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Old 03-30-2015, 06:28 PM   #41
Alon
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Its so easy to go on a tangent once you start thinking about all the possibilities, but let's try to keep this focused on the green line and transit way.

As for blue hill ave, the only way a streetcar would work is either with a transfer at Dudley (so its two lines dispatched separately) or if you buried it from the Pike to Dudley. I'm honestly not sure if a tunnel would have enough bang for the buck, though, and as alluded to above there are many more tunnels that should take priority.
Why is it such a problem to dispatch a light rail line running from a portal near the Pike to Mattapan? It's 10 km of street running, versus just under 7 for the B branch, so it can't be a huge problem. And if you look outside Boston, you'll find far longer light rail lines entirely on-street: Paris's two longest tramway lines are 17 km, with several more lines in the 10 km area.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:37 PM   #42
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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I'm not so sure that there isn't a role for mixed traffic streetcars at all within a transportation ecosystem. I do agree that simply replacing heavy bus routes with mixed traffic streetcars is both ineffective and a waste of money.
Many new streetcar systems (Seattle, Washington DC) are discovering that mixed traffic running is not working. Seattle in particular is looking to segregate streetcar traffic on the South Lake Union line because of trolleys being stuck behind cars.

The E line to Heath only works because of the lack of traffic on South Huntington Ave but around Brigham Circle it still gets stuck AND it's dangerous for riders.

Lane segregation is the only thing that would make modern streetcars a better investment than buses and the unfortunate thing is that most Boston streets aren't wide enough to do so without removing hundreds of parking spots.

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With that being said I do still think there are circumstances in which mixed traffic streetcars work and work well. For example, if you think about it Boston’s subway was kind of like the 19th/early 20th century version of BRT. The trolleys traveled in mixed traffic and, while this was horribly congested and slow, they eventually made it to their own grade separated right of way (i.e. the tunnel) which made them an effective means of rapid transit.
Yeah except once you enter mixed traffic again you slow down the headways within the tunnel. This is why the Green Line is inherently fucked: you are mixing a timed signal system (tunnel) with unpredictable on street traffic. Lord knows why the city has never installed signal priority along Comm and Huntington Aves but even then you'd still run into problems (i.e. drivers).

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Now in the context of the green line reconfiguration as discussed here- assuming that the Huntington Ave tunnel is buried and portals are built so that E trains could access the Huntington Ave tunnel on South Huntington Avenue- I think an Arborway restoration to Forest Hills makes sense; even if it is mixed traffic (i.e. without a median reservation or dedicated lanes).

My logic is that even if the green line trains muddle through in mixed traffic from Forest Hills to Huntington Ave, this will be made up for the fact that they will then enter an underground grade separated right of way that zips them into downtown Boston. This would be a huge advantage to the riders on this route and it will always be something that the 39 bus can’t replicate.
You do realize that if streetcars are stuck on South Huntington it backs up traffic for the entire Green Line?! There are 4 branches that truncate through Boylston St on 2 tracks. Having the E delayed will ripple through the system. This is the opposite of an advantage to riders and something that the 39 bus can actually help alleviate since it can move around the traffic and run express if buses start to bunch. It's not like the E line could then go express to make up for time.

The Arborway should not be restored (at least past Hyde Sq). Centre St is far too congested as it is and anyone who thinks adding a huge streetcar that can't move around traffic will be an improvement is delusional.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:36 PM   #43
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

If you’ll allow me I’d like to try and boil this green line reconfiguration proposal down to the most essential components. It includes:

• Reactivating the Tremont Street tunnel with so as to allow light rail service along Washington Street to Dudley Square and create a light rail connection to the South Boston Transitway thereby connecting it to the rest of the T’s rapid transit system, and

• Tunneling along the Pike so as to link up the Huntington Ave tunnel with the Tremont street tunnel and thereby divert the E-line into the Tremont Street tunnel.

Each of those components by themselves would be amazing but together they amount to a game-changer for the whole T system. It would:

• Restore long overdue rail transit to Dudley Square.
• Create many more one seat rides and two seat rides to the Seaport.
• Moot discussion of the much-derided DMU to the Seaport/Convention Center on Track 69.
• Create an ADA accessible Boylston station (as a practical matter it would need to be modernized a little if the Tremont Tunnel was reactivated).
• Create more service on the congested segment between South Station and SLW on the Transitway.
• Compel the T to finally tunnel under D.
• Relieve capacity in the Boylston street tunnel by eliminating the at-grade crossing at Copley and by diverting the E-line to the Tremont street four track segment.
• Facilitate many other green line expansions down the line due to increased capacity.

I mean if the above is true then this untangles a lot of Boston’s legacy transit issues as well as moot many less effective/more expensive transit proposals. Moreover, it tries to contain costs as much as practicable by reutilizing existing infrastructure (Tremont Street tunnel, the Transitway and digging in areas that had been relatively recently filled like the Pike extension). It’s not hyperbole to call it a game-changer considering what the price-tag would be for this.

So with that all being said is anyone else pissed that this board is really the only place that this proposal is discussed? I mean this is something the T or Massdot should be seriously looking into but it’s not even on their radar screen.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:43 PM   #44
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

for all the talk of these ideas on here, has anyone ever contacted anyone at the T or anywhere else at a departmental level regarding this idea? just curious.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:49 PM   #45
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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for all the talk of these ideas on here, has anyone ever contacted anyone at the T or anywhere else at a departmental level regarding this idea? just curious.
Not sure. I assume we'd get a canned, bureaucratic response, and then they'd laugh amongst themselves.

Not to say we should try to get this plan out there. Curbed and UHub post far sillier transit concepts. We should try to get a wider audience for these ideas than the echo chamber of aB.org.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:27 PM   #46
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Amen. I think we should definitely try to get this out. The general public can be a pretty powerful force in transit policy making.

Can you imagine the moneyed interests of the Seaport pounding the table for a major transit improvement alongside the disadvantaged transit-dependent riders on the SL4 and SL5 because a project manages to help both group simultaneously? Now imagine bringing all the green line riders into the fold who just know that the "green line sucks" but don't know how to fix it because they don't know the extent of the lack of capacity on the Boylston Street tunnel. Talk about the critical mass of public support.

Unfortunately each group advocates for their own thing and they don't push in the same direction. This insightful project gives these disparate groups the flag to rally around and with the right advocacy and messaging it could really change things.

I say this because I've read an obscene amount of AB and other transit proposals and I think this one is the most poignant that unfortunately is the least known.
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:33 AM   #47
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

I know for a fact that MBTA people (who knows how high up) have at least seen futureMBTA.com. Whether or not they read this (I'm willing to be some do) it won't really matter until someone higher up wants to move forward.

If we really wanted to we could put together a package and send it to parties that would have the most influence. Seaport developers would no doubt support improved transit and I'm sure we could get some politicians on board. At the least I'd like to see the MBTA put out a study looking at what needs to be done about the Green Line. I have a feeling they know it will be so expensive it might get shot down right out of the gate (just look at the recent proposal from the Port Authority of NY and NJ to rebuilt the PA Bus Terminal... for $10 billion. Shot down right off the bat.)
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Old 03-31-2015, 12:48 AM   #48
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Re: Tremont to Transitway via South Station.

I know that a lot of you really like this configuration but I really have never seen the benefit to it. It is just as round about as the current commuter rail shuttle proposal. I get that it seems like a short term way to connect North and South stations but it's not even a good way to do it. Is the traffic there to even justify that many transfers (South>Green Line>North)?

If you are a commuter at Park St it would still be faster to take the Red Line to South Station and transfer to the Silver Line to get to SBW. Staying on the Green Line would take longer and require a reverse commute.

Also think about who is going to use this new connection. SBW is filling up with hotel and office space, not as much residential yet. That requires a commute. Anyone coming from the southwest/west needs to take the Green or Orange Line which puts pressure on Park/DTX. This means that a direct connection that bypasses the core stations would kill two birds with one stone; give a one or two seat ride to SBW and bypass core stations. The best way to do this is not a new line along Tremont that loops back but a new connection under Boylston through Chinatown to South Station.

Diverting one branch of the Green Line to SBW creates a whole new commuting axis in Boston which will also create a faster way for anyone coming up the Red Line from the south to get to Back Bay and bypassing Park/DTX. All the Tremont alignment does is make people have to transfer again at Park St. It doesn't fix anything.

Furthermore, with all the hotel rooms opening up in SBW that means that hundreds of more tourists and business people will be wanting to see the sights like Fenway Park or hit the convention halls that are already in the Back Bay. There is a symbiotic relationship here and a straight connection will thrive if built.

I get the argument that it would be easier to build using the existing tunnels and looping around the South Bay interchange but this is one instance where I think the extra cost/complexity justifies the extra cost to get it right.
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:08 AM   #49
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

People "in the know" do browse here from time to time.

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
Re: Tremont to Transitway via South Station.

I know that a lot of you really like this configuration but I really have never seen the benefit to it. It is just as round about as the current commuter rail shuttle proposal. I get that it seems like a short term way to connect North and South stations but it's not even a good way to do it. Is the traffic there to even justify that many transfers (South>Green Line>North)?
It's not really about connecting North to South stations, although I guess that's a nice tangent benefit. Connecting West Medford and Union Square to the Seaport via a one seat ride or cross-platform transfer though, is. The commuter rail shuttle hits the Copley area via Back Bay, yes, but it screws around in Widett Circle before going a mile out of the way, and provides no access to Hynes.

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If you are a commuter at Park St it would still be faster to take the Red Line to South Station and transfer to the Silver Line to get to SBW. Staying on the Green Line would take longer and require a reverse commute.
But for the most part, commuters don't just appear inside a station. If you're already on the Red Line, then yeah you're going to get off at South Station to transfer to the Seaport (either via trolley or bus). But if you're on the Green Line you're not going to get off, get on the Red one stop, and then get on the Green or Silver at South Station. You're going to ride two extra stops, or make a cross platform transfer (at Boylston or Bay Village, not Park).

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Also think about who is going to use this new connection. SBW is filling up with hotel and office space, not as much residential yet. That requires a commute. Anyone coming from the southwest/west needs to take the Green or Orange Line which puts pressure on Park/DTX. This means that a direct connection that bypasses the core stations would kill two birds with one stone; give a one or two seat ride to SBW and bypass core stations. The best way to do this is not a new line along Tremont that loops back but a new connection under Boylston through Chinatown to South Station.
The whole idea is to connect the Seaport to the Back Bay and west. As long as the Brookline connector is built, the (E), (D) new Needham line, or a specific shuttle originating at Reservoir could all go to the Seaport via Huntington. People from the south/southwest could just hop on one of those trains, never setting foot in Park/DTX. Orange Line passengers would change at Tufts / Bay Village. People on the (B) or (C) would transfer at Boylston.

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Diverting one branch of the Green Line to SBW creates a whole new commuting axis in Boston which will also create a faster way for anyone coming up the Red Line from the south to get to Back Bay and bypassing Park/DTX. All the Tremont alignment does is make people have to transfer again at Park St. It doesn't fix anything.
All transfers to get to the Seaport would happen at Boylston or Tufts / Bay Village. And Huntington serves basically as much of the Back Bay as Boylston. Back Bay hits Copley Square, and you can walk through the Pru to get to Hynes. The only think you don't get is an Arlington equivelant, which is the lower ridership of the Back Bay stations. But serving Bay Village with the Orange Line connection is a far greater benefit.

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Furthermore, with all the hotel rooms opening up in SBW that means that hundreds of more tourists and business people will be wanting to see the sights like Fenway Park or hit the convention halls that are already in the Back Bay. There is a symbiotic relationship here and a straight connection will thrive if built.
Yes, people wanting to visit Fenway would have to cross-platform transfer at Boylston. But the Hynes Convention Center is served better by Prudential than by the station that's named after it, since you can access it 100% indoors, and until the reopen the other headhouse at Hynes, it's a shorter walk as well. So you get a better convention hall link. You don't get Fenway, but you do get Symphony and the MFA. The walk from Symphony or Prudential also isn't that bad to get to Fenway Park, people walk from the bars along Boylston and Newbury all the time.

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I get the argument that it would be easier to build using the existing tunnels and looping around the South Bay interchange but this is one instance where I think the extra cost/complexity justifies the extra cost to get it right.
The ease is definitely part of it, but it's more about extra routing options. Going via Bay Village, you can send Riverside/Reservoir, Heath Street, Union Square or West Medford trains to the Seaport. The only connection not possible is Dudley, Boston College and Cleveland Circle, those passengers would have to transfer at Bay Village or Boylston.

Going via Essex Street, you can only send Boston College, Cleveland Circle, or Riverside/Reservoir trains to the Seaport. Everyone from the north and south would have to transfer.

Going via Essex, while shorter, forces a lot more people to transfer at Boylston. Unless you ran it as a new service from Reservoir, you would take existing passengers on at least one line and remove their one seat access to Park Street and Government Center. Also keep in mind that the abandoned part of the Tremont subway was one of the fastest running segments while it was in operation, the new routing around the South Bay interchange would also be designed for speed. at 40mph it's not going to take that long to go from Bay Village to South Station. And if you're coming from the Copley Square area, it's one less stop total, so trip times would actually be less despite the longer routing. If you're coming from Dudley its one stop less as well, although via either routing you'd need to transfer.

The only people for whom it's a geographically longer trip are those coming from Union Square or West Medford. However they are getting the potential for a one seat ride, versus under the Essex routing where they are guaranteed to need to transfer at Boylston.




I get that it looks convoluted. I didn't believe in it for years every time F-Line brought it up; but then I actually mapped it out and thought about routings. When you really start to look at the benefits, the extra distance is a reasonable tradeoff, especially combined with the vastly easier difficulty of construction.

And regarding that, keep in mind that the PO Square provision was only for the inbound track (unless you had an at-grade junction, which would cause just as many issues as Copley Junction). The outbound track would have to diverge somewhere, they would probably use the space where the Arlington Portal was. So you still have the same length of tunnel required as going via Bay Village, except now its in the middle of a narrow street with godknowswhat utilities, foundations, etc. The outbound track would have to dive deep too, to get under both the Boylston tracks and the much lower Tremont tracks. Then there's trying to construct a station beneath Essex to connect Chinatown to Boylston, on a curve. Then winding through the city, under 93, before connecting to South Station on a very sharp curve.


I really do think it's the superior way to connect the green line to the silver line.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:17 AM   #50
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Can you repost that schematic you made? I need to reexamine this.
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:38 AM   #51
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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I know for a fact that MBTA people (who knows how high up) have at least seen futureMBTA.com. Whether or not they read this (I'm willing to be some do) it won't really matter until someone higher up wants to move forward.

If we really wanted to we could put together a package and send it to parties that would have the most influence. Seaport developers would no doubt support improved transit and I'm sure we could get some politicians on board. At the least I'd like to see the MBTA put out a study looking at what needs to be done about the Green Line. I have a feeling they know it will be so expensive it might get shot down right out of the gate (just look at the recent proposal from the Port Authority of NY and NJ to rebuilt the PA Bus Terminal... for $10 billion. Shot down right off the bat.)
Thank you! And yes, part of it is probably concern over the cost assessment. Some of it though is bureaucratic inertia and apathy. If there are advocates having whacky meetings on BLX to Riverside, surely a talk dubbed "The Green Solution -- Tremont Tunnel Opportunities" would get some press and business interest at least.
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Old 03-31-2015, 07:44 AM   #52
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Van - Here's one of Dave's layouts for the Bay Village hub.

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a) No conflicting movements. All junctions had to be grade separated for maximum throughput.
b) Minimum amount of platforms. Less platforms means more on-platform transfers, as well as less space taken up and infrastructure to maintain.
c) Tremont Loop. With the northern extensions, I wanted to have a loop track to be able to turn trains coming in from Tremont Street right back again. After Government Center, the only place to currently turn trains is Blanford Street.

After coming up with an elaborate multi-level design with four platforms on three separate streets, I had the epiphany to have the trains cross back on themselves, getting this:



A single 30' platform services every line, allowing this to be the ultimate transfer station. The only confusing thing about it is that you can board a train going to Park Street on either side of the platform, onto trains facing opposite directions. Both platform tracks can be used to loop trains. There is more than enough space to carve out for a large substation for the power boost you'd likely need, as well as a four track yard with a dedicated lead. Both the yard and platform are 310'+, allowing for four car trains. With the exception of Dudley > Seaport and Seaport > Dudley (a route I don't see much demand for), any line can go to any destination.
F-Line's assumptions were slightly different (which I base my map off of). The differences are where the Bay Village station is actually built, as well as where the loop for the Silver Line tunnel is located. I've seen conflicting documentation from Dave and F-Line. Dave's doc shows the loop adjacent to the South Station bus terminal, while F-Line's show it underneath the Leather District Park/Chinatown Park intersection.

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Old 03-31-2015, 12:37 PM   #53
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

You can't put the station where F-Line did because the platforms wouldn't be long enough for a three car train. The image of Busses linked to is old and has a bunch of operational errors, this is my the plan as it stands now (click the links for seriously massive images)

Overview:


Close Up of Bay Village:


And the document I base the Silver Line loop off of:


The location of the Tremont Portal and Tufts Medical Center (you can just make out the roof of the station):


And Boylston Station:
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:23 PM   #54
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Thank you! And yes, part of it is probably concern over the cost assessment. Some of it though is bureaucratic inertia and apathy. If there are advocates having whacky meetings on BLX to Riverside, surely a talk dubbed "The Green Solution -- Tremont Tunnel Opportunities" would get some press and business interest at least.
Absolutely agree! As for the marketing I would go with something more salesy like "The Green Line Solution- Connecting you to the Seaport, Dudley and a better Green Line."

Now I think as a next step we should all try to get a little more consensus about what this plan would look like.

To that end, Davem, I was wondering if you could elaborate more on the logic behind you alignment from Bay Village station to the Transitway tunnel (thanks for posting these diagrams and photos btw). On your diagram are you showing the green line surfacing and then going into a portal on Atlantic Ave. to enter the Transitway? Thanks.
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:34 PM   #55
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Anybody have a rough, back-of-the-envelope kind of estimate on cost for this idea?
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:19 PM   #56
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Anybody have a rough, back-of-the-envelope kind of estimate on cost for this idea?
I'm going to guess it involves a B somewhere - and I'm not talking about Bitcoin.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:35 PM   #57
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

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Anybody have a rough, back-of-the-envelope kind of estimate on cost for this idea?
That's hard to really pin down without extensive study but I'll tell you what I'm willing to bet it will cost less than... South Coast Rail.

For the headline number that is South Coast Rail (which we all know is probably a low-ball figure) I bet you could do this. In my opinion that says it all right there.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:43 PM   #58
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

The routing through south bay is from what I've been able to observe in person walking around and on the train. It portals to the surface through there to run on an existing surface road, taking advantage of existing underpasses, etc. There are probably other routings possible, both surface and underground, but it's what I settled on for diagrammic purposes. Going on the surface alsonavoids having to weave through all the road tunnels buried down there. If anyone has some actual documentation of the underground spagetti, I'd love to see it. I couldn't find anything online. If you look back through crazy transit pitches, you can see me arguing with another poster over ways to get through there.

As for cost, full build is a lot because you have to do Huntington. Just connecting the seaport and Dudley would be a reasonable start, and would be less since it takes advantage of existing infrastructure and well documented fill next to the pike and south bay.

Before fully building out Hungtington, you could also do a seaport-back bay shuttle taking advantage of the Copley connector as kind of a slingshot. That would be useful for special events and such. The thing can be phased into like 5 separate builds, each one progressively more useful. That's the real beauty of it.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:03 PM   #59
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Thinking about this a bit more, I think I'd like to see the Dudley line portal in front of Peter's park, with an underground station at Dover. The majority of that land was cleared when they bulldozed the NY Streets neighborhood, and you can then take advantage of the wider part of Washington to build a reservation.

To deal with Washington dropping from four lanes to two, I would make Harrison one-way northbound, and Shawmut one-way southbound. This way you don't loose any parking, are able to have the trolley not street run (at least until south of Melena Cass), traffic calm Washington, and still have an automobile route from Roxbury and Mattapan to Downtown. (If anything, taking Harrison northbound is better, since you don't get tossed off when you hit the pedestrian zone in DTX). With through traffic rerouted around Dudley, you could probably even pedestrian-zone it, only having trolleys and buses running through.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:51 PM   #60
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Re: Green Line Reconfiguration

Alright I get what you are going for now. That's a pretty ingenious solution. But I have some issues.

1) The Orange Line tunnel is going to be a problem since it's so close to your new tunnel complex. The new stations and tunnels are going to have to be DEEP to get around the OL and the Pike right there. If the Dudley branch wasn't turning south then I'd say you could just go above the OL but with it you'd have to go DEEP and I don't know if your plan would be able to handle the grades needed.

2) Given how many different services are running through here, and especially if you want to have a terminal platform, I think it might be better to have a bi level platform; something akin to West 4th St in NYC (less complex here). I'm mostly concerned about if there is a disabled train. One set of tracks will back up service in BOTH directions. Having two levels will allow trains to be held while merging when the Tremont tunnel goes from 4 to 2 tracks.

3) I do like the idea of a turn around here but I'm still not sold on routing Union Sq/West Medford trains down and around to South Station. I just don't see the traffic being more than the Red Line can handle especially if there is a Green Line-South Station connection from the South/West.

4) Any new construction like this is going to have to deal with upgrading Boylston St station to be ADA compliant. If you go with an Essex St alignment then you have more to work with by building a new lower station and mezzanine for better pedestrian flow. Given that this area is already crowded with people a new superstation (Boylston-Chinatown) will help more than building a large transfer station in Bay Village. If you build the Bay Village station you still will need to upgrade Boylston St; may as well kill two birds with one stone.

One thing that your plan does have a major advantage in is with construction staging. Just dig a hole in the middle of the South Bay interchange and you're set. An Essex St alignment is going to be very disruptive, but as I envision it will be constructing new underground passages that will help pedestrian flow in the area.

If there were more solid plans for deck the pike and interchange here I'd say your plan is a no brainer since it would directly serve the new development. That alone would make it worth while.

I still think, on the whole, that an Essex St alignment is still superior in terms of getting people to where they want to go. In fact looking at your alignment closely anyone using the Boylston St subway would have to still transfer at Park St to get to the Orange or Red Line. Thus the Bay Village alignment only helps riders on the new lines which still doesn't really fix the problems at Boylston and Park. A superstation at Boylston-Chinatown would cover all the bases.
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Last edited by vanshnookenraggen; 03-31-2015 at 08:57 PM.
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