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Old 05-28-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
Kahta
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Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

http://www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/4...r_concept.html

Interesting that yet another highway in MA is in bad shape because of a partially completed project-- this time an HOV lane.

http://www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/4...pr_concept.pdf
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:15 PM   #2
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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the CA/T project improvements have made I-93 a comparatively more attractive route than I-95 in the eyes of many drivers. For these reasons, between 2006, after the completion of the CA/T project, and 2010, a slowing of travel speeds and a lengthening of peak-period queues have been observed on the Southeast Expressway.
Hey what do you know: induced demand at work.

So, this is how it goes:
  1. Build massive highway.
  2. Drivers attracted to highway begin to clog up access roads.
  3. Propose more highways and/or widenings of existing ones.
  4. Repeat.

They didn't put a price tag estimate on it, but after skimming the document and the appendix, I think it's easily going to run into the billions.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:17 PM   #3
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

I skimmed through the report and was disappointed that the plan does not add breakdown lanes for the general traffic lanes on the SE Expressway.

One big plus in the design is that it would two-track the Old Colony Line through the area.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:31 PM   #4
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Is there really that much need for breakdown lanes? They are not worth tearing down a single building anywhere.
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:32 PM   #5
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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Is there really that much need for breakdown lanes? They are not worth tearing down a single building anywhere.
They don't have to be continuous. In fact, better if they're not, IMO.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:33 AM   #6
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

An interesting proposal as it also deals with the bottleneck in the Old Colony lines and re configures the Red Line as it should have been built.

This is something that I think the state needs to look at seriously, perhaps even adding tolls (or tolls just for the zipper lane?).
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:10 PM   #7
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

This is a pretty good proposal overall.

I'm usually against highway expansion of any sort but this is a great solution for the HOV problem on the SE Expressway. It ends randomly at Savin Hill, forcing carpool traffic to get stuck in traffic before the ramps begin again in the South End. It doesn't really "add a lane" so much as improve flow between lanes that already exist.

I wasn't expecting there to be any Red Line/Commuter Rail improvements with this, but obviously removing the bottleneck and consolidating A/B before JFK will do a whole lot to make the system run more smoothly.

There's also the space that this will clear up for TOD.

All told I say this is a winner (depending on how much it will cost). I'd also like to see some high speed tolls added to this as well.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:36 PM   #8
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

TOD is a red herring. The city could do "Transit Oriented Development" today, at minimal cost, by changing the zoning around transit stations and letting developers build on it. The fact that they continue to refuse to do this means that they are full of shit.

Two-tracking the Old Colony and consolidating JFK are good changes but they are far too expensive for what they're worth. Building a tunnel box for commuter trains as well as a freshly bored tunnel for the Red line? This is going to run into the billions. And for what? Relatively small improvements for affluent suburban commuters while the Green Line Extension is still not built? And the Silver Line still unacceptable? That'll go over well.

After seeing that, they will just cut as much as possible, probably going to use the tunnel box for the Red Line (so there is space for the highway lane) and leaving the Old Colony alone. And it will still cost $500 million. No way.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:22 PM   #9
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Wouldn't it be great if governments proposed the same solutions for traffic issues that they do for transit ones?

"I-93 has become seriously congested. We've studied a new, low cost solution for providing a roadway that is equal or better to the existing highway. Starting in 2065 (pending the outcome of ongoing community charettes), drivers will get to take advantage of our replacement for the Southeast Expressway - a single, freshly painted Silver Lane. Skeptics might argue that this new lane will not have the capacity to deal with the traffic the highway has been generating, but after the planned widening of Dorchester Avenue, we simply couldn't justify the cost of doing much more. Oh, and, by the way, we're setting up expensive tolls on these and all roadways. Don't worry about the construction time, though; we'll provide free train shuttle service on the Orange Line, which stops so close by!"
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:46 PM   #10
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

How can people honestly not see the need and/or value of breakdown lanes?
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:48 PM   #11
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

They're occasionally useful, but not worth the space they take up in crowded urban areas. Storrow Drive gets it right -- an occasional turnout every mile or two.
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Old 05-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #12
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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They're occasionally useful, but not worth the space they take up in crowded urban areas. Storrow Drive gets it right -- an occasional turnout every mile or two.
It's just so lovely during rush hour when someone breaks down. And instead of having a breakdown lane to head into, out of the way, they have to sit and take up a whole lane. The ensuing traffic backup is always nice.


In a perfect world, the SE Expressway would have 4 full travel lanes in each direction, a breakdown lane in each direction and reversible HOV lanes, 2 of them, that can be altered depending on the time of day. This would run from the SS Plaza all the way into the Pike exit.




Also, not sure if the plans call for it, but eliminating the need for the Braintree branch to go elevated so the commuter rail can go underneath and switch would be nice. The entire stretch from there to Andrew is slow and painful.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:20 PM   #13
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

I'd rather just have people learn not to run out of gas on the highway.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:31 PM   #14
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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I'd rather just have people learn not to run out of gas on the highway.
We've been over this before Ron. Breakdown lanes are not solely used by people running out of gas. Medical and automobile emergencies ("breakdowns" go figure) are their key use.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:39 PM   #15
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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I'd rather just have people learn not to run out of gas on the highway.
Lol utopia.

I think this plan tries to find the best of both worlds. The whole corridor needs work. You can say this just makes it better for people coming from the South Shore but the truth is the demand is already there and as the only highway from the south it needs to be upgraded.

There is a basic level of highway construction I'm ok with.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:49 PM   #16
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

The more vehicles entering the city, the more parking they need. The more parking they need, the more of the city needs to be bulldozed to provide it. Is that such a wonderful outcome to be spending money to obtain?
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:49 PM   #17
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

The two-tracking of the Old Colony Line through the Savin Hill area could be accomplished relatively cheaply by simply merging the Braintree and Ashmont Red Lines into a single two-track line, thus making available two additional tracks through the area for other uses. One of those tracks could be added to the Old Colony line, making it into a two track sytem. The other track's space could be added to the SE Expressway pavement, thus adding enough pavement width to have a 12' wide reversible center (zipper) lane on the Expressway.

This would avoid the need for any tunneling, and cost a small fraction of the proposal in the report.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:52 PM   #18
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

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I'd rather just have people learn not to run out of gas on the highway.
95% of the breakdowns that hose 93 at rush have nothing to do with people running out of gas. It's mechanical breakdowns, blown tires, and fender benders in usually slow-speed stop-and-go. Bang...instant +1 hour to the commute and an awkward maneuver where miles of cars have to swerve out of the way of the emergency vehicles because they can only reach the scene by splitting traffic with there being no breakdown lane. It's an infinitesimally small minority who end up on the losing end of gaming their gas gauges. C'mon, that just doesn't happen here with the extreme density of off-ramps in this region. Is anyone ever more than 2 miles from a gas station?


This is why the MUTCD road design standards have a breakdown lane requirement in the first place for all limited access highways and major arterials. They only grant exemptions for things like new-construction tunnels that have naturally constrained construction dimensions, legacy bridges, or parkways (and the parkway loophole has been abused enough that they're clamping down on that). SE Expressway did its add-a-lane almost 30 years ago maxing out its footprint before whichever MUTCD revision outlawed that. That's why there's never any talk of doing an add-a-lane on anything else by cannibalizing a breakdown lane (3, 128, etc.). It can only be done by widening for a breakdown lane accordingly (and the feds have since closed the loophole in the MUTCD that allowed insanely dangerous conditions like rush hour breakdown lane travel).

Lack of breakdown lane is the #1 most deficient part of the SE Expressway design. They did the turnouts on the wide spots during the 1980's reconstruction, and we can see the results any given morning...they don't freaking work. The turnouts gamble on breakdown frequency being lower and more predictable than it actually is, and volumes being low enough that traffic is actually moving fast enough for a vehicle in crisis to be able to switch lanes and pull over instead of crapping out in one of the center lanes. Stop-and-go fender benders overwhelm the rest of the inadequate turnout density. For whatever reason they thought by making these wide like a truck rest area it would somehow compensate for them being so short and infrequent. The DOT seemed to like those at some point in the 70's and 80's, but you'll notice that in places like the 128 widening they're actually tearing out those rest area-sized individual turnouts in favor of enforcing uniformity on the overall shoulder dimensions. It works a ton better.

What they need to do is mimic the Pike in the Newton, Allston, and Fenway spots where that constrained roadway was widened 3+ decades ago to 7-8 lanes. On every stretch where they could get a minimum 750+ feet of contiguous breakdown lane they widened the road and put in a regulation-size shoulder. It skips around old bridge abutments and retaining walls that lack the width, but otherwise they've filled in all the space that'll support it and no vehicle is ever more than 1000 or so feet away from a turnout. And if some abutment gets rebuilt, it gets rebuilt at regulation-width to extend it. MassHighway is proposing extending the Pike breakdown lane through some gaps that have seen enough structural renewal over the years to support grabbing a few more feet here and there.


As bad as the Allston tolls are, an accident never hoses them as long or as many miles out as even the tiniest disruptions gridlock 93, and that's borne out by a comparison of peakmost Pike loads vs. offpeak weekend 93 loads where an accident still will lock it solid the whole length of the Expressway.

A road's only as good as its most deficient design feature. It's pretty obvious how to relate that in layman's terms to the zipper lane on the Expressway, but turnout space is the other huge one. And I would argue the bigger of the two because regular flow is less of a problem day-to-day on the road than its ability to absorb one single disruption in flow on any one lane anywhere along its length without totally gridlocking...regardless of time of day. When this is playing out exactly the same as a miles-long backup even during hours where the road is running well below capacity, that's a screaming sign of the road's entire design being upended by a single point of failure.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 05-29-2012 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:28 PM   #19
Kahta
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
Hey what do you know: induced demand at work.

So, this is how it goes:
  1. Build massive highway.
  2. Drivers attracted to highway begin to clog up access roads.
  3. Propose more highways and/or widenings of existing ones.
  4. Repeat.

They didn't put a price tag estimate on it, but after skimming the document and the appendix, I think it's easily going to run into the billions.
Shifting demand from the 128 nightmare... plus Boston traffic is emptying out of the city faster, which is why the braintree split and 93/128 in Reading are both in bad shape.

Same with expansion of Route 3-- pulled traffic from surface streets/other routes and made congestion on 128 significantly worse. Growing up in Groton, we'd always take route 2 into the city. Now Route 3 to 128 to 93 is a lot easier.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:10 PM   #20
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Re: Additional lane on the Southeast Expressway

The major interchanges at 93/95 up in Reading/Woburn and 93/95 in Canton need to be reconfigured badly.

I am not saying we need to have 16 lane highways like Atlanta has in its central core, or LA has all over the place. But making simple changes to such an important stretch of road will go a long way to helping things out.
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