• Red-Blue Connector

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

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  by F-line to Dudley via Park
maxman927 wrote:ah, so if we had said money we could straighten that out as well.
Isn't a lot of need to right now. If the T is smart and does like it did with the Hawker 0600 and 01200 car orders, they can standardize equipment from the Blue and Orange anyway. Same parts, same guts, different carbody dimensions, ability to retrofit Blue cars for later Orange service.

Only time I could see it being worth doing is if the North-South connector gets built and the chosen design makes for an Orange downtown loop a la the Atlantic Ave. El days that somehow presents an attractive airport connection via direct-running through the East Boston tunnel. And that's fanciful at best. I really don't see a scenario where changing the clearances on Blue are more than a low-priority luxury.

Frankly, the ancient-infrastructure tunnel widenings that would be highest priority for consideration are 4-tracking Park St.-GC on the Green Line and eliminating Copley Junction with proper fly-unders. Those are the two with biggest potential positive impact on capacity and the two that may become the most pressing pressure-alleviation needs in a few decades.
  by sery2831
From Boston.com: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massac ... extension/
State to spend $29m designing a project on hold

By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff | July 23, 2009

The state set aside $29 million last week to design a subway tunnel under downtown Boston that planners concede they cannot afford to build - either now or any time in the next two decades.

But the engineering money is slated to be spent within the next two years, even as other projects are cast aside, because the state made a promise, as part of a Solomon-like legal compromise with environmentalists to mitigate the impact of the Big Dig.

In an era when a plunging economy is prompting state officials’ promises “to get more real’’ about planning what they can truly afford, the 0.4-mile tunnel connecting the Red and Blue MBTA lines stands out like a bright orange cone on a highway.

“In this climate, it doesn’t make any sense,’’ said Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat who cochairs the state’s transportation committee. “The transportation system has enough design documents sitting on shelves collecting dust.’’

State transportation managers - who have so far spent $556,708 on the $300 million project - are hardly enthusiastic about having to set aside $29 million for something that may never be built. In response to questions, transportation spokesman Colin Durrant said, “We’re fulfilling the responsibilities of the legal settlement.’’ He did not offer an endorsement of the project, which would extend the Blue Line from Government Center to the Charles/MGH Station on the Red Line.

Even many of the project’s key supporters, who lent a political boost to a settlement three years ago, have become a little less ardent, noting that the economy is forcing tough decisions.

A spokesman for Partners HealthCare, which owns Massachusetts General Hospital and once threatened to sue to have the connector built, said the project is important, but that there might be a “reason for caution,’’ given the state’s poor financial condition. Partners backs the project because it would provide patients and employees easier access to the hospital.

But the Conservation Law Foundation, which orchestrated the settlement, said the state’s commitment to design and engineer the project is a worthwhile first step.

“Obviously, we want to see this project built, but it can’t get there without design and engineering,’’ said Noah Chesnin, a foundation spokesman.

As with most transportation discussions in Massachusetts, the connector’s history is intricately woven with the tortured history of the Big Dig.

In 1990, when environmentalists raised the alarm about impact on air quality, the state responded by creating a public transit improvement list, designed to fend off a lawsuit.

Years later, when then-governor Mitt Romney backed away from some of those commitments, including the connector, the foundation sued. The sides renegotiated the list in a 2006 settlement.

At the time, state officials said they did not have the money to build the connector. And they insisted that the added Silver Line bus service from South Station to Logan International Airport made it unnecessary to build an addition to the Blue Line, which also serves the airport.

But environmental groups, joined by North Shore officials and Partners HealthCare, argued that it would provide a crucial link in the subway system, allowing East Boston and North Shore residents better access to jobs and healthcare in Boston and Cambridge.

In the end, the sides did not agree to actually build the project, only that the state would complete design and engineering by 2011. Last year, the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved the new deal, which included other transit commitments, giving it the force of law.

The advocates’ strategy is often successful in the transportation world: Keep the project moving forward, spending money along the way, so that it will be ready and there will be a sense of inevitability when more money becomes available.

But it does not always work out that way. A proposed Silver Line bus tunnel along Boylston Street, for example, was recently put on hold indefinitely, even after $46 million was spent on planning.

This year, those involved in drafting Greater Boston’s long-term transportation plan said they wanted a different approach. The federal government had warned the state it would hold up key matching dollars if planners continued to include projects the state could not afford in the 20-year plan. And given the poor economy and Big Dig debt, many involved in writing the plan said they needed to significantly pare down their wish list and begin saying no to more projects.

“I think this is an exception,’’ said Marc Draisen, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, which plays a key role in helping the state with its long-term plans.

Draisen said the legal commitment, coupled with a real need to disperse congestion in key downtown subway stations, makes the Blue Line-Red Line connector a priority. Draisen argues that the financial picture could change in the next few years, if the economy improves and the state or federal government channels more money toward transit projects.

But for now, the state is not counting on new streams of money. The 20-year planning document approved preliminarily last week sets aside no money to build the tunnel through 2030.

In the meantime, Draisen suggests the state look at alternative solutions to the current plan, in which the Blue Line would meet up with the Red Line. One alternative, Draisen said, is to build a moving sidewalk between the lines that could allow commuters to transfer with less expense.

Another alternative, Baddour said, is to renegotiate the legal settlement. If that happened, some supporters may not argue as strongly as they once did.

Revere Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino, a longtime advocate whose town sits at the Blue Line’s northern end, said it’s a “nice project’’ that he continues to support.

“Do I think it’s realistic to think that of all the transportation priorities that exist right now, that it’s going to make its way to the top of the list?’’ he said. “No.’’

Noah Bierman can be reached at [email protected].
© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
  by trainhq
I think the article pretty much says it all. I think everyone wants to see it get built, but if there's no money to do it, there's no money to do it; regardless of the Big Dig agreements. Doing the planning now won't matter much if it doesn't get built for another ten years or more. The T needs the money for other things that matter more now, like maintenance. That's where it ought to go.
  by RailBus63
The MBTA spending money on the the Red-Blue Connector project is like a unemployed homeowner having a new porch installed on a house that they can't afford to pay the mortgage on. It would be nice to have if you could swing it, but it's a luxury you can't afford for the forseeable future.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Only reason they're doing that is to buy time on the Big Dig commitment mandating it. They obviously can't afford it now, but they can't back out of another one altogether without getting sued again. So...delay by studying. They really don't have much of a choice in this case. They've burned every bridge on the transit commitments already. They don't have much leverage even with their financial situation to do it some more because these projects would already be built and running for less cost if they'd been more cooperative over the last 18 years when they had the chance to get 'em done at original cost.
  by RailBus63
Isn't there a far less expensive way to keep some minimal progress going on the project without spending $49 million dollars, though?

The grown-up course of action would be for the state and the T to go to CLF and company, put all of the cards on the table and start a dialogue to determine what projects can be realistically pursued in the current economic environment. I understand that many people are angry with the state and the MBTA for breaking past promises, but I can't believe that they'd rather see $50 million dollars spent on a stalled project just to prove a point when those dollars could be better used on other projects that will bring more immediate benefits.
  by l008com
I like this project. It's step one to extending the blue line under the charles, and up the lowell line :-D
  by mattl
so i was chatting to someone this week who said that the emergency exit at Bowdoin goes right down to near the Fire Station on Cambridge St.

This is pretty close to Charles.
  by BostonUrbEx
mattl wrote:so i was chatting to someone this week who said that the emergency exit at Bowdoin goes right down to near the Fire Station on Cambridge St.

This is pretty close to Charles.
Thar she blows! In the median!

http://www.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=4 ... 2&t=h&z=20

I assume the actual tunnel stops maybe 10 feet east of that, assuming it runs up the center line of Cambridge. Could run right up the exit or even past it if it's under the westbound lanes.
  by mattl
Its not great but it would probably serve the purpose.
  by jamesinclair
Perhaps a pedestrian tunnel with moving walkways could be an easier solution?

How much longer would the tunnel be than the park-dtx one?
  by MBTA3247
There's a public meeting about the Red-Blue Connector coming up on May 3 at the Shriners Hospital Auditorium.

  by BostonUrbEx
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5139/546 ... 8d1f_o.png

Dashed lines are current track which would be eliminated. Solid blue lines are track which would be in place after the project concludes, and the dot-dash-dot-dash lines in the red box are Mass EOT's storage/crossover plans for Charles/MGH. The black boxes west of Bowdoin are for the relocated Bowdoin, roughly between Staniford and Joy Steets.

This leaves two tails for up to three 6-car trains, or up to 2 trains and a work train/equipment, with 2 of these spots at the platforms and one in the current westbound tunnel. The tunnel storage space could be left open then, so a train could be pulled off to allow for the changing of ends off the line, and then they can quickly get out and crossover into Government Center to head eastbound.

Infrastructure is here that can be utilized to our advantage, no need to go in swinging sledgehammers and bulldozing things over because it's not for revenue service.

Also, GC-State-Aquarium is 2300 feet. GC to MGH is ***3000 feet***! I plopped Bowdoin at roughly 1500-1500, compared to the current 2000-1000. I think the better location will also attract more ridership.
  by BostonUrbEx
BTW, does anyone know if there's a crossover currently on the tails? I have conflicting data which has me curious.
  by jwhite07
Yes. I believe this is an electronic version of the 1986 track map printed and sold by BSRA, which shows a single crossover on the tail tracks beyond the Bowdoin Loop:


Confirmed according to the Blue Line track schematic on page 2-27 of this document on the MBTA website:

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/docum ... 202009.pdf
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