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Old 11-14-2013, 01:27 PM   #41
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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Originally Posted by Dr. StrangeHat View Post
When I lived in Acton for a couple years, I knew a few of my neighbors that commuted Rt. 2 to Alewife, then took the Red Line from there or worked in that general area of Cambridge. That might be where that direction comes from. Those providing that direction probably didn't consider that Porter Square is pretty much a stoneís throw from Alewife and that a faster F-Line commute to Porter would be just as easy as driving the gauntlet that is Rt. 2 from Acton to Alewife.

Iím curious to see pictures of the new South Acton station when that is done, since Iím no longer in the area.

This may have been discussed in this thread, but thereís an old line/ROW running through Waltham near where I used to live in Waltham. The line runs from at least Wayland, but more importantly thereís a junction with the F-line near Kendall Green and then it reconnects with the F-line near Linden Street.

You can see the outline of the ROW as a tree-lined path in this Google Maps shot:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&l...38409&t=h&z=15

Is there any feasibility to re-opening this line to better connect to the new Polaroid development/Prospect Hill/etc? I know that might cut off Brandies/Roberts, but maybe alternate between the two lines?
No need to do any relocating. The juiciest site for the Route 128 park-and-ride station that would anchor such a DMU short-turn is right there where the Central Mass re-converges and has that unused 128 overpass dumping over to the ex-Route 117 grade crossing right by the Polaroid driveway. Put a lit path from the new station on the ROW and it's a 2000 ft. walk to that complex's doorstep. Connect the access road from the Route 117 side over the brook and tracks to the access road from the Route 20 side and the 70 bus can switch its 117-to-20 looping point over from Stow Rd. to the other side of 128 on the access road.



Central Mass is owned and landbanked by the T from the Fitchburg split at Beaver St. Waltham out to West Berlin where it passes under 495. It's intact in the woods beyond there for a couple more miles until it crosses the active Fitchburg Secondary at Route 62. The T did do a commuter rail restoration study to 495 in the mid-90's: http://www.masscentralrailtrail.org/...omingback.html. Would have split off at 128 instead of duplicating the miles in Waltham, and had the option to bundle the Fitchburg Secondary connection into the build for north-south equipment transfers out of Framingham (i.e. a wholly T-owned alternative to the Worcester-Ayer freight branch) and future passenger considerations.

Despite the congestion on Routes 20 and 62 the ridership didn't project very large. Virtually zero parking available at any of the potential station sites other than the 495 park-and-ride, and downtown Hudson was the only one dense enough to draw much of a walkup crowd. Mainly a problem of wetlands, wetlands, wetlands everywhere pinning them in at the only appropriate stop locations. Wayland, South Sudbury, and (negotiable Weston) station sitings had trouble integrating diffuse pockets of insular disconnected subdivisions much like the current trio of Weston stops on the Fitchburg, Route 20 is a dividing line making it hard to attract walkup from the south of it (and the further south you go towards Route 30 the easier it is to just Pike it to Riverside), and there's near-zilch in the way of connecting buses to bolster that up. Hudson's a pretty decent one, but even West Berlin/495 had weaknesses. Mostly being smack middle of wetlands making it nearly impossible to do much TOD at all around the site.

They did the Northborough/290 commuter rail study on the Fitchburg Secondary about 5 years later. 495 would've been covered out of Framingham by stops in Marlborough and @ 290 only 1 exit from the 290/495 interchange and the Route 85 connnector straight into downtown Hudson. With better TOD potential. That would've covered all needs on that 495 quadrant south of Littleton, and compensated Hudson with a straight downtown shot where a connecting bus would be an attractive prospect. And the ancillary advantages of later proceeding to Clinton, Leominster, and re-connecting to the Fitchburg Line outside of Fitchburg were more attractive prospects on a southside routing (albeit still not that good) than it would do on a Central Mass routing that duplicated too much of below-capacity Fitchburg's service area.

I would say this is the one 100% intact ROW that's not worth thinking about any further. It doesn't have one unequivocal must-have large enough to write a mission statement around. Comes too close to duplicating the service areas of other current or potential lines, and the stops that are supposed to relieve acute Route 20 congestion...pretty much can't with the available land and wetlands constraints. It's the same set of pretty-nice-but-meh surplus to requirement that doomed the original Central Mass RR. It missed way too many destinations trying to split the difference cross-state between the Fitchburg and Boston & Albany. Compared to restoring the Stoughton Line, or the Eastern Route to Portsmouth, or the Franklin Line to Blackstone for Woonsocket, or even rolling back a couple NIMBY lost causes like Millis or Woods Hole on the Cape...there just isn't a big galvanizing selling point for this one.



As for the Waltham stretch...trail it. That's even denser residential than the river-hugging Fitchburg which is in the prime commercial district and Brandeis-land. That would get excellent utilization, and if the Fitchburg Cutoff path got extended to Belmont and Waverley in stages on the empty ROW space there is a way to connect this ROW to 128 and beyond (don't forget the Bruce Freeman Trail link-up in S. Sudbury) to the Alewife/Minuteman network. Which would be pretty damn sweet if they're methodical enough about stringing those rail-with-trail segments gradually across Belmont.

IF there ever comes a day when rapid transit overcomes the Belmont NIMBY's and goes to Waltham on the old Track 3 & 4 berths of the Fitchburg (probably easiest as a GLX out of Porter because of the grade crossings)...then they can consider re-routing the Fitchburg to express over the Central Mass and rejoin itself at 128 so rapid transit can claim the Beaver St.-128 ROW that is pinned to only 2 tracks. But that would be just about the last new rapid transit service expansion on a bucket list of 15+ higher-priority ones. We're talking after Red-Hanscom, Blue-Salem, Green-Watertown (via Porter), etc. Third-tier project, 2050, our grandkids having this discussion on whatever Jetsons-shit ArchBoston forum exists mid-century.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 11-14-2013 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 11-14-2013, 02:40 PM   #42
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

FWIW...here's my crude renderings of how to do this 128 station.


Existing conditions



Sorry...accidentally cropped out part of the caption for the 70 bus.



Future configuration



Dashed lines indicate future platform, ped connection to Church St. to serve displaced Kendal Green passengers, and revised 70 bus loop at the station. Assume the Central Mass is trailed from Polaroid to the station; the future Waltham and Weston legs are beyond the scope of this project. Parking lots negotiable; there's space at the ex- sand pits around the station, or the small-size garage at Biogen can be rebuilt vertical as a T garage with Biogen given other designated space or an equivalent number of reserved parking levels in this new garage as in their old garage. Access roads connected by a bridge over Stony Brook Creek and the wetlands + tracks, but otherwise unmodified.

Pocket track could be installed for DMU turnbacks either a little bit north of the station next to that crappy little construction warehouse at the end of the Church St. private driveway or a little bit south of the station next to that crappy little warehouse on Sibley Rd. where 20 overpasses the tracks; both avoid the wetlands. Only wetlands impacts here is the connecting bridge over the creek and tracks joining the two access roads together. Parking sites are safely away from wetlands either on the recently environmentally mitigated ex- sand pit north of the pond or by redoing the Biogen garage as a tall structure. This is key, because as long as the deals can be cut with the private business EIS'ing is the only possible blocker. And avoiding touching anything except for the access road connector bridge takes most of the environmental considerations off the table.


Ties the room together nicely, don't it? 128, 117, & 20 access. Polaroid access. #70 access (and considering how frequently it runs, this stop becomes a viable reverse-commute transfer for people who have to commute outbound on Fitchburg...which is one of the primary growth markets for the line). And the 70 serves residential-dense northern Waltham where access to this station is often easier than Waltham Ctr. Preserved Church St. access for the displaced Kendal Green commuters. Trail access on the Central Mass in both directions. Future bus access potential from Weston on both 20 and 117. Good stop spacing between Waltham Ctr., Brandeis, 128, and (when outbound stops get wider-spaced) Lincoln. Good driveway access on both ends that load-spreads to avoid locking 20 and 117 solid. Good access up 2nd Ave. to Totten Pond Rd., Genzyme, Home Depot, etc. Good access to Microsoft. Lots and lots of TOD potential well beyond just Polaroid like the junkyard abutting 128 and the Central Mass, those shitty warehouse parcels just north and south of the station, more development on 2nd Ave.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 11-14-2013 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:20 PM   #43
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

All good points

I think the most frustrating thing to me when I lived in Waltham was how painfully annoying it was to try to get into Boston via public transportation. The commuter rail times weren't the most convenient for trying to get into the city in the afternoon/evening, and the 70 bus to Central Square was the most mind-numbingly frustrating and slow bus ride I've ever encountered. It usually took at least 45 minutes to get from where I lived near Cedarwood to Central Square, and it always seems to be running late.

Not really too relavent to the converastion...more just me venting my frustrations from that time period
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Old 11-14-2013, 07:13 PM   #44
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

No Weston (128) Station unless they close Kendall Green, Silver Hill, and Hastings. All of them. No ifs, ands, or buts. Either that, or require the town to relax zoning to allow for intense growth around them.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #45
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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No Weston (128) Station unless they close Kendall Green, Silver Hill, and Hastings. All of them. No ifs, ands, or buts. Either that, or require the town to relax zoning to allow for intense growth around them.
If that question were put before Weston town selectmen I imagine the provincialism of their zoning would win over the spoiled commuters.
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:19 PM   #46
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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If that question were put before Weston town selectmen I imagine the provincialism of their zoning would win over the spoiled commuters.
I was thinking the same thing! Oh man, what an uproar there'd be in Weston. But under no circumstances can they ever detach from their suburbia.
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:59 PM   #47
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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No Weston (128) Station unless they close Kendall Green, Silver Hill, and Hastings. All of them. No ifs, ands, or buts. Either that, or require the town to relax zoning to allow for intense growth around them.
Kendal Green just flat-out doesn't stand a chance if 128 is built. Only 1 side platform that requires you to use a track grade crossing from the front door to get on/off outbound. Wintertime when there's no leaves you can almost see the old bridge where the Central Mass crosses over the Fitchburg Line. That's how close it is to the 128 station siting. Seriously...get permission to use the private driveway snaking behind the station building as a public path, extend it several hundred feet to connect the existing access road by the new station and it's a 2000 ft. walk from Church St. It doesn't matter how hard Weston digs in, they will not keep this station. The station building is privately-owned; the T doesn't have any assets there besides 1 electronic sign, 1 static sign, and a 9' x 300' slab of platform pavement.

Hastings isn't even a station. It's a grade crossing with no signage, no platform, no lighting on the road, and a makeshift dirt parking lot. Single most dangerous stop on the commuter rail because you have to stand by the side of the road for your train and walk down the gravel ballast to board. All it takes is for somebody to slip on ice and faceplant the tracks and they can make a move to close it tomorrow on safety/liability no matter how hard the town screams.

Silver Hill at least has grade separation, a gravel real platform, and a shelter. Although you still have to cross the tracks to board the front door inbound without aid of the paved crossing KG has. If Weston had to be bartered with to kill off Hastings ASAP a temporary stay of execution for SH wouldn't be too bad. And if they pitched a fit on KG being relocated they can just offer up an increased schedule to SH and a few dozen grand in improvements to get it 'up' to KG-level amenities. Paving and replacing the Home Depot stairs with a wood ramp to the platform and chaining up one of those portable wheelchair lifts there that a conductor can get out and move into place would even give it a modicum of accessibility. For a handful of trains per day and decent station spacing between KG/128 and Lincoln that wouldn't be the worst concession in the world. It's more important that deathtrap Hastings gets wiped off the map immediately and that 128 replaces KG. It would be best if all 3 went, but this one does have some leverage upside to keep in-pocket when doing battle with the town.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:19 AM   #48
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

I used to use the Kendall Green stop quite often when I lived in both Waltham and Acton (plenty of free parking, easy access, quicker to get home to where I lived in Acton then riding to South Acton, etc.). Despite being right smack in the middle of the neighborhood, I barely noticed anyone that walked to the station. Everyone drove there, so moving Kendall Green to a new 128 station really shouldn't be much of a chance for people, outside of having to pay for parking. If you live in Weston, then you can probably afford to pay a little for parking.
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Old 11-15-2013, 11:23 AM   #49
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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I was thinking the same thing! Oh man, what an uproar there'd be in Weston. But under no circumstances can they ever detach from their suburbia.
Yeah, don't forget about the brick the Town shat in 1997 over a proposed bike path... That whole episode almost makes me want to see the MBTA reactivate commuter rail service on that line just out of spite.
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Old 11-15-2013, 05:07 PM   #50
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

Took the train from West Concord to North Station on Monday, and took these pictures of work machines alongside the track. I couldn't tell what they were doing, is it related to the weekend closures?
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Old 11-15-2013, 05:20 PM   #51
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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Took the train from West Concord to North Station on Monday, and took these pictures of work machines alongside the track. I couldn't tell what they were doing, is it related to the weekend closures?
They're installing a new interlocking in Lincoln related to the signal replacement project. Involves track realignment.
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Old 11-15-2013, 05:32 PM   #52
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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They're installing a new interlocking in Lincoln related to the signal replacement project. Involves track realignment.
That makes sense. Are there any plans for a higher speed interlocking and NORAC 261 for passing expresses? Or is it more of a maintenance of way replacement?
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Old 11-16-2013, 11:07 AM   #53
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

South Acton's south side foundation is done and the north side is being worked on. Martin and Central St. crossings in Acton were supposed to be redone on the 2nd and 9th, but I'm not sure if they were.
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Old 11-16-2013, 02:09 PM   #54
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That makes sense. Are there any plans for a higher speed interlocking and NORAC 261 for passing expresses? Or is it more of a maintenance of way replacement?
Yes. It's getting bi-directional signaling and 80 MPH track. Trains will finally be able to pass each other at full speed, and there will finally be possibility after Wachusett opens to start juggling expresses vs. locals on that long-ass trip with more end runs skipping over lighter-use inner stops.

Most of what they're doing on the weekend closures between Brandeis and South Acton right now is just infrastructure renewal. They're ripping out old crossovers that were only used by extinct freights or extinct commuter short-turns (like Lincoln) that haven't existed on a schedule since the dawn of the MBTA, cleaning up, and re-spacing all the rest of the interlockings to suit modern schedules. Plus trenching miles of fiber signal cable to replace the ancient copper on the telegraph poles. All that Dig Safe spraypaint at the grade crossings for the fiber and those track machines for the switch installations/de-installations are what they're doing on weekends now.
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Old 11-16-2013, 04:07 PM   #55
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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South Acton's south side foundation is done and the north side is being worked on. Martin and Central St. crossings in Acton were supposed to be redone on the 2nd and 9th, but I'm not sure if they were.
My recently foiled bike ride confirms central street is getting redone.

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Old 06-28-2014, 07:46 PM   #56
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

This weekend is the last weekend service suspension for the section of track from Brandies/Roberts to Fitchburg. Next weekend regular service will run and then the real impacts begin. Starting July 12th thru October 18th Weekend service will be suspended on THE ENTIRE FITCHBURG COMMUTER RAIL LINE from North Station to Fitchburg. Crews will be working on tracks, signals, replacing grade crossings, culverts and repairing bridges.
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Old 07-08-2014, 02:37 PM   #57
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

Suspension of Weekend Service on ENTIRE FITCHBURG LINE Begins this Weekend thru November 23rd. Following is from MBTA Service Alerts


Fitchburg Line: Service suspended btwn North Sta & Fitchburg on Sat & Sun thru Nov 23, 2014, (with the exception of Labor Day weekend, Aug 30-31) due to track improvements. No substitute buses provided


Start of day Sat 7/12/14 until end of day Sat 7/12/14
Start of day Sun 7/13/14 until end of day Sun 7/13/14
Ongoing

Affected stops:
North Station
Porter Square Station
Belmont
Waverley
Waltham
Brandeis/ Roberts
Kendal Green
Hastings
Silver Hill
Lincoln
Concord
West Concord
South Acton
Littleton / Rte 495
Ayer
Shirley
North Leominster
Fitchburg

Last Updated: 7/8/2014 12:20:41 PM
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:49 PM   #58
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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Suspension of Weekend Service on ENTIRE FITCHBURG LINE Begins this Weekend thru November 23rd. Following is from MBTA Service Alerts
Just a further F.Y.I the project update file from last February
http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Ab...5-14%20(2).pdf

has a chart on page 15 of the PDF which indicates there will be a full weekend shut down next summer as well.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:08 AM   #59
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

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Just a further F.Y.I the project update file from last February
http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Ab...5-14%20(2).pdf

has a chart on page 15 of the PDF which indicates there will be a full weekend shut down next summer as well.
Yup. Completion date is late 2015.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:40 AM   #60
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Re: Fitchburg Line Improvement Project

I'm surprised that the T can get away without any substitute bus service. This total shutdown is going to strand a lot of people.
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