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Old 11-13-2011, 07:23 AM   #41
BostonUrbEx
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Re: North-South Rail Link

The only problem is that it's right in line for the FED, and I doubt they'll let anything run under their building for ridiculous security purposes. But if it floats around it, into Fort Point, there's probably more utilities to relocate as the intended alignment was already cleared.
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forget it ever happening, its too great an idea.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:42 AM   #42
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Re: North-South Rail Link

Don't spend too much time on tis one

There will not be any new-start money requested by Mass DOT after the Green Line extensions for quite a whie

If you were to restart planning now -- the earliest that Mass DOT could get in line for funding is after 2020 which would mean an oppoerational tunnel in about 2030

But beasuse of the huge cost potential -- I doubt it will even be proposed -- all references to NS Tunnel have been deleted from the regional transportation planning docs which envision the next 20 years of road and rail projects -- I'd say its deader than Columbus Center
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Old 11-13-2011, 01:38 PM   #43
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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The only problem is that it's right in line for the FED, and I doubt they'll let anything run under their building for ridiculous security purposes. But if it floats around it, into Fort Point, there's probably more utilities to relocate as the intended alignment was already cleared.
Dot Ave. is the preferred alignment because the initial studies showed plowing through Dewey Sq. was too big a nightmare and had too many other building foundations to mitigate. It would go under the Post Office land with any new buildings on the property hugging Dot Ave. not infringing (remember, it's DEEP down and those storefronts are not going to be as tall as USPS. Would also be ever-so-slightly off-center with the large street-facing entrance of the expanded station angling it out to straddle the west bank of the Channel.

No way to do it without a mess of utilities, but they're squeezing it between the Silver Line tunnel which pre-clears it at the immediate jump-off point.

There's a reason why the SS approach is half or more of the total cost. Engineering (and waterproofing) under the Big Dig is a piece of cake by comparison, as is everything on the North Station end (incl. portal over land that's been RR yard for 150 years. Maybe last block around Canal St. where it pulls off the Artery, but NS/Garden itself is pre-provisioned. But SS is pain.


Quote:
Originally Posted by whighlander
Don't spend too much time on tis one

There will not be any new-start money requested by Mass DOT after the Green Line extensions for quite a whie

If you were to restart planning now -- the earliest that Mass DOT could get in line for funding is after 2020 which would mean an oppoerational tunnel in about 2030

But beasuse of the huge cost potential -- I doubt it will even be proposed -- all references to NS Tunnel have been deleted from the regional transportation planning docs which envision the next 20 years of road and rail projects -- I'd say its deader than Columbus Center
It hasn't been deleted. The State Implementation Plan only covers in-state projects realistically fundable by 2015, and the MPO 2035 plan only covers projects wholly contained in the MPO region not interstate projects. It's still on the Program for Mass Transportation ratified in 2010 as a Tier 1 project along with Silver Line Phase III and Urban Ring. The CLF is royally pissed off at the state's intransigence for constantly amending the SIP to drop the immediate funding commitments, but that doesn't delete them only move them back in the TBD category on how to proceed. It buys time to waste...that's it. PMT is next up for revision in 2015, and state Long Range Plan calls for progress on how to get the highest-priority projects beyond the current minimum amended onto the SIP (i.e. fixing the Forward Funding debacle and finding a meaningful debt relief plan to enable something, anything to happen). They can move to drop it or knock it to Tier 2--a.k.a. "effectively dead"--but they're the ones who sought it in the first place and that document is not a fake project prioritization. There are consequences for not walking the walk; we see it every day when the status quo never gets any better. Showing no spine definitely doesn't help for the Urban Ring where permanent "TBD" exile means getting their asses sued again.


The key challenge for the N-S Link, as outlined in the N-S Link study, is setting up the authority to manage it. The T can't do it...it's not an interstate agency, and it can't initiate out-of-district projects with its charter. This is why godawful South Coast Rail is godawful...the state SCR managers have to midwife the thing until the tax structure kicks in for the towns' share of funding and those municipalities officially join the district. As there's no funding, they're still on the other side of the wall and the T has to have some other surrogate handle until the towns join. They manage to run to T.F. Green and Wickford Jct. because RIDOT inked with clever legalese a new deal with them in the 90's for Providence subsity in which they "own" on paper every inch of service, labor, equipment, and staff beyond South Attleboro and reimburse the T for its "property" carried beyond district lines. Uncaps the potential for RI to employ the T as operator in its district and the T to make money off it. NH will soon chuck in a few hundred grand's subsidy per year too for poking the 1/2 mile across the border to Plaistow. Amtrak controls all track and dispatching on the T-owned NEC because the T isn't allowed to dabble in intercity HSR infrastructure their member towns don't have a say in. They 100% control stations and contribute up to their Providence Line usage level but Amtrak does all the track and dispatching.

A project that impacts every state and service on the NEC will have to do similar tricks on a much larger scale to let the T do what its unchangeable charter doesn't let it do. Which means a whole new regional transit authority that's a cross between how the Turnpike Authority/Massport had to manage the federal Big Dig project when MassHighway alone couldn't, and how Metro North is the decision-maker and center of power for all things on its system while CDOT, the MTA (in NY only), and NJ Transit are the actual tri-owners of 100% of the RR's assets (CDOT actually owning more total than the MTA). We don't have the benefit of transit authorities with full regional powers like New York metro does.

Now, this isn't nearly as big an undertaking as it sounds because the T's the dominant member agency and the project is ground zero of its district and state. Functionally it's their show and Amtrak's--an MA/fed joint--and they're collecting change for the paying commuters that originate elsewhere for operating. They only need a thin translation layer to interface with the outside world, and it would take a regional compact to implement things on the build side like electrification reaching those areas or commuter rail service rights (T and homegrown) from RI, NH, ME, etc. Not so much contributions for the concrete. The feds have repeatedly--and still repeatedly--said they are interested in playing ball if the state can take the lead on planning this. Sticking a funding number on it is physically impossible until there's a physical way for someone to administer it because the T can't be the initiator.

All MA can do right now is get the EIS out of the way on its (and the T's) own soil. Which is why they've been tasked with doing just that way ahead of time. When they can get a recommended build, then it's time for the fed ground game and all their help brokering this regional compact. MA has got to show willingness to interface with its neighbors before the feds can invest. This is exactly how the Gateway Tunnel came together in NY/NJ with way more complex politics. They successfully rebounded from the dealbreaker of Gov. Christie's cancellation of ARC in just a few months' time.

I don't want to hear this can't be done here; no New England neighbors are even 1/8 as politically disagreeable as NY/NJ are, and this project doesn't have nearly the complexities or expense of that one. We set the goal and have kept it on the books; we get what defeatism buys you if we take a pass on our share of the NEC master plan. Namely, south-of-D.C. gets all the long-term investment that everything northeast of NYC/Hartford is being offered now.



BTW...the fed/regional investment makes the 3 superfluous portals even more insane. If those are only MBTA suburb-to-suburb service with no potential ever for interstate/intercity, we "own" the cost for the potentially clusterfuckiest >half of the project. Same folly as the state expecting the incredible inflating South Coast Rail to get twice the fed appropriation as Springfield Line HSR for a service no out-of-staters or Amtrak trains will ever use. We got a good thing going keeping the project scope from creeping past the major intercity trunks and/or possibly moving all that traffic through downtown on new rapid transit. Its focus gets totally incoherent when they start casting it as a one-seat ride from Greenbush to Leominster. It's self-defeating...and looky here, it's another mission creep project they're expending more energy defeating than pursuing!

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Old 11-15-2011, 09:19 AM   #44
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post

It hasn't been deleted. The State Implementation Plan only covers in-state projects realistically fundable by 2015, and the MPO 2035 plan only covers projects wholly contained in the MPO region not interstate projects. It's still on the Program for Mass Transportation ratified in 2010 as a Tier 1 project along with Silver Line Phase III and Urban Ring. The CLF is royally pissed off at the state's intransigence for constantly amending the SIP to drop the immediate funding commitments, but that doesn't delete them only move them back in the TBD category on how to proceed. It buys time to waste...that's it. PMT is next up for revision in 2015, and state Long Range Plan calls for progress on how to get the highest-priority projects beyond the current minimum amended onto the SIP (i.e. fixing the Forward Funding debacle and finding a meaningful debt relief plan to enable something, anything to happen).
F-Line -- you are very good at the details -- But the reality is of the following at best only one will have a chance to start by 2020:
1) N-S link
2) South Coast commuter rail
3) Blue Line to Lynn

My bet is on the Blue Line to Lynn mosly because of the re-development of sufflok Downs / Wonderland which is being assured by the Legislature's passage of the cassino bill today

If there is a 2nd new start after 2015 and before 2020 it would be the much cheaper South Coast commuter rail

I will stand by the statement that the following are good as dead -- certainly on advanced life-support with flat-lining brainwaves:
NS rail link;
Red/Blue LIne connection at Charles/MGH;
Rail version of Urban Ring;
Silver Line Phase III

all are horendously expensive when measured by return on the investment in the context of the new much leaner fiscal climate

the only caveat is -- if there is a plan incorporating significant non-Fed sources of funding and in particular if the private sector will get involved in funding -- then both the old and newer projects could be funded and go forward -- but then the premises behind the projects need to be reevaluated --- as times they have changed
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:37 AM   #45
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Re: North-South Rail Link

I like the idea of getting private investment in infrastructure, and I think you may be on to something that should at least be explored with the casinos.

Why shouldn't a suffolk downs casino if built invest in (not entirely forcibly) in the blue line extension, or improved blue line to airport connections. Hell they should make the silver line (in addition to breaking up the terminal stops) have some go to the blue line so people could get to the casino from the convention center without having to go silver-red-green/orange-blue. I do like the idea of a casino at suffolk personally, but the distance from the convention center has been a concern.

Also, if a casino goes in downtown new bedford, wouldnt it be in their interest to support the South Coast Rail in the same business development type way.
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:30 PM   #46
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: North-South Rail Link

The Fed aspect makes N-S Link hard to pin down on when it can happen. MA simply can't build it without full-force national funding, and Gateway Project in NYC absolutely HAS to be settled first for traffic capacity to move east in volumes meriting the Link. What we have to watch first is how fast Gateway moves forward with the scaled-down ARC Tunnel components it recycles. It doesn't have to be re-EIS'd except past the Manhattan touchdown where it goes to Penn instead of the canceled new ARC station. So if it gets fast-tracked during the next Congressional term with an aggressive construction schedule, you can take that as confirmation they're moving with mega-urgency. Proposed schedule is 2020 opening (+3-5 years by default). Then they have to turn eyes to what they're going to do about all the trains east of there. Plus the matter of who's next for a megaproject investment after NYC because East Side Access and 2nd Ave. Subway Phase I are both opening in 4 years. Because if pork levels aren't maintained, they go away forever, and the Admin. has signaled with all this infrastructure campaign PR that its line in the sand are no cuts and desired increases.

Is the state going to be willing to make a push by 2015-17 when this window of opportunity opens? Or are they going to continue running away from it with Big Dig PTSD? If they're going to bury head in pillow and keep screaming "NO! NO! NO!" at the modest prospect of revisiting the plan with more realism and committing to a draft EIS, then the post-NYC attention goes to some other part of the country. Forever.

Nobody's saying this is going to be built. The recommendation could be no. This is much more basic: do they even want a dialogue on big ideas to boost the state? Or are they content on closing the books on the Boston/MA renaissance? They're giving all indications the latter is the path of least resistance. Dukakis isn't some railfan fixated on this. He's one of the ones who got the renaissance going with all that got redeveloped downwind from the Big Dig. He knows it's freezing everything in place and abdicating all sorts of private and federal future investment if we shrink away from any more big ideas. This is the biggest public works project left meriting joint fed investment and widespread interstate support. SCR doesn't even score a blip in half its own state, let alone outside. They need to at least show willingness to talk about it and sketch up a coherent-looking proposal.

It's leadership, not construction. Do our leaders want anything badly enough to pursue it? If they don't, we know how mediocre our future is going to be. Here's a big litmus test of that they'll be presented with in 5 years when Amtrak pops that very first question, "So...I got shit to do. What are you game for?"

I want to have hope that somebody who's occupying the seat of power after this bleh crew leaves has some initiative and desire for something better. Hope is a good thing. If they quash all hope pre-emptively this isn't going to be a very enjoyable state to grow old in. For any of the talent infusion the renaissance brought here the last 20 years.
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:49 PM   #47
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Re: North-South Rail Link

The one and only solution are gondolas.

Any other suggestion is just waste of time and bandwidth.

Quite frankly, theres zero reason to want to move trains across downtown.

Want Portland-NYC service? Excellent. Do it via worcester. Shorter trip too.
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:59 PM   #48
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Re: North-South Rail Link

I agree with Jass. Am I missing something? I don't clearly see how the NS rail link would benefit Boston - especially compared to rapid transit expansions etc.
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Old 11-15-2011, 02:10 PM   #49
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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F-Line -- you are very good at the details -- But the reality is of the following at best only one will have a chance to start by 2020:
1) N-S link
2) South Coast commuter rail
3) Blue Line to Lynn

My bet is on the Blue Line to Lynn mosly because of the re-development of sufflok Downs / Wonderland which is being assured by the Legislature's passage of the cassino bill today

If there is a 2nd new start after 2015 and before 2020 it would be the much cheaper South Coast commuter rail

I will stand by the statement that the following are good as dead -- certainly on advanced life-support with flat-lining brainwaves:
NS rail link;
Red/Blue LIne connection at Charles/MGH;
Rail version of Urban Ring;
Silver Line Phase III

all are horendously expensive when measured by return on the investment in the context of the new much leaner fiscal climate

the only caveat is -- if there is a plan incorporating significant non-Fed sources of funding and in particular if the private sector will get involved in funding -- then both the old and newer projects could be funded and go forward -- but then the premises behind the projects need to be reevaluated --- as times they have changed
Re: other projects. SCR in no way will be ready by '20. If at all. I think the only chance it's got is if they break it into phases: Taunton by '20, FR/NB by indeterminate point next decade and scaled-back planning until then. They're doing it ass-backwards by throwing gobs of money and attention at the end of the line, not taking care of how they're gonna get there, and covering ears at the fantasy that this was ever capable of being constructed as a monolith. The just-completed EIS for the Stoughton route will expire in 2021 if not built. With probably one-third $B thrown down the drain on consultants. The other 2 routes are nonstarters, and Amtrak will never let us revisit it as a cheaper NEC branch off Attleboro. They have to rally around that constraint and come to grips with the fact that Taunton and FR/NB are separate projects and that the FR/NB is a 2020's project, if ever. (Taunton's a good extension on the merits, BTW...not my #1 choice--Lowell-Nashua is by far highest ROI--but solid and fully in-district serving).

Blue-Lynn is the biggest ridership by far extension. A little bigger than GLX. I encourage looking at the project docs and state PMT because it's jaw-dropping. A later extension Lynn-Salem is jaw-dropping. There is no purely in-state project that'll haul in more riders than that, and Red-Blue is of course a contingency. Also, they get their asses sued again by the CLF if they don't start moving on either. Yeah, that inconvenient fact. As they have no substitute projects left to water it down with, they have no way out of this jam. Sticking head in ground with "NO! NO! NO!" denial is not an option. They can't not pursue funding when they committed to pursuing funding. The only deferrals they can get is if they pursue it and can't get it. Not even trying doesn't work.


SL Phase III and Urban Ring need full-on redesigns before anyone would commit to those. They're badly needed, but the designs they puked out are such born failures nobody in their right mind would support them. An intermediate BRT phase for UR II, then rip out all the busways and put in rail? Any federal power taking a look at that piece of crap would first ask the question, "Why does this need 3 phases when you can cut out the middleman and do exactly the same thing in 2?" Ditto the prospect of building a crippled SL tunnel that destroys parts of the Common, South End, and Chinatown when an LRT extension off an existing tunnel would do 1/8 the disruption at 1/4 the cost and 4 times the service quality.

I think they were so caught up in the BRT frenzy that they actually thought they had to modify these from the logical alternatives to get funding. Inner-city rail was passe in the mid-90's through Bush's first term. When that failed they kept flogging the same plans as self-sabotage, then scuttled them. The BRT frenzy's over now. If anybody's still considering it the suicidal billion-dollar Hartford busway will drive the final stake in it and all other cities' proposals will get scrapped or rewritten as rail.

We should've done the same years ago, but then we get into this same will-to-live question with the leadership. They can say they still want to build these, revise the designs to something realistic, present a case for funding, and see if that best foot forward succeeds (if not, then oh well at least we know it's conclusively impossible). Or they can cut and run, not try, get sued for violating their own agreements, take death by thousand cuts from angry citizens screwed over one too many times, go catatonic, and watch the region's growth slow to a crawl.

Trying to put a best case forward isn't bankrupting. Never ever doing that is bankrupting. It's why we can't fund the transit system we've got. If nobody in charge pays so much as lip service to giving a crap, they reap what they sow. I fully agree that the things that will get funded with the tighter purse-strings of this era are the projects that present the best case for public-private partnerships, really well-integrated long-term TOD coattails, and well-argued justification for benefiting the federal infrastructure at large. New York has 3 ongoing rail megaprojects--East Side Access and 2nd Ave. Subway half complete, Penn/Moynihan station partially funded and moving forward--with pretty good shot of getting Gateway funded and fair shot at getting a transit berth on the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge. They've kept that gravy train going by making supremely well-argued pitches stroking those private and federal advantages. California is getting a terrifyingly expensive HSR line built the same way; the pitch was so nationally and privately good it outslugs the very real risk of it turning into a Big Dig. It can be done; it is being done today in Austerityland U.S.A. And it's going to be someone else's turn in line when the ongoing NYC projects are done in 5 years.

So why don't we want nice things any longer?

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Old 11-15-2011, 05:07 PM   #50
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post
The Fed aspect makes N-S Link hard to pin down on when it can happen. MA simply can't build it without full-force national funding,...

Is the state going to be willing to make a push by 2015-17 when this window of opportunity opens? Or are they going to continue running away from it with Big Dig PTSD? ....

Nobody's saying this is going to be built. The recommendation could be no. This is much more basic: do they even want a dialogue on big ideas to boost the state? Or are they content on closing the books on the Boston/MA renaissance? They're giving all indications the latter is the path of least resistance. Dukakis isn't some railfan fixated on this. He's one of the ones who got the renaissance going with all that got redeveloped downwind from the Big Dig....

It's leadership, not construction. Do our leaders want anything badly enough to pursue it? If they don't, we know how mediocre our future is going to be. Here's a big litmus test of that they'll be presented with in 5 years when Amtrak pops that very first question, "So...I got shit to do. What are you game for?"

I want to have hope that somebody who's occupying the seat of power after this bleh crew leaves has some initiative and desire for something better. Hope is a good thing. If they quash all hope pre-emptively this isn't going to be a very enjoyable state to grow old in. For any of the talent infusion the renaissance brought here the last 20 years.
First -- I'd question the association of Dukakoid thinking with anything positive -- but lets defer that one

2nd -- i doblt that Amtrak is going to be searching for places to spend money anytime soon -- its deeper in the hole that the T and has a totallly unsupportable mixed mission -- my guess is Amtrak will be replaced by a NEC corporation and some Fed Highway like process for support for rail maintennce with long haul trains opperated like Disney Cruises -- but again for another time and place

Here -- I want t concentrate on the motivation for the obsession with N-S Rail Link:

F-line do you know how many seats you need to ride to get from Heathrow to Buckhingham Palace or St. Paul's in London -- let alone from the Eurostar from Notre Dame de Paris to Canary Wharf or conncting from Paddington to Victoria [" Take the tube (Bakerloo line to Oxford Circus, change to Victoria Line) or bus (no.36). Some shops at Paddington; more at Victoria, but main shopping streets are Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street. Get off tube or bus at Oxford Circus for these. ']

The answer is that there is nothing special about 1 seat rides from Bangor to DC or certainly Wilmingron MA to Franklin MA or Fitchburg to Plymouth or even from Worcester to Salem

The real answer is connectivity -- just as cell phones and Skype have practically made the old wired POTS obsolete -- what you need is frequency and ease of making the interchange -- can you get there easier by T than by taking a taxi or by walking than by taking another T segment -- that ultmately is the relevant discriminant

Obviously the trade-off criteria [in effect the return on your investment in time and physical effort] depends on the weather, your physical condition, how much stuff you are dragging with you, how sweaty you can afford to be at your destinaton, etc.

I've made a lot of connections both here in the US, in Europe and in Asia -- some even though simple on paper are horrendous and other look difficult but work out well

Specifically -- For the Muliple B$ it would take to dig-up a tunnel for high speed rail under Boston -- much can be done to improve connectivity:

1] Red to Blue Line cnnection via passenger tunnel with moving walkway from DTX to State
2] Direct weatherprroof passenger connection from North Station rail platforms to Orange Line -- enabling:
a) 1 seat connection from Down East to NEC at Back Bay
b) 2 seat connection from a northern commuter or Down East to Southern Commuter at South Station
3] more connectivity for Cambridge particularly near Kendall / MIT
4] some sort of connectivity to Haaaahhvd and other stuff to come in Alston / Brighton {New Balance development)
5) better connectivity to Longwood Med / Fenway College area
6] better connectivity in and to SPID -- could be via Gerbil tubes since a lot of the underground has highways running through it
7] better connectivity to UMass Boston area where a lot of development will be happpening (e.g. Globe site, Bayside Expo site, etc)
8] better connectivity to Chelsea
9] Blue Line to Salem via Lynn
10] higher speeds and frequency of trains to/from Worcester

I stopped at 10 there are probably half a dozen more that meet my test -- including doing something with South Weymouth

in my humble opinion -- all of the above today are much more valuable in terms of ROI for the Global HUB than the N/S Rail Tunnel or the South Coast Rail (only exception to that is better connection to Foxboro at the Stadium area)

I suggest that the focus should be on enhancing and fostering what is developing rather than wishful thinking (you'll note that my wished for Red LIne through Lexington is nowhere to be seen)

Last edited by whighlander; 11-15-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:42 PM   #51
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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I agree with Jass. Am I missing something? I don't clearly see how the NS rail link would benefit Boston - especially compared to rapid transit expansions etc.
Imagine the amazing subway extensions we could do for the cost of an NS rail link. We could build the most fanciful of Van's cool maps.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:10 PM   #52
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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Imagine the amazing subway extensions we could do for the cost of an NS rail link. We could build the most fanciful of Van's cool maps.
South Coast Fail trade-in would buy us a Red-Blue, Blue-Lynn, Green-Porter mini-extension, and a next-generation signal system on the Red Line for 2-minute headways. We don't have to think that far in the future to check off some items on our Top 5 lists.



N-S isn't a state-sponsored project; it's state-designed and managed, federally-executed like the Big Dig. It's no more a Massachusetts-only project than the Amtrak 2030 version of an NEC shoreline bypass is a Connecticut project. But it's through our transit system and under our city so we gotta be the ones to design it. If the feds think they're going to be able to kick-start mass infrastructure renewal, the rail component (unlike Obama's first draft of the network) is going all-in on the NEC, California next, Chicago hub a distant third. There will be some transit "monument" megaproject as part of that to politically justify the fed initiative's existence. NYC's had its fair share. They will be looking for proposals from somebody else for a change.

I am in no way suggesting that the T should de-prioritize local transit projects over this. What I'm saying is that they have to be ready to go grab their share if/when the infrastructure investment materializes. Investment begets investment. NYC is getting a regional project, East Side Access, built simultaneous with its biggest-of-all local transit projects, the 2nd Ave. Subway. And getting a national project, Penn/Moynihan, underway. And modifying another regional project, NJ Transit-centric ARC, from one too unfocused to work into a scaled-back and more focused national project, Gateway, that's got pretty good chance of getting a starter earmark from this current crop of cripple-fighting nihilists in Congress.

This is exactly how Massachusetts had the Big Dig beget Silver Line Transitway, EIS on the other SL parts, the Transit Commitments inked, and all the plans drawn up for this laundry list of projects they're now running screaming from. Would any of that have been possible had we not reeled in a national megaproject? Would anyone have been in a planning mindset in the first place? No...before the Big Dig the T was abandoning routes, figuring out how much duct tape it could hoard to keep its broken streetcar fleet operating another week, skimping on paint and changing light bulbs, and wondering how it was going to keep half the commuter rail from falling out of service due to abominable track conditions. Sound familiar? Things don't happen in a vacuum. Momentum is wholly systemic, both the good and the bad kind.

In my opinion, we're never getting better inner-city transit circulation if we can't pivot off a megaproject. Nobody in Congress cares about the Urban Ring or 10-years-too-late SL III. Just as nobody could possibly care less about SCR. This is the only one they'll care about, and it's harder to make them care about it post-Big Dig. All they have to do here is study a a design less incoherent than the one they had before, and do a prelim EIS around South Station. That does not cost a billion dollars. Grants are always available for a study. It prevents no other projects if there's a strategy to use this as a momentum-builder for investment in other projects. And it doesn't have to get built if it doesn't look favorable enough. Just like the NYC Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel got punted as their third tunnel boring plan (but they'll be happy to resubmit that one if Boston's embracing transit austerity).

So why throw up the white flag? Does this state want to permanently be in a position where it bleeds that much more money getting sued on things they committed by law to build. And racking up ever more costly deferred maintenance problems with every day it doesn't address the D'Alessandro Report. And expecting it can go "Mommy, help?" at brain-farting themselves into a corner on South Coast Fail? Inertia's a bitch. They either change it and learn to play some offense, or our infrastructure goes into permanent decline and they're unable to play defense. Other cities get this. When did we give up on it?




Re: Amtrak or somebody's soundbite this week about privatization. . .

It's useless speculating what's going to happen to Amtrak because that literally changes the next time party control in Congress changes. We're also in the middle of a political ID upheaval decade like the 30's, 60's, and 80's were. Ideological alignments are not going to look like they do today in 8 years. This polarization is endgame for a break in eras just like those last ones were. We know total paralysis is going to be the rule for the next couple Congresses. Congresscritters' bottom-line will always remain their district pork, and payouts are going to trump ideology. We'll be building shit and not just doing unsexy bridge replacements with the money. I'm dubious on whether it's ever going to be Eisenhower or Roosevelt levels, but it'll probably be more than the moving-backwards status quo and each class of infrastructure will get some safe representative to show "results" for their windfall. For rail, that's NEC and whoever on it wants most badly to build a monument.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:09 PM   #53
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Re: North-South Rail Link

F-line of course given your asumptions of money availability there should be contingency plans

But looking at it from a top-level (50k ft) Fiscal status -- for the next decade plus given good incentives to improve growth the Fed is going to be cutting and not growing most of the various accounts

There really is no more money for anyting except the most basis government functions especially forthings such as Amtrak unless and until the GDP has been able to grows at a rate of at least 4 or 5 % for a decade -- you can't tax the economy more and borrowing is out of the question

The best thing that the Mass DOT can do for the next 5 years is to do background planning for some time in the future -- taking into account not only old settlements with the CLF but the modern realities ofthe new economy in places such as the SPID -- all the while cutting waste and improving coordnation and shared effeciencies among the various parts of the DOT and getting as much of the old equipment and infrastructure into a state of good repair

Thats why my list of 10 is not very similar to plans put forth in 1968 at the birth of the T, or the 1990's with the Big Dig amelioration agreements -- and 10 years from now it might be even different again
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:26 AM   #54
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Re: North-South Rail Link

F-Line, I think your analysis regarding Fed funding is correct, I'm only saying that if there were to be that kind of money for rail transit, I'd rather the Fed be interested in local RT funding.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:55 AM   #55
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F-Line, I think your analysis regarding Fed funding is correct, I'm only saying that if there were to be that kind of money for rail transit, I'd rather the Fed be interested in local RT funding.
That's true, but it's art of the deal. If legislators in Nebraska have to vote on this, there has to be a national angle to it. ARC had to be modified into Gateway because it simply was too New Jersey-centric with the new Manhattan terminal and didn't do enough for the NEC, which is a reliable enough bet to get votes from flyover country. They bootstrapped it into a (better) plan that gets NJ Transit about two-thirds of what it needs but pitches it this time as Amtrak's savior. That'll probably get it approved. It's the messaging MA used on the Big Dig; remove the biggest economic bottleneck to free flow on the I-95 coastal corridor. Obvious side benefit, but everyone knew this was a Boston-first, Greater Boston-second, national distant-third project.

All about the sale. They have to find the national angle to tap the investment source, then get a whole lot moving through the pipeline to serve local needs. New York is extremely good with this, which is how they got 70-years-late 2nd Ave. Subway along with East Side Access. 2nd Ave. is their Urban Ring equivalent for distributing traffic around downtown affected by ESA, so consider how the gears were turning with that sales pitch. I do think taking half of the Link for a subway tunnel or grafting an LRT tunnel on top of the NEC portal dig to finish SL Phase III is the kind of local bootstrapping that would work on an ostensibly national project. It would be the same exact concrete footprint, but grabbing those Red Line yard leads or Tremont tunnel nearby and tying that in in lieu of the tri-portal murkiness. It's secondary consideration for getting the out-of-state votes than pitching HSR coattails, but it gets downtown the circulation help we need most badly above all else a la the 2nd Ave. Subway. Have to be clever about the pitch; nobody is going to care about that local Top 10 list if it can't be sold on some tenuous (or fake but plausible-sounding) premise of having economic development coattails into other Congressional districts farther flung and in other states.


Don't get me wrong...anything on the Top 10 list they can take care of is all good. I really don't care where what they pick first if the design is sane. But nothing ever will happen, including repairing the system they've got, until the leaders get their heads back in this and start advocating that we deserve investment. Resources are wildly variable right now. So why are we willingly letting ourselves get lapped by other cities that put effort like they mean it into their sales pitches? Attitude and tact first. Then you have a puncher's chance of changing inertia. Giving up is giving up is giving up. There's nothing tactful about that.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:09 AM   #56
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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That's true, but it's art of the deal. If legislators in Nebraska have to vote on this,...

All about the sale. They have to find the national angle to tap the investment source, then get a whole lot moving through the pipeline to serve local needs. It's secondary for getting the out-of-state votes than pitching HSR coattails, but it gets downtown circulation stuff we need most badly taken care of a la the 2nd Ave. Subway.


Don't get me wrong...anything on the Top 10 list they can take care of is all good. I really don't care where what they pick first if the design is sane. But nothing ever will happen, including repairing the system they've got, until the leaders get their heads back in this and start advocating that we deserve investment. Resources are wildly variable right now. So why are we willingly letting ourselves get lapped by other cities that put effort like they mean it into their sales pitches? Attitude and tact first. Then you have a puncher's chance of changing inertia. Giving up is giving up is giving up. There's nothing tactful about that.
F-Line you've just got to break yourself of the federal Teat -- its going dry -- ween your self and become self sufficient -- Tip is dead and burried -- but he did have one good point -- "all Politics is Local" -- based on the concept of the Ancient Greek City-State -- the Polis

New England is rich (MA, CT, NH are some of the richest states) -- The states have to get together and fund what they can afford that benefits themselves a la Downeast and RI-T deals -- same is true of Michigan, Ohio, PA, Illinois, Wisconsin along the Great Lakes likewise, NY, CT, NJ around NYC -- MA should also deal with NY on Albany to Springfield via Pittsfield service --this can then connect N to VT and potenially Canada and S to Hartford and NH

If there is anything left of the curent national Amtrak after the next decade of budget cutts and readjustments -- it will be the NEC -- the rest of Amtrak will be excursion trains and commuter rail in the major city-states
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:17 AM   #57
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Re: North-South Rail Link

"New England is rich (MA, CT, NH are some of the richest states) -- The states have to get together and fund what they can afford that benefits themselves a la Downeast and RI-T deals -- same is true of Michigan, Ohio, PA, Illinois, Wisconsin along the Great Lakes likewise, NY, CT, NJ around NYC -- MA should also deal with NY on Albany to Springfield via Pittsfield service --this can then connect N to VT and potenially Canada and S to Hartford and NH"

I think instead of having all these states work piece meal to pool their resources together and struggle with all the local politics, we should have a larger entity to oversee and help foster this type of growth. I'm just brainstorming, but i like the name federal government.

Sorry for the sarcasm. I actually would be more receptive to this plan if all the entire south and west were able to be self sufficient too. Ironically, it is the no federal gov't, rugged individualism states that get more from the feds then they put in. Meanwhile, we socialists in massachusetts subsidize all of them with our tax dollars. If massachusetts kept all its taxes going to the feds we'd be waaaaayy better off on as an individual entity. (Now I just want to see some tea party republican acknowledge that and ill be happy.)
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:49 AM   #58
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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"New England is rich (MA, CT, NH are some of the richest states)....
I think instead of having all these states work piece meal to pool their resources together and struggle with all the local politics, we should have a larger entity to oversee and help foster this type of growth. I'm just brainstorming, but i like the name federal government.

Sorry for the sarcasm. I actually would be more receptive to this plan if all the entire south and west were able to be self sufficient too. Ironically, it is the no federal gov't, rugged individualism states that get more from the feds then they put in.
Choo -- first we are in the earliest phase of a major transition -- what is going to happen is the unwinding of the un-Greatfull Society of LBJ -- there is no other option or the US will be forced to follow Greece to take the really unpleasant medecine

This business of + /- states is artificial as the Federal Budget is composed of 3 element:
1) what the federal government must do -- read the Articles in the US Constitution
2) what the federal government may do
3) what the federal government has no legal authority to do -- aka the squalid legacy of LBJ

What has to happen and will over the next couple of elections:
1) first to get the current spending growth under control
2) get the economy growing again
3) make the structural adjustments to return to Federalism

Making Nebraska pay for something benefiting the commuters from Middelboro to the Boston Fiancial District is not part of what the federal Governent is supposed to do

The most that we can expect the people of Nebraska to contribute to us here is their share of the 'fire sale" of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station

The sale price of $25M -- seems awfully cheap for prime real estate in metro Boston when several B$ will ultimately be invested by private investors -- e.g. people are buying 50 year old houses down the street from me here in Lexington for a $1/2 M -- just so that they can recover the less than 1/4 acre of land under and around the house -- i.e. McMansioning

As Maggie Thatcher once said the only thing wrong with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money -- and as a country we have!

Last edited by whighlander; 11-16-2011 at 11:51 AM. Reason: improved clarity and readability
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:00 PM   #59
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:17 PM   #60
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Re: North-South Rail Link

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omg seriously. i just can't. tl;dr x 100
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