South Boston residents worried about toxic dust from MBTA's planned Red Line test track

The Herald reports on opposition from residents along the dormant Track 61 to the T's plan to electrify much of the route so it can test the new Red Line cars we'll be getting in a few years.



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Why doesn't the MBTA

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Simply build the test track in, oooo I don't know Springfield. Test them where their being manufactured and prior to shipping.

What About Their Engineers?

What about management? What about the T's mechanics?

Do you want them uplifted to Springfield from Greater Boston every morning? What happens when some of them are needed to straighten out a problem with the existing lines / trains here? Are you willing to be stuck between Harvard and Central for hours because the remote possibility that someone firing back shots at Coppersmith might have the very limited possibility of damage to their corporeal being over the damage being done from the Jaeger Bombs?

Great short term thinking there. Besides the track has been there for well over 140 years in one form or another. The residents of Broadway Village (cue laugh track) should have known better when buying into a still very industrial area as compared to the rest of the city that a little more industry might break out.

Myopic ideas shouldn't drive $32 million investments

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The MBTA does have alternatives right in the Boston area along the Braintree line -- an alternative that doesn't disrupt a residential neighborhood. Besides, the comment about the engineers being sent to Springfield assumes that a majority of the MBTA's engineers will be dedicated to the test track activities. There will be only 3-4 MBTA engineers on the site, if this means there wont be any engineers to service the rest of the MBTA lines then the MBTA has greater management problems than we all realize.

bigger worries

I'd worry more about the abatement of the Boston Edison Plant up at Summer & First Streets, that has been a silent killer for years.


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Logan dumping jet engine particulates from low flying planes isn't great either, although the recent changes in flight paths mean less time over SB and Winthrop.

Let's get this straight

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Southie residents have been complaining about health issues related to the Excelon Plant and Logan Airport long before the newbies were a twinkle in their father's eyes. The resident of the Seaport and Fort Point Channel are the complainers on this track.

How big a concern is the toxic?

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Residents said they are also concerned about the possibility of contaminants affecting the air when work on the tracks and construction of a 5,000-square-foot testing facility on Cypher Street starts to disturb soil that is full of industrial pollutants. The area’s soil exceeds state limits for lead and chemical compounds, according to documents filed with City Hall.

Can they get it declared a superfund site, or some other federal intervention?

Couple of things here

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First, any toxicity already exists. They claim the rails and brakes grinding will cause a health issue. That's already the case with auto brakes on the streets.

This is about a dead rail line that will become noisy... that's all. The rest is window dressing.

Ballast stone that supports tracks is a white or near white color when new and eventually turns brown due to city dust and the fine powder created from flanged wheels on steel rails. What you are seeing is a combo of city dirt and rust on the stones.

That said... it is my understanding that the waterfront's long-range plan is to expand on container traffic and some could come in to an area near the end of this track. While the MBTA owns the track (now) CSX, the former owner, retained right-to-access and use (read this elsewhere), so in theory, this track could be converted back to freight use for that purpose. It will be REAL NOISY then.

Trains along the Fairmount branch were running fine under all fo the bridges, with some only about 20-years old yet they were deemed deficient. Several bridges over the tracks were replaced and raised to meet current height standards. The new height will allow for the eventual electrification fo the line but also will allow double-stack freight containers to pass under without a problem.

The Fairmount branch and its connection to Track 61 is the only rail line that makes a direct connection to the waterfront and would also be used by the military in times of national emergency. It is also the only branch that does not have a hazmat restriction like the NEC and Framingham branch that have tunnels and buildings over them.

I get a kick out of a lot of this. So many people want better rail transit but not what goes with it. Never move-in next to a railroad track, even if it is dead and not used. It can be re-activated at any time with little or no public input, or it could be turned into a rail-trail that might disrupt privacy. Either of these is usually a multi-year process of course. I saw this back in the 1980s when the NEC was closed for the build of the Southwest rail corridor from Boston to Forest Hills. People that moved in during the multi-year construction period got used to no train traffic or noise and when it returned there was a lot of gnashing of teeth and hand-wringing, and a mass exodus in some abutting neighborhoods. I mean.... really?

The T is seeking to use Track 61 for testing because the last time they did testing on the regular Red Line tracks they took a chance. If a test train derailed or broke down the whole line would be shut, and we all know the problems we have now with the Red line and all of the rest.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Track 61 will get a connection to the Red Line but at any point it can go back to being a freight track with not that much adjustment required.

Welcome to the big (and growing density) city.

500 words about nothing.

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500 words about nothing.

Clearly you don't know the history of the site otherwise you'd be slower to blame NIMBYs but don't let that stop you from running your trap.

Cipher St was, for approximately 80 years, a junkyard. The contents of that lot ranged from automotive to industrial waste to Edison castoffs and lots of other solid waste. The PCB level in the soil adjacent to the road and under the parking lot would impact your children's children's children. Look at the parking lot. They sequester the runoff (all those channels) in order to divert it off of the road.

When they did road work recently there was a hazmat containment field on the side of the road for about 4 weeks replacing some sort of underground vault cap.

So tell me why you think running trains through that is a non-issue again? Clean it up and then we'll talk, until then you can take your shitty opinion and shove it.