Wavy Orange Line tracks

The Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership has posted a photo of the temporary tracks installed to let the Orange Line continue to run during the week as the Assembly Square station is built.

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As exxagerated as the photo makes

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the shoofly tracks look, it illustrates an example of classic MBTA waste. Note that this section of the Orange Line was originally three tracks (as evidenced by the stub in the right foreground of the picture).

But what did the MBTA do here? Instead of shifting traffic from the left (inbound) and center (outbound) tracks to the center (inbound) and right (outbound) tracks, which could have been accomplished by the simple expedient of throwing switches at Community College and Wellington, they took the "high-cost" approach of constructing unnecessary trackwork.

As a regular Haverhill/Reading line rider, I'm still very confused as to why they had to shift the commuter rail trracks at all.

And, of course, nobody apparently bothered to notice this during all the years of the "necessary" civic engagement, environmental studies, and public hearings.

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Because you can tell

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Because you can tell from that photo that the third, disused set of tracks is up to the same standard as the tracks that are used every day. Maybe it was simpler and cheaper to relocate a small length of track than to test and upgrade a long length. You're probably right about the commuter rail tracks, though. I'm sure they moved those purely out of spite.

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Are you blind?

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The work intrudes on the space where the middle track goes. Therefore the whole bit had to be moved. It's quite visible in the picture. Since the rails are so close together, they all have to be moved. Support beams need to be installed where at least two sets of tracks can go through so that they can build the station over the tracks while they're actually in operation. You could make the argument that they should be accomodating all three tracks instead of just two, but then I'm not an engineer and I don't know what the final structure is going to look like.

I guess this is the part where you ask who the idiot at the T was that put the rails so close together.

And the curve takes the subway line too close to the CR, that's why the CR had to be moved.

The closed platform at

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The closed platform at Community College used by the third unused Orange Line track does not have an elevator, if they were just going to have trains cross-over there, they would have had to install an elevator at that platform. Probably cheaper to shift the tracks north of Sullivan than build another elevator.

Also, the curve in the commuter rail tracks has always been there, the commuter rail tracks were not moved. Notice in the photo that the middle Orange Line track (the regular northbound track) was shifted over to use the third unused track, but the third track is otherwise still in the same alignment as it has always had. The southbound track is shifted to use the regular northbound track, but that track is also in the location it has always been in. There was already a curve in all of the tracks at this spot before the Assembly Sq. work began,its just exxagerated by a the shoefly and I presume a telephoto lense.

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Didn't occur to me about the elevator

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(or lack thereof) at Community College. But that's a logical reason for not using the eastmost track from end to end.

And you're right about the Orange Line and commuter rail track alignments - I go by this location twice a day, usually on the commuter rail, but sometimes on the Orange Line (one of the ereasons I immediately knew the photo was screwy).

Which leads to the next question - will the mall actually have an anchor store to support it by the time the station is built (now that Ikea has pulled out of the deal)?

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Not sure about an anchor store

but the development is quite a bit more than just a mall. It will have retail, but it is also heavily focused on residential and business space. People living there will use the station for commuting, just as an example.

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Should be fun.

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Should be fun. During peak hours the train is often full when it leaves Malden Center.

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Quick Trip

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It's going to be a quick trip from Wellington to Assembly Square.

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