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Old 03-23-2015, 09:27 AM   #1
Commuting Boston Student
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New and Expanded Highways

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Originally Posted by BussesAin'tTrains View Post
I may well be missing something, but how does beefing up Route 3 to interstate standards fix the geometry and density problems confronting the Braintree Split and the Southeast Expressway?
It doesn't.

Fixing the Braintree Split requires a whole bunch of exit ramp reconfiguration, but I'm not convinced that it's an implausible project even if you assume that there's going to be zero ROW acquisition. Now, that's not to say life doesn't get a whole lot easier if you put ROW acquisition on the table - and fortunately, all the ROW you'd need is either commercial or parking lots anyway.

This is a real, REAL rough estimation and would need to be cleaned up a lot. I'll add signage in to it later. It's a real rough estimation of how you would go about inserting new ramps to facilitate South Shore mall traffic and keep 37 entry/exit traffic segregated from through traffic.
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Old 03-23-2015, 04:23 PM   #2
vanshnookenraggen
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New and Expanded Highways

Lord knows that the vast majority of us here on archBoston (at least the ones who post) are pro transit. But the truth is for the region to work it needs good highways. The issue we face today isn't ramming highways through low income neighborhoods but keeping the ones we have from falling apart or being totally overwhelmed by traffic they weren't designed for. I'd like this thread to be for new ideas for highways, whether reconfiguring an interchange, rerouting a highway, or even building a brand new road. Go crazy.

If, however, there is an actual plan by the MassDOT to rebuild a highway or interchange that should be its own thread. This should be just for our ideas.
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Old 03-23-2015, 09:07 PM   #3
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

Well, with all the talk about reform before revenue for the MBTA, I don't see why highways should be immune to that analysis.

Should we not be discussing fix-it-first, reforming highway finances, and other such topics? After all, highways are a massive "money loser" (in the same sense as the T), and arguably the deferred maintenance backlog is a larger dollar amount.
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Old 03-27-2015, 10:07 AM   #4
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

these are not highway reforms, BUT (and caveat: i have mixed feelings about the consequences of some of these actions) i would propose many road changes (new roads, widening roads, or changing designation of direction)... i dont think boston itself needs any more highways (though the suburbs really are going to need to do something about arterials since all metro-boston development seems to consist of dead end/no outlet projects without any new road connections), but many traffic issues could be solved with slight alterations of certain road allignments or changing parking or direction.
- restore street grids through housing projects in bromley (more centre<-> heath cnnxns), mission hill (reconnect smith, extend gurney st to ruggles), basically everything in the dudley area (reconnect tremont/columbus to shawmut/washington), and south end (multiple rds interrupted)
- eliminate the ridiculous sudden change of one-way direction that exists for no good reason other than neighborhood influence in many cities in towns (somerville - lowell st et al), south boston, south end, dorchester (the planned east/west sts, eg park)
- as mentioned elsewhere, new roads across the pike to beacon yards; ensure through connections from these roads all the way to north harvard by the stadium
- with great reservation and trepidation, consider re-aligning marcella/townsend to ritchie st and eliminating parking to allow for a logical connection from JP to Kane Sq and Dot Ave (they blew the opprtunity to widen quincy st a little as they now have just redveloped all the property on it - and i would also support this as a cyclist since it's the most direct (yet terrifying) way to get from JP to the dorchester coast)
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Old 03-27-2015, 11:51 AM   #5
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

While not perfect, Virginia's PPP HOT lanes seem a model that should be adapted to our Highways.

You can't toll your old interstates, but you can let them choke up (during rush hour) and overlay them with free-flowing HOT lanes.

Your EasyPass has a 2-position switch: Regular and Carpool. Switching it to Carpool allows you to claim a free trip on behalf of your HOV-3 carload. Anything else pays a demand-variable toll.

The real beauty of HOT lanes is that they make express-bus services really work.

We need reversible, free-flowing pairs of HOT lanes (paired with express bus service) in these corridors:

Northside I-93: Anderson/Woburn (or Roosevelt Circle in Medford)
Northside US-1: From the Rt Rotary
Northwest US-3 to/from NH Line and again on Rt 2 from Lexington to Alewife
Southside: Taunton to South Station via Rt 24
Southside: Plymouth to South Station via US 3
(if we get a new Cape canal crossing, HOT is the way to go)

and it'd be good to have the all around 128
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Old 03-27-2015, 12:31 PM   #6
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

If possible, I'd recommend forcing a merge prior to the entry of any HOT lanes that are built. Otherwise, you simply merge into existing traffic and this backs up the express lane. Think of the difference between the exit from the 93 South HOV onto the Zakim and the SExpy HOV into the split. If you force the express way down to three lanes - say at granite ave or FBP, then you remove a bottleneck for the behavior you are encouraging (HOV, Express Bus).
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Old 03-27-2015, 01:44 PM   #7
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

I would like to see 290 in Worcester put below grade/ tunneled for the short stretch from Grafton street to MLK boulevard. It would make a big difference opening up the area around Union Station with new developable parcels, and would enhance the visual connectivity with the Shrewsbury street area. It's also a bit of a safety issue, as the viaduct in that location is on a slight curve and is hazardous when it ices up.


http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opi..._road_closures

On the other hand, it is ridiculous to suggest replacing a section of highway that was recently redone, there's still plenty of other developable lots in the area, and the elevated rail lines would still separate Union Station from the rest of downtown.
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Old 03-29-2015, 12:42 AM   #8
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

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Originally Posted by Commuting Boston Student View Post
It doesn't.

Fixing the Braintree Split requires a whole bunch of exit ramp reconfiguration, but I'm not convinced that it's an implausible project even if you assume that there's going to be zero ROW acquisition. Now, that's not to say life doesn't get a whole lot easier if you put ROW acquisition on the table - and fortunately, all the ROW you'd need is either commercial or parking lots anyway.
Here's my version of a fix:

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Old 10-04-2015, 10:09 PM   #9
Joel N. Weber II
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HOV lanes vs congestion charges vs autopilot

Pouring a huge amount of concrete for HOV lanes because we can't find the political will for a congestion charge seems rather expensive. Maybe we should avoid the HOV lane expense until after the MBTA's debt is paid off, and maybe the congestion charge could be a stopgap. (Sort of like how municipalities in Massachusetts can enforce their zoning once there's enough affordable housing. Probably all zero of them.)

There's also a chance that if we started the environmental study on the HOV lane construction today, we might have self driving cars before the environmental study is even done. When Elon Musk claims we might have fully autonomous self driving cars in three years, there's always the chance that he might be right, although the track record on releasing the autosteering software for the Model S is somewhat underwhelming; on the other hand, it's not clear to me that the initial release of the autosteering software would necessarily be inadequate to shorten the following distance if you have a cluster of Teslas in a lane.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:54 AM   #10
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

As far as I'm concerned, get ride of HOV lane and create real breakdown lanes. That will do more for daily flow than HOV does.
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Old 10-06-2015, 07:57 AM   #11
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Re: HOV lanes vs congestion charges vs autopilot

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Originally Posted by Joel N. Weber II View Post
Pouring a huge amount of concrete for HOV lanes because we can't find the political will for a congestion charge seems rather expensive. Maybe we should avoid the HOV lane expense until after the MBTA's debt is paid off, and maybe the congestion charge could be a stopgap. (Sort of like how municipalities in Massachusetts can enforce their zoning once there's enough affordable housing. Probably all zero of them.)

There's also a chance that if we started the environmental study on the HOV lane construction today, we might have self driving cars before the environmental study is even done. When Elon Musk claims we might have fully autonomous self driving cars in three years, there's always the chance that he might be right, although the track record on releasing the autosteering software for the Model S is somewhat underwhelming; on the other hand, it's not clear to me that the initial release of the autosteering software would necessarily be inadequate to shorten the following distance if you have a cluster of Teslas in a lane.
The MBTA operates as a separate agency- debt for the MBTA is not the same as state debt.

Even if cars are fully autonomous and self driving within 3 years, it would still need to be made a standard feature and then there would be a 15+ year delay until the vehicle fleet turns over (Only about 15 MM new cars are sold every year out of 250+MM cars on the road).
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Old 10-11-2015, 07:55 PM   #12
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self driving carpools (and MBTA debt)

You don't have to wait until every last automobile in North Adams gets upgraded to self driving to get self driving cars to make a difference with highway congestion.

Consider what happens if you simply assign 1000 self driving cars to a single congested highway corridor.

(Tesla expects their average weekly production in 2015 to be around 1000 vehicles. They'll probably be doubling that every year or two for at least the next several years.)

Let's asume those cars are fully autonmous and can each travel to four different residential addresses to form a carpool. (In the US, carpooling currently seems to take two forms: one is that you have a fixed travel time every weekday with a fixed set of people you always travel with; and then there's casual carpooling. People considering the former tend to decide they need a single occupancy vehicle if they might need to leave work early on rare occasions for childcare, or might need to stay late occasionally to finish a long task, and the latter seems to have fixed pick up / drop off points that could just as well be served by 40' buses driven by transit agency employees. It's likely that the computerized driving will provide more flexibility for carpools to be different each day so that carpoolers can leave work at whatever time is convenient.)

If we distribute the 1000 self driving vehicles across two consecutive peak hours in the morning commute and two consecutive peak hours in the evening commute, that's 500 vehicles per hour and 2000 people per hour. If we ignore the possibility of self driving cars following more closely than human drivers can safely manage, and set a goal of 1500 vehicles per hour (which I believe is what the Boston MPO's I-93 north of Boston HOV study concluded a lane could carry while operating efficently), we can have 500 self driving carpool vehicles plus 1000 conventional vehicles per hour sharing a lane, carrying 3000 people per hour, double what we would have gotten in a conventional well flowing SOV lane, and the capital cost at $70,000 per base Tesla Model S times 1000 vehicles is around $70 million.

Maybe you can just ask the Boston MPO whether they can figure out how to build another lane for $70 million, but that also fails to take into account that each $70,000 carpool Tesla replaces four vehicles that probably would have cost 4 x $20,000 or more, and then buying electricity for the Tesla is going to cost a lot less than buying gas for the $20,000 cars, so instead of trying to charge the $70 million to the concrete budget, you might be able to just have it replace what people were going to spend on their cars anyway.

Some of these assumptions might be slightly off; I believe there are a few places in the traffic counts published on the CTPS website where actual lanes in Massachusetts actually handle 2000 vehicles per hour, and some of the Tesla carpool vehicles would probably be occupied by people who are currently carpooling in $20,000 vehicles and putting up with inflexibility as to when they leave work. But on the other hand, I haven't been exploring the possibility of the Tesla carpool vehicles operating at 1 second or .5 second headways instead of roughly 2 second headways (are we allowed to say headways when we're talking about highway following distance and not transit?) or the possibility that the $35,000 Tesla might materialize. And if a new lane is an HOV/T lane where there previously was no HOV lane, perhaps some new conventional carpools would form, but the traffic counts I remember seeing for the HOV lane on I-93 through Somerville suggest that it's only at about half capacity at the peak hour; if you simply got everyone currently using that lane to switch to Teslas that wouldn't be much of a win, so maybe there you'd need 3000-5000 self driving carpool vehicles to really make a difference there. Then again, currently two people in the vehicle counts as a carpool, and I'm thinking about what happens with carpools that would typically have four people per vehicle.

And I'm not sure how there's any difference between ``MBTA'' debt and ``Massachusetts'' debt when we consider who is ultimately responsible for paying for it.
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Old 10-11-2015, 09:15 PM   #13
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

What if you built a mega "tesla" that could like put those 4 people in with the people from a bunch of other "tesla"s all headed into the city into one compact unit, and then use that mega "tesla" running in some kind of separated ROW with other mega "teslas" to maximize efficiency. Maybe even run the mega "tesla" on some kind of parallel metal rails?

We already have an established system of rail which "relatively" efficicently distributes riders into and around the city. Even assuming that the funds/tech were actually available to create this, then you still will eventually hit the issues of congestion and shitty city design which sprouted from the regular old automobile. Self driving cars will never be able to feature the same capacity as a rail system, even with all the carpooling incentives in the world.

What WOULD be an improvement is the use of self-driving cars/vans to perform like today's Taxis/Ubers and suburban bus routes. These could easily extend the reach of commuter rail and rapid transit to car-centric areas of the suburbs to reduce the effects of suburban car commuters on the downtown core. Plus you could set up some nifty PRT-esque schemes with vehicles that can complement transit by providing access to areas like low density office parks that thrive in the car-centric suburbs.
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:35 AM   #14
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

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Originally Posted by Scalziand View Post
I would like to see 290 in Worcester put below grade/ tunneled for the short stretch from Grafton street to MLK boulevard. It would make a big difference opening up the area around Union Station with new developable parcels, and would enhance the visual connectivity with the Shrewsbury street area. It's also a bit of a safety issue, as the viaduct in that location is on a slight curve and is hazardous when it ices up.


http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opi..._road_closures

On the other hand, it is ridiculous to suggest replacing a section of highway that was recently redone, there's still plenty of other developable lots in the area, and the elevated rail lines would still separate Union Station from the rest of downtown.
I've been seeing this post occasionally when this thread pops up and it peaked my interest. I finally mapped this out, but extended it up to north of Lincoln St. and South to Ashmont Ave/Millbury St. (2.3 miles)



https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?m...7Y&usp=sharing

This would allow Worcester to reconnect many of the streets that was dissected when 290 came through. - In total, that's about 15. I haven't bothered doing the parcels yet - most of 290 in that stretch was former neighborhoods of triple deckers.

It would be interesting to say the least......

[/now back to your regularly scheduled ArchBoston thread]
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Old 10-12-2015, 11:50 PM   #15
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

We'll probably see the Blackstone Canal dug up before 290 gets buried.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:02 AM   #16
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

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We'll probably see the Blackstone Canal dug up before 290 gets buried.
I'm with you there, but I'm ballparking the canal for within the next 20 years. They're already doing the studies. It would likely only be a matter of funding.
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:01 AM   #17
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

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Originally Posted by cbrett View Post
What if you built a mega "tesla" that could like put those 4 people in with the people from a bunch of other "tesla"s all headed into the city into one compact unit, and then use that mega "tesla" running in some kind of separated ROW with other mega "teslas" to maximize efficiency. Maybe even run the mega "tesla" on some kind of parallel metal rails?

We already have an established system of rail which "relatively" efficicently distributes riders into and around the city. Even assuming that the funds/tech were actually available to create this, then you still will eventually hit the issues of congestion and shitty city design which sprouted from the regular old automobile. Self driving cars will never be able to feature the same capacity as a rail system, even with all the carpooling incentives in the world.

What WOULD be an improvement is the use of self-driving cars/vans to perform like today's Taxis/Ubers and suburban bus routes. These could easily extend the reach of commuter rail and rapid transit to car-centric areas of the suburbs to reduce the effects of suburban car commuters on the downtown core. Plus you could set up some nifty PRT-esque schemes with vehicles that can complement transit by providing access to areas like low density office parks that thrive in the car-centric suburbs.
Self driving on demand taxis (with variable rates based on peak demand?) Could greatly improve and enhance transportation to and from stations. Small vehicles with higher frequency of service are good for non-peak low volume times. Mixed with shuttle buses in between. Eliminating the expense of the driver is the key, so you have to be able to dispatch cars and buses without drivers.

Dedicated lanes for AVs are impractical. What we should be aiming for are vehicles that can make more efficient use of existing lanes
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Old 12-29-2016, 04:25 PM   #18
Joel N. Weber II
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Highway 88 bridges

On Highway 88 in Westport MA, how do the traffic volumes on the bridges over highways 6 and 177 compare to the traffic volumes on the former Casey Overpass?
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Old 12-29-2016, 04:43 PM   #19
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Cloverleafs vs Diverging Diamond Interchanges and bicycle infrastructure

I'd like to see Massachusetts try to phase out all Cloverleaf interchanges

Where one freeway crosses another, that requires building a pair of left turn flyover ramps, but where a freeway crosses a not-freeway, I think we should be focused on building diverging diamond interchanges

Some places where we particularly might want to look at integrating diverging diamond interchanges with bicycle infrastructure:

At the 110 / I-95 interchange in Amesbury, a diverging diamond interchange should be able to eliminate the I-95 northbound to 110 westbound ramp, which should allow the 110 to I-95 northbound ramp to be relocated closer to I-95, potentially freeing up space for part of a bike path to connect the Salisbury Ghost Trail to the bike path being built as part of the I-95 Merrimack River bridge replacement project. Additionally, if a diverging diamond interchange can handle the 110 traffic with just one travel lane in each direction, putting a bike path down the middle of 110 under I-95 might be an effective way to connect the Salisbury Ghost Trail and the I-95 bike path to a side path along the north edge of 110 in the area to the west of the DDI to connect to the Amesbury Riverwalk.

Converting the 113 / I-95 interchange in Newburyport to a diverging diamond interchange, dropping 113 to one lane in each direction, and putting a bike path down the middle of 113 through that interchange might work to connect the I-95 bike path to points south; this would presumably involve building a new bike path just the west of I-95 in the area south of 113, probably connecting to Woodman Park and possibly going through the City Forest parcel on the way to connecting to the programmed bike path through downtown Byfield.
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Old 12-29-2016, 05:54 PM   #20
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Re: New and Expanded Highways

I've never driven through a diverging diamond interchange but it does appear as if traffic could merge more smoothly although lights are now involved. The current cloverleaf interchanges are just terrible so almost anything would be an improvement.

It looks like Providence added one recently;
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Wa...!4d-71.4161671
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