02 PM   #20
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Re: MBTA Transit Upgrade Blitz Wish List?

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Considering how long it took to build the Park Street elevator, well over 3 years, I have little faith elevators could be installed within that time frame.
You could complete an elevator project from the "ready to start construction" phase to "finished and operational" in ten weeks.

It hasn't happened because doing so requires dedication and drive, and the goal needs to actually be "get this shit done now."
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