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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 01-02-2018, 08:48 AM   #1
vanshnookenraggen
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Red Line Extension to Mattapan

This popped up on my Twitter feed:

https://medium.com/@skyqrose/red-lin...an-b7351aa782e

In the piece the author outlines how it might be beneficial to replace the high speed line with a simple extension of the Red Line. The MBTA is looking at what to do with the old light rail line especially in the wake of the recent crash. Knowing them they'd want to just pave it over and throw down BRT but a full heavy rail extension might be worth looking at.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:19 AM   #2
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

^ The proposal for consolidated stops at Milton & Mattapan, bolstered by good paths and bridges over rivers, seems like an ideal long-term plan.
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:47 AM   #3
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

I agree it's a good option. This has been under serious consideration at least since the 1960's, and I remember it covered quite a bit in the Boston news media back then.
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:03 PM   #4
Joel N. Weber II
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

I had been assuming that the two grade crossings at Capen St and Central Ave would be too expensive to grade separate to make such a Red Line extension worthwhile, but reading that blog post has left me not at all convinced that those grade separations would be too expensive.

I think the assumption in that blog post that a terminal station needs to be complex and expensive is not necessarily right in this case. I think a simple island platform at Mattapan with no tail tracks beyond the platform ought to be fine: if something blocks the southbound track for, say, 15-30 minutes somewhere between JFK/UMass and Ashmont, and then all of the trains start heading toward Ashmont at faster than 6 minute headways when the track becomes unblocked, Mattapan doesn't need to be able to handle the tight headways, because at that point half the trains can terminate at Ashmont / Codman Yard. It might be appropriate to make the length of the Mattapan platform be equal to the length of a 6 car Red Line train, plus the distance a new Red Line train is expected to take to decelerate from 10 MPH to stopped, plus a small safety factor, plus maybe a fudge factor if there's imprecision in where the signal system transitions from telling the train it is allowed to go 10 MPH to the point where the signal system tells the train it needs to decelerate to 0 MPH. (The goal being that if you reach that transition point at just above 0 MPH, you'll end up near the east end of the platform, and if you hit that transition point at 10 MPH, you'll end up near the west end of the platform.)

It might be appropriate to build the Mattapan platform 40' to 60' wide, with space for ramps in the middle. At the west end, have a ramp going from the platform down to street level; if Red Line platforms are 48" above the ground (I don't know for sure if that's the case or not), then that would be 48' plus 5' for a landing (or maybe a slightly longer landing) plus probably a bit more for a fudge factor so that it can be built a bit less steep than 12:1 in case the construction is imprecise so that after it gets built slightly wrong it's still less steep than 12:1. It might make sense to build this so that if a train ends up at the very westernmost 40' of the platform, and you get out at the front most door or possibly even the next door, you won't be able to walk directly across to a train at the other side (if it manages to also platform equally far west), but you'd instead have to walk over to the eastern end of the ramp first.

If the bridge across the Neponset just to the east of Mattapan Station is currently deficient, it would probably be best to work out the ideal geometry for the new Mattapan Station and that bridge before rebuilding the bridge.

I'm wondering if a ramp from the Mattapan platform up to the Neponset Trail bridge would be practical. If a 10' elevation difference turns out to be enough to get from the floor elevation of a Red Line car to the height where a bridge can cross over it, that's 120' plus 3 x 5' landings plus fudge factors, or 135' plus fudge factors, or probably roughly the length of two Red Line cars. It might make sense to have ramp + elevator here, preferably with a fare gate configuration on the upper level so that one bank of fare gates provides access to both the elevator and ramp.

I think the blog post's list of things needed may have omitted the fare gates on the outbound platform at Ashmont; last time I was there there were none.

I'm wondering if it would be practical to build an island platform which would have its eastern end maybe 150' or so west of the Valley Road access path (which apparently doesn't actually connect to Valley Road) with a ramp down to the platform, and then at the western end of that platform, a ramp down to track level, and then an underpass to get to the south side of the tracks once the Capen St grade separation climbs high enough to provide adequate clearance.

I'm also wondering if a station could be built with the southern end of its platform(s) near the existing Cedar Grove station and its northern end near Gallivan Blvd to better maintain service for more of the existing walk shed.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:27 PM   #5
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

If they can pull this off this would be great. The trolley is a joke and it just so happens to head out to Mattapan, one of the poorest areas of the city. The city is taking steps to get transit to the poorer neighborhoods and this would be a great start. These people need to get downtown to where the jobs are and having to transfer from this pos trolley to the red line is a joke. This needs to happen. I am happy to see the new stops being added on the fairmount line. Everything helps.
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Old 01-03-2018, 11:16 PM   #6
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

As they often did, BERy planned for the possibility of that extension. The line goes onto a 3% grade west of Milton station, which was purposely built to accommodate future grade separation.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:19 AM   #7
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

They built for the future. Shame we stopped doing that.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:28 PM   #8
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

That's not necessarily true:
  • The Haymarket North Extension was built with the third track and other preparations for the deferred extension to Reading. I believe the Wellington Yard was also left with extra space for additional tracks.
  • The Red Line Northwest Extension was built with tail tracks aligned for Arlington, and an expandable garage at Alewife.
  • The Southwest Corridor was built with space for a fourth track south of Forest Hills, an Orange Line yard aligned for a Needham extension, and provisions for catenary supports.
  • The Seaport Transitway was built to a large loading gauge, was designed for easy light rail conversion, and what appears to be extendable platforms.
  • The GLX was always planned with Union Square station specifically not precluding an extension towards Porter (though it's not clear whether the shortsighted cuts and recent partial restoration will affect that). There have also been some similar consideration with vehicles - the Type 9s have plug doors that would allow future conversion to true level boarding.
  • Several commuter rail extensions were designed with future capacity in mind. A number of Old Colony stations, as well as Rowley, can have a second track added very easily.

There are certainly times they shoot themselves in the foot, for sure. (Hello, Ashmont station and the horrible transfer design). But when they do build things, they're occasionally smart about it.
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Old 01-05-2018, 10:50 PM   #9
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

Thanks for the interesting list.

There's also the pocket dead-end tracks in the Green line tunnel just south of the portal at Leverett Circle.
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Old 01-05-2018, 11:57 PM   #10
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Re: Red Line Extension to Mattapan

Not to get off-topic, but those actually were never designed to be part of a future extension, and for good reason. There's nowhere useful to go from there - west and you're just duplicating the Red Line into East Cambridge (much cheaper to go down the Grand Junction from the GLX, if you want the North Station - Kendall connection), south and you're running into the much-better-positioned Blue Line.
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