The common cut actually ended up being cheaper and less convoluted than trying to preserve access to existing Hartford Union with the rail viaduct weaving over a completely changed highway grade. This was always the most straightforward option, so the only circumstances that would force a rebuild of the rail viaduct is if the public really wanted the old building to be the RR station that badly. And since the building isn't going anywhere and would--whether it continues to be the bus depot or gets redeveloped--still serve some public use on a contiguous block where the 2-block difference with the new station is covered over by air rights, few people see any big loss amid the large upside of the project as a whole. And so it was always overwhelmingly likely that the cut option would prevail. Old Hartford Union will still be one of downtown's jewels, and downtown will be better the quicker they can get this show on the road with I-84.YamaOfParadise wrote:It can be quite a bit confusing, but at least it's solid evidence the team involved with this is being thorough and serious... it's no NEC Future study.Arlington wrote:Thanks, that's the 4-track reassurance I was looking for.
On the i84 site, there was a bewildering array of highway options with alphanumeric designators of the flavor 3W(E2)B that I couldn't tell whether I was looking at a settled highway alignment or a settled rail alignment (or neither)
The cut actually does a whole lot of good for realigning the ROW straighter. The project area starts back at the Capitol Ave. overpass where the Sisson Ave. ramps are going to be removed, the small weave the highway makes between Exits 46 & 47 straightened for better geometry, and Capitol Ave.' is due to be daylighted instead of traveling under the rail line and highway. Rail line will stay where it is on that very gentle curve to Flower St. with the highway realigned to match it in a common cut. From Flower to Myrtle St. both get realigned to eliminate their S-curves through Bushnell Park, and Myrtle & Spring St.'s get realigned by the reshaping of the hillside around the cut. End of project area for the rail line is the Griffins Secondary junction, where the missing west leg of the wye is Amtrak property that must be preserved (the parking lot in the middle of the wye is going to get blown up and reshaped by the street grid changes). Highway rebuild continue around the curve to the existing cut @ High St.
To illustrate how this is going to work: go on Google and use the measuring tool. You can draw a 2000 ft. straight line from the corner of the Aetna garage on Flower to the junction with the Griffins Secondary and see for yourself how much straighter it's going to be. Fast approach from both sides...should make station dwells and getting in and out easy as pie, make it fully 'intercity-ready', and allow for easy straight shots to a mid-line layover yard next to the freight yard or Tilcon plant. About 3 buildings on Garden & Spring St.'s would be sacrificed for the mass realignment, but otherwise the station 'bunker' spanning the Asylum-Church blocks is just burrowed under the hillside and capped off with the adjacent highway while Myrtle is reshaped on top. Using the Google measuring tool once more, draw a triangle from that 2000 ft. line...down Spruce and the existing Hartford Union parking lot, then back to the first point on the map where you started drawing the rail realignment. Google now calculates the total area when you connect the dots, and this will show roughly how much surface area is now freed up by sinking the highway and rail line into a cut then gradually covering over. >600,000 sq. ft., less any realigned city streets slicing through the triangle. HUGE amount of land, some of which will generously expand the size of Bushnell Park when the rail viaduct is torn down.
Now shorten the triangle so it's bounded by Asylum, Spruce, and the relocated rail cut. About 300,000+ sq. ft. sitting on top of or adjacent to the new station and spanning the 2 blocks to the old station. This is all the room you have available for a headhouse, waiting room, and connecting development spanning the block. More if the new headhouse is a multi-story building. That's more than enough to build the largest integrated transit center between New York and Boston, and tons and tons of mixed-use real estate. There'd be room in the cut for multiple 1000 ft. (Northeast Regional length) platforms...Albany/Providence-style with 2 two-track islands. Maybe provisions for a third island if they want to 100-year future-proof themselves in case NEC FUTURE gets dragged kicking and screaming through Hartford. And most certainly an PRV-esque unpowered freight passing track with additional clearances since freight traffic on the whole of the Springfield Line is at its daily densest between Hartford Yard and Berlin Jct. (very similar to how P&W runs through the PRV Station passer from a similarly-situated yard just north of that newish cut).
Final makeup obviously contingent on putting together the temp station (i.e. rail line relocated before highway) into design, then sketching out final platform-level configuration and doing that whole decade-long debate about how big they're gonna go on the capped surface re: integrating the buses, new development, yada yada. As of now all we have are the property line allowances from the more or less agreed-upon alignment, and the relative certainty of the partial/temp station build (at minimum one functional two-track island with ADA up/down access while the rest of the neighborhood is a construction warzone for another 10 years. Everything from there can and will be debated to exhaustion, including architectural aesthetics. But it's one hell of a juicy parcel that can handle every transpo function you could ever dream up. I don't think we'll be lamenting the loss of trains stopping at old Hartford Union at all if they do this property right. Once-in-a-lifetime transformative opportunity.