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Old 01-06-2018, 10:35 AM   #1021
Rover
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Pardon me for giggling, but every "opinion" is biased. Hence the meaning of the word "opinion".

Regarding my claims, given that Amazon is a for-profit corporation it goes without saying (at least to those of us in the private sector) it's #1 implicit priority is to make money.

Most people understand that without needing it listed on a RFP.

Lack of effective and forward thinking mass transit, or the desire to build it, is a major decision point for any large scale (50,000+ employee) project.

Boston has a great recipe for success in its niche, hitting singles and doubles. Let's face it, that's not bad.

However, it is not a Fortune 500 home run swinger. That's also not necessarily bad. I'm sure Fortune 500 HQ cities like Milwaukee and Cincinatti would love to trade places with Boston in a heart beat. Being a Fortune 500 HQ city does not equal success, per se. https://www.citylab.com/life/2012/07...response/2556/

Boston's a strawberry, not a blueberry. If it wants to change it's basic economic character, it's going to have to change it's essential DNA. I don't think it's something it needs to do. It is prospering already. But if it were to seriously play for an Amazon H2Q, it would have to change its DNA, get off its ass about the NSRL, B-R Connector, stop VR'ing the Green Line extension down to a pony express and, for the love of God, lobotomize the officials who publicly announced "West Station 2040+". .

Being a Fortune 500 city does not make one a great city. But if Boston truly wanted to do it, it would have to make fundamental changes that simply are not happening without some paradigm shifts.
So I'll ask again, in your opinion, name me a US city that's taken on as big of a transportation project at the Big Dig since its completion? As in its actually up and running, not still on the drawing board. If answer is "none" then by your own standard isn't everybody else hitting singles while Boston hit a double?
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:04 AM   #1022
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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So I'll ask again, in your opinion, name me a US city that's taken on as big of a transportation project at the Big Dig since its completion? As in its actually up and running, not still on the drawing board. If answer is "none" then by your own standard isn't everybody else hitting singles while Boston hit a double?
None.

And no city built a Back Bay either. That's in the past.

And since work began on the Big Dig in the 1980's the city has sworn off ever doing something on that scale ever again. PTSD.

In the quarter century since the groundbreaking, Boston has rejected an Olympics, the NSRL, has VR'ed the GL extension to bust stop like stations and delayed any thought of West Station until 2040+.

Look, this is a big messsageboard, and some people get it, but you and I are having a repetitive, circular discussion at this point- you base everything on the past and I base (admittedly to a fault) everything on the future. Given the nature of Amazon's business and Jeff Bezos' well documented views, my OPINION (not a belief as a fact) is that the future and openess to taking on large scale infrastructure in the future weighs heavier than the past and small incrementalism to the braintrust at Amazon.

Last edited by shmessy; 01-06-2018 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 01-06-2018, 12:40 PM   #1023
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

Philly (and many other cities) will close the gap and leave cute Boston in the dust very soon.

Philly could build thirty >180m highrises before Boston builds (3), once 115 Fed, SST, and 1 Dalton are built.

Some of us may not see 180m again in our lifetimes after 1 Congress and the Harbor Garage are developed.
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Old 01-06-2018, 12:58 PM   #1024
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Philly (and many other cities) will close the gap and leave cute Boston in the dust very soon.

Philly could build thirty >180m highrises before Boston builds (3), once 115 Fed, SST, and 1 Dalton are built.

Some of us may not see 180m again in our lifetimes after 1 Congress and the Harbor Garage are developed.
For the umpteenth time, high rises are the eyelashes. Infrastructure represents the vessels and arteries. The tall buildings are the effect, not the cause. The Amazon HQ2 won’t come to a city because of its tall buildings.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:12 PM   #1025
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

Exactly.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:49 PM   #1026
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

I think I finally understand how to word what bothers me in this discussion. That I can agree that Boston is scarred from the Big Dig and provincialism, but also annoyed at the hand-wringing.

Boston does have some sort of PTSD from the Big Dig. Our reaction to the Olympics annoys me at all hell because it had all the wrong reasons. So many cited arguments we shouldn't host it because we're too small or corrupt or inept - isn't that a self-fulling prophesy? The proposal deserved to be killed on grounds it was going to be a bad dead - a plan looking extremely likely to give us a net loss in finance, not tossing arguments of how terrible we are. We should be allowed to dream big and things like the Olympics the real question is scheming how to make it in our interests rather not hosting it at all.

But currently we don't and willing to literally punch ourselves to demonstrate we don't at the opportunity.

At the same time, I don't think Amazon care that much on Boston's attitude on this. If they select Boston, it's going to be because we proposed a site that meet their official criteria while have the right workforce fueled by our universities. If we lose it, it more about what other cities offered rather than because we delayed a commuter rail station that is nowhere near the likely locations to 2040. If they select somewhere else like NYC, then it is because they can match our strengths while also being NYC. If they pick somewhere like Baltimore, I'm betting it is because they offer huge amount of tax incentives that Amazon cared more than advertised.
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Old 01-06-2018, 02:28 PM   #1027
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

Los Angeles Denver, and Seattle have all undertaken large-scale transit projects (or really a Bigger Dig sized portfolios of medium scale projects) since the Big Dig.

It's not clear whether you can count New York's East Side access and Second Avenue subway as large and recent efforts because they are fundamentally moderate-sized projects simply have outsized costs.

DC Area is kind of in the middle, building its silver line in stages and having launched the purple line but also DC having failed to get it streetcar system going.
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Old 01-06-2018, 03:15 PM   #1028
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Los Angeles Denver, and Seattle have all undertaken large-scale transit projects (or really a Bigger Dig sized portfolios of medium scale projects) since the Big Dig.

It's not clear whether you can count New York's East Side access and Second Avenue subway as large and recent efforts because they are fundamentally moderate-sized projects simply have outsized costs.

DC Area is kind of in the middle, building its silver line in stages and having launched the purple line but also DC having failed to get it streetcar system going.
Not related to Amazon but there was a great NYT piece last week which criticized the costs of the 2nd ave subway. I believe lots of that could apply to the Green Line Extension. It seems like costs in the US for what should be simple transit projects are out of control.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/n...ion-costs.html
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Old 01-06-2018, 03:43 PM   #1029
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Not related to Amazon but there was a great NYT piece last week which criticized the costs of the 2nd ave subway. I believe lots of that could apply to the Green Line Extension. It seems like costs in the US for what should be simple transit projects are out of control.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/n...ion-costs.html
Actually, I'd contend that the GLX, as re-worked by Baker-Pollack, is a model for big projects and a chance to prove to ourselves that we can build big stuff (even if they, themselves have limited will to promote it). Particularly since the somewhat high GLX cost of $200m/mile is a mix of (1) old overruns having been baked in (early work and the takings needed for the maintenance facility) (2) Legit extra costs of a flying junction and a new maintenance facility/yard.

Essentially, if you extrapolate only from the new/recent phases of GLX it looks like it is being done right, and can prove to ourselves (and others) that Boston has figured out how to deliver new transit at "standard" prices.

The linked article on New York shows why NYC is in a bad class of its own. The "bad" expensive parts of GLX were only *kinda* like NYC--things temporarily run amok. Whereas all NYC/MTA projects (ESA, 2AvSub, Oculus, etc) all have the same (1) Egregious featherbedding and pay-for-no-show practices and (2) cost-plus contracting that can't reign it in and (3) no will from Albany/Governor to fix it.

The point is that Baker ended the bad contracting in a way that no governor in NY has, even if bad advocacy at the Mass Governor's level has stalled Red-Blue, West Station, and NSRL. Hopefully we can marry pro-transit planning with good contracting.

And that Baker-Pollack are at least studying NSRL will hopefully not follow Romney's tack of inflating/scoping estimates to make Red-Blue and NSRL look unaffordable.
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Old 01-06-2018, 07:03 PM   #1030
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Actually, I'd contend that the GLX, as re-worked by Baker-Pollack, is a model for big projects and a chance to prove to ourselves that we can build big stuff (even if they, themselves have limited will to promote it). Particularly since the somewhat high GLX cost of $200m/mile is a mix of (1) old overruns having been baked in (early work and the takings needed for the maintenance facility) (2) Legit extra costs of a flying junction and a new maintenance facility/yard.

Essentially, if you extrapolate only from the new/recent phases of GLX it looks like it is being done right, and can prove to ourselves (and others) that Boston has figured out how to deliver new transit at "standard" prices.

The linked article on New York shows why NYC is in a bad class of its own. The "bad" expensive parts of GLX were only *kinda* like NYC--things temporarily run amok. Whereas all NYC/MTA projects (ESA, 2AvSub, Oculus, etc) all have the same (1) Egregious featherbedding and pay-for-no-show practices and (2) cost-plus contracting that can't reign it in and (3) no will from Albany/Governor to fix it.

The point is that Baker ended the bad contracting in a way that no governor in NY has, even if bad advocacy at the Mass Governor's level has stalled Red-Blue, West Station, and NSRL. Hopefully we can marry pro-transit planning with good contracting.

And that Baker-Pollack are at least studying NSRL will hopefully not follow Romney's tack of inflating/scoping estimates to make Red-Blue and NSRL look unaffordable.
I do really applaud Baker for not cancelling and working to bring costs better under control.

Still even 2.3 billion is a very high number for an above ground light rail project on an existing right of way. Compared to similar projects in other cities that's outrageous. It's only 4.3 miles of track, so you're taking 530 million dollars per mile for light rail trolley tracks. Paris is able to do a full scale self driving underground subway with intricate stations at less per mile then that.

I wish the globe would do an investigation piece on why these costs are so high. I do understand that lots of the 2.3 billion is from wasted money in the early stages of the project, still there needs to be some sort of investigation so that we can expand transit without ruining the state budget.

Looking at the new contract it looks like it's roughly a billion dollars. I want to know where the 1.3 billion dollars already spent has gone.
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Old 01-08-2018, 10:49 AM   #1031
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Los Angeles Denver, and Seattle have all undertaken large-scale transit projects (or really a Bigger Dig sized portfolios of medium scale projects) since the Big Dig.

.
Just curious, but would you mind naming them? LA built a subway but that was about the same time as the Big Dig IIRC. Seattle is building a little dig but its not on the scale of the Big Dig. Not sure what's going on in Denver.

I don't get the angst about the Olympics either. For the life of me I never understood why the city didn't bid on the winter Olympics instead which are gong to warm weather Bejing instead. Having said that, it wasn't a good plan and it was rightfully killed as much as I would have enjoyed having them here.
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Old 01-08-2018, 10:59 AM   #1032
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Just curious, but would you mind naming them? LA built a subway but that was about the same time as the Big Dig IIRC. Seattle is building a little dig but its not on the scale of the Big Dig. Not sure what's going on in Denver.

I don't get the angst about the Olympics either. For the life of me I never understood why the city didn't bid on the winter Olympics instead which are gong to warm weather Bejing instead. Having said that, it wasn't a good plan and it was rightfully killed as much as I would have enjoyed having them here.
Can't speak for the other cities, but LA passed Measure M in 2016 which approves spending $120B over the next 40 years to vastly expand the metro system. It's a huge project and a huge win for the region.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:06 AM   #1033
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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For the life of me I never understood why the city didn't bid on the winter Olympics instead which are gong to warm weather Bejing instead.
Just curious - have you ever been to Beijing in January?
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:56 AM   #1034
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Just curious - have you ever been to Beijing in January?
I haven't! Looks like the average temperature is 28 for February and 41 in March. Usually winter games take place towards the end of February but maybe they changed the schedule for 2022.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:33 PM   #1035
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

IAM thinkin THIS IS thE listof this Truly great CItys for AMzoNe:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/ar...bug-haven.html
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:01 AM   #1036
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Just curious, but would you mind naming them? LA built a subway but that was about the same time as the Big Dig IIRC. Seattle is building a little dig but its not on the scale of the Big Dig. Not sure what's going on in Denver.
LA is currently expanding three subway lines, including twin tunnels under the downtown/financial district and another set of tunnels through the gaseous tar soils of west LA. They are putting multiple other metro extensions out to bid as we speak, with much more transit construction over the next ten years-- all paid for under Measures R and M. They finished an LRT extension recently and built an entirely new LRT line even more recently. Obviously, LA is very late to the mass transit game, but they're doing way more infrastructure construction than Boston is right now.
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Old 01-09-2018, 10:13 AM   #1037
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

For all the concern about lack of Big Dig level projects, how about consideration for the fact that Big Dig level projects are Big Dig level disruptive to the City. If half of Boston were a still a Big Dig ditch I doubt Boston would be in the running for HQ2 based on renderings of what the Rose Kennedy Greenway was going to be like 10 or 15 years from now.
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Old 01-09-2018, 10:41 AM   #1038
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Just curious, but would you mind naming them?
Los Angeles has been building its Measure R system ($40b approved in 2008) and just approved Measure M ($120b plan)2016. So that's $180b (over many years) but basically 10x the Big Dig, with some of the bigger elements being (per Wikipedia)
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Examples of transportation projects and improvements cited by proponents of Measure R include beginning the so-called Subway to the Sea, get the Green Line light rail to Los Angeles International Airport, widen the 5 Freeway at the bottleneck before the Orange County line, and add carpool lanes. The sales tax froze regular fares until 2010 and froze fares for seniors, the disabled, students, and those on Medicare thru 14 September 2014.

On a similar cadence at about 40% the scale, Seattle approved Sound Transit 2 in 2008, for $18b worth of light rail lines and commuter rail extension, followed by Sound Transit 3 in 2016, a $54b plan.

Denver's FasTracks plan was in the $4b ~ $7b range

For another thread, Massachusetts could really use an additional gas tax hike (to partly fill the gap of non-indexing, to renew/extend the accelerated bridge replacement program, and to build NSRL and extend MassDOT rail Boston-Springfield and Northfield-New Haven.)
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Old 01-09-2018, 10:52 AM   #1039
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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For all the concern about lack of Big Dig level projects, how about consideration for the fact that Big Dig level projects are Big Dig level disruptive to the City. If half of Boston were a still a Big Dig ditch I doubt Boston would be in the running for HQ2 based on renderings of what the Rose Kennedy Greenway was going to be like 10 or 15 years from now.
?? While big budget, Boston has no projects on its plate anywhere near as disruptive as the Big Dig. Not even close.

NSRL will be a tunnel boring machine, causing no surface disruptions
GLX will involve closing NS-Lechmere for maybe a year or two and single-track ops on the Lowell Line.
Red-Blue would tear up Cambridge St (and that's it)
Silver-under-D would tear up D Street
Electrification of CR is no harder or disruptive than Electrifying New Haven to Boston was

Urban Ring? Most of it is painting bus lanes. Some is tunneled, but all are neighborhood-scale projects, not downtown athwart I-93.

Rebuilding "live" viaducts is a huge deal. Hartford is about to become a living hell as I-84 is rebuilt, just as Boston suffered in the Big Dig. But the common element for disruption is viaduct rebuilding, not "big projects"
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:02 AM   #1040
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Re: Amazon HQ2 RFP

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Los Angeles has been building its Measure R system ($40b approved in 2008) and just approved Measure M ($120b plan)2016. So that's $180b (over many years) but basically 10x the Big Dig, with some of the bigger elements being (per Wikipedia)



On a similar cadence at about 40% the scale, Seattle approved Sound Transit 2 in 2008, for $18b worth of light rail lines and commuter rail extension, followed by Sound Transit 3 in 2016, a $54b plan.

Denver's FasTracks plan was in the $4b ~ $7b range

For another thread, Massachusetts could really use an additional gas tax hike (to partly fill the gap of non-indexing, to renew/extend the accelerated bridge replacement program, and to build NSRL and extend MassDOT rail Boston-Springfield and Northfield-New Haven.)
Not to nitpick because I'm happy to see these projects funded, but few of this has actually been built. Not directed at you, but its funny that on a different thread people are going berserk that West Station will be delayed in 2040, when at the same time I read your articles many of these projects are projected to go on line the same year.

So, to keep this an apples to apples comparison, which was my original question to shmessy in response to his PTSD comment, what city has done anything like the Big Dig in the 15 years since it was by and large completed? I'd answer none, with the additional comment that two cities (LA and Seattle) are in the planning stages of doing something similar over the next 20 years if all goes well (famous last words).

Also I'd personally support a gas tax hike, but the money would have to be earmarked towards actual projects and not personnel costs. State transportation dept has to rebuild credibility with the public regarding graft and corruption before voters start approving more funding.
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