Old support beams for the Orange Line el never die - they just get buried underground for several decades

Old support beams for Orange Line tracks at Forest Hills

Liam photographs a couple of the beams that workers on the new residential complex on Hyde Park Avenue near the Forest Hills T stop have dug up.

Before 1987, when the new Orange Line alignment opened up, riders traveled on elevated tracks along Washington Street - tracks that continued past the station into a train yard that went up to Walk Hill Street. You can see the support beams in this photo, from a Library of Congress collection (note the now gone Casey Overpass, as well):

Old Forest Hills Orange Line train yard

See it larger.



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I remember when MBTA management promised the Roxbury, South End neighborhoods a replacement service similar to the Old Orange Line trains. They gave these residents buses painted silver with a dedicated bus lane where everyone double parks and bus shelters full of passed out drug addicts.

Also in the T's defense

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They proposed a light rail line down Washington Street, but the neighborhood "experts" didn't want it.

So they got the BRT (barely rapid transit) instead. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

Half true

What they proposed was "the B line"; an exclusive rail-only ballasted corridor, where half the cross streets would be closed and pedestrian crossings eliminated except at cross streets, and huge fences blocking any attempt at passage cross the tracks . No one builds light rail that way any more, even at that time

No one builds light rail that

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No one builds light rail that way any more, even at that time

Interestingly, we've also been told (when they ripped out the remains of Heath-Arborway E infrastructure) that "no one" builds light rail that way (streetcar) anymore - which is also incorrect.

Yes, you've got to account for accessible boarding, etc... but it can be done.

Also in the T's defense

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There were something like 15 different proposals, and only a few (perhaps 3) were for light rail.

I will disagree with you, though. My takeaway at the time was that the neighborhood wanted the rail, while the T was pushing for buses. You know, costs and whatnot.

Someday I'll track down the replacement transit document. It is very buried, what, coming out 30 years ago.


"Hi, this is Father Time. Just wanted to let you know it's been thirty years since the new Orange Line opened. Have a nice day."

Since 1987, the subway system

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Since 1987, the subway system has added ONE station(Assembly Square, a sop to developers and the mayor of Somerville) and hasn't added one inch of track.

Sure, except

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That since the reopening of the Needham Line (associated with the realignment of the Orange Line) the MBTA has opened 35 new stations, extended 4 lines, and constructed 3 new lines to provide more transit options for the region. And at the end of all of that, they cannot maintain the system they created.

But before you speak ill of the Commuter Rail system, let's remember that there are only 2 1/2 extension of the heavy and light rail parts of the system that were even a twinkle in the eye of the T in 1987, one of which is being built as we speak (figuratively, in that construction has been paused.) And the 1/2 extension is on kilometer and one station.

Since '87...

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Since '87...

Net add subway stations? Extend the subway system? No and No.

But - they have gut renovated/replaced some stations in that time, and improved ADA compliance.

They also consolidated a couple of Green Line stops and renovated/replaced a couple of stations. (...and, yes, put a bullet into pipe dreams of restored service on A and E by pulling out the old infrastructure)

...and added/restored commuter rail in several places.

Plans for that corner?

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Does anyone know if more residences are going to be built on that corner? Have been wondering what's up.

Buried treasure...

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Love that.
I wonder if those date from all the way back to 1908 or if they were additional support beams added later?
I have always read that the El was built with about 50% more steel than what was required at the time. Even with deferred maintenance, especially from 1960s onward, the El was in great shape when it was taken down in 87. Pretty? No. But solid.

Not sure -

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I thought that I heard the reason that excess steel was used (at least in the Casey Overpass) was due to the lower quality of the steel at the time due to war time shortages that necessitated changes in the composition of the steel during production.

i.e., the low quality steel beams had to be much larger to support a comparable amount of weight that would otherwise be handled by smaller, but higher quality, steel beams.

500Monkeys probably knows...


Sounds vaguely familiar, but I don't know for sure...

El was built 1901-1909

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So there wouldn't have been any wars shortages going on at that time. I'm quite sure the El was overbuilt and therefore structurally sound in 87, even after years of neglect. Just don't have any citations on hand at the moment, sorry.
Not an expert on the Casey construction, but it was done in the early to mid 50s, several years after WW2. We were involved in Korea at the time, but that certainly didn't stop the many infanstructure projects going on in the US at the time, most especially anything auto related.

El station girders in 1909

Here's a link to a view of "these" girders on the south side of the El station in 1909 from the Boston City Archives Flickr account:

The rest of the album contains more than a few interesting historic shots of the area:

The Boston Globe archive does have an article from September 16, 1951 that mentions a bit of trepidation on acquiring the needed steel for the Casey Overpass: "The overpass will use 4600 tons of structural steel. The M.D.C. men believe they'll get it. Relief of traffic congestion in cities usually is pretty high on the government's priority list when it comes to alloting steel." Which is, I believe, a reference to post-war shortages (if not to quality).

Wasn't there a staredown

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Wasn't there a staredown around that time between Truman and US Steel, or between US Steel and their unions?