Anyone's rail dreams for the Everett-Chelsea-Airport Urban Ring have just been set back:
I argue that this is actually a step TOWARDS rail version of the Urban Ring. Most of the work being done to widen the ROW, shore up walls, improve drainage, etc. would all have to be done for rail anyway on this stretch of dedicated ROW. When the time comes to implement later phases of the Urban Ring, less work will be required in this area.
I would agree. The design schematics of the Haul Road show this thing could be widened into a 4-lane road if need be if the Urban Ring ever comes through. Which makes sense because this had to have been at least a 4-track ROW some decades before 1A and Logan got built up. They shift around the embankment fill in this build, but don't get rid of it entirely. Widening the 1A-era Bennington St. and Saratoga St. overpasses and doing a full retaining wall in lieu of the embankment fill lets them put whatever bus lanes or later tracks they want traffic-separated from the trucks. It's also a scant 3-4 blocks of ROW length that the Haul Road uses, and it doesn't join the ROW at all until south of the Curtis St. overpass. Not a big deal, not too expensive to widen if/when they ever do go ahead on the UR, and a very beneficial environmental justice project for getting the trucks away from the residences on those critical 3 blocks of Eastie neighborhood. The Haul Road was designed at the same time as the UR when it was last a front-burner project, with the current road design unchanged from then for accommodating the future full-blast Phase II BRT and Phase III rail plans.
I wouldn't have any concerns about mode compatibility. If anything, in the year 2400 or whenever they do actually try to build the UR I'd be worried that they cheap out by abandoning the widening and doing a stupid truck/bus single file at 10 MPH speed restricted like in the Transitway. Or perhaps give the same mob outfit the pavement contract as the Transitway. But there are no compromises to it as a transit route of one mode or another if they someday execute on their own plans