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Allston to get its commuter-rail station

Commuter-rail train in abandoned Allston rail yard

Imagine a train station in the middle of a thriving neighborhood.

State and city officials stood in a the door of a new commuter-rail coach parked in the old Allston freight yard to announce a $25-million train station.

West Station will be built near the present turnpike toll plaza and should open when the turnpike there is straightened, in 2020, state Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said.

The station will be servced by DMUs, single-car diesel units that could bring subway-like schedules.

Davey said he hopes the new trains could eventually go to North Station via the Grand Junction bridge over the Charles, but acknowledged that will take considerable work, both to fix the tracks and convince skeptical Cambridge officials.

Gov. Patrick said if the Grand Junction could be put into service, that could one day lead to service from Allston to Assembly Row in Somerville.

Davey said Harvard, which owns the freight yard, agreed to kick in a third of the station's cost. The state will pay another third, with the source of the remainder to be determined.

Patrick and Mayor Walsh said Harvard has also agreed to make the streets in the new neighborhood that will spring up over the next two decades "multi-modal" - to safely carry pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles.

Patrick, Davey and Walsh in the vestibule of the new commuter-rail car they used for the announcement:

Patrick, Davey, Walsh
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Comments

And now everyone in that barren wasteland of Allston will start selling their property with the feature of "close to coming soon West Station"

It will be like the Green Line extension in Somerville. My landlord in Union Square decided to increase the rent by $500/month because the T is coming (eventually). So I bought a place and moved to Roxbury.

But in all seriousness, I hope that this really does some good for the neighborhood and is well planned. Boston could certainly use more housing and neighborhoods with public transportation access and shopping amenities, etc.

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That's why they're kicking in some cash, to improve transport to the Allston campus once it comes back to life.

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Seems like the transportation advocates won this one. Glad to hear. I doubt that they'll ever be able to get trains running through Cambridge again, but this is a good start.

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I think I'm missing something. Where do these trains go if not to North Station?

And, is it a guarantee it will be DMUs or just expected at some point, and if not DMUs, then regular MBTA commuter rail trains?

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or Yawkey as the T is calling it on some maps. After that Back Bay, and South Station.

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It's the Framingham Worcester line.

It'll be between Newtonville and Yawkey on that line (or maybe a dedicated parallel rail for the DMUs?).

To get to North Station, you have to go over the Grand Junction, the piece of rail that crosses the Charles under the BU Bridge and goes smack through MIT/Kendall Square.

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The upcoming Boston Landing stop.

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Back Bay Station and South Station, possibly newly expanded Yawkey.

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Simple solution to the at grade crossing issue in Cambridge is to elevate the line just after the BU bridge on a modern modular concrete viaduct. Use the space under the elevated rail for a bus/bike route/linear path. The one MIT lab building built over the tracks could have that floor gutted and turned into a dedicated stop for MIT.

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Not quite. The viaduct would have to be about 2 miles long and there are already some buildings in Cambridge that are built in the air-rights over the grand junction tracks, so an elevated viaduct wouldn't really work. I think it would make a lot more sense in terms of feasibility, cost, and noise to put the tracks in a ditch, and rebuild the roads and sidewalks where they cross. There's only 5-6 overpasses, of about 20-30' in length that you'd have to build, rather than a viaduct 2 miles long.

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The grades to get down deep enough in an open cut would be so long they'd take the whole length. Rail grades have to be much gentler than road ones. The west end would be doable, but the east end not so much with the Medford and Cambridge St crossings. No room to drop down before them, and you could barely squeeze a grade in between Cambridge and Binney Sts, but you'd still be stuck with 2 grade crossings. Not to mention drainage issues.

A viaduct would face the same problems, and be rather unsightly, so good luck getting that approved.

And neither a viaduct nor a cut would be able to fit 2 tracks, meaning service could never be very frequent.

Folks, this will never happen.

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That solution is not at all simple, nor cheap.

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A red line stop in Adams Village somewhere on the Quincy/Braintree line? It would be great if local resident had a T stop nearby, without having to deal with potential iphone donation solicitors while walking to Fields Corner or Shawmut.

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Should be a station across from the S&S on the land where Dunks sits. Tracks already cross it, some pedestrian bridges already there. This area is underserved as it's just outside walking distance from Ashmont and North Quincy.

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That would be a good stop. It is a good distance from NQ to JFK and it could use a stop or two.

On that note, the Red Line should go all the way to Montello in Brockton. It is a straight shot through Holbrook to Montello.

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If expanded to Brockton. Braintree line trains are packed like sardine cans inbound in the morning.

The Morrisey rotary would be a great spot fot a station and would probably bring a lot of development to the area to the east.

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When the Braintree extension was built there were plans to go to Brockton. I believe when they introduced the now-given-up-on lettering scheme they even reserved a letter for Brockton service.

It would face a number of problems though, and honestly improving the existing commuter rail service is a much better idea.

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Better tie down the test tubes at MIT ....

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much larger/heavier trains already use those tracks, though they are either freight or empty commuter rail trains being moved between north and south station.

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Infrequently and at low speeds, batten down the test tubes , also more sophisticated experiment that will be unmentioned.

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...that they deserve a new $25 million dollar station? If it takes too long to get into town from Allston, then eliminate half the stops on the B line.

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There is plenty of Allston for which the B Line is not a great option.

As for the MBTA deserving a new station, this isn't about the MBTA deserving anything - it's about the people who live in a neighborhood having better options, and something that can help spur additional growth and Harvard and BU, while tying together an area torn apart by archaic (toll booths and unused rail yard) transportation infrastructure.

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How about a tax break for employers for not mandating that non-essential personnel come to work when they can stay home and work online?

That's the real transportation problem in our community. I still want to know how many people in Boston go to an office every day when they really don't have to with existing technology.

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Okay, I'll feed you.

Do you really think it should be the place of city/state government to guide the evolution of the workplace via tax breaks? There's already research on the costs/benefits of remote work vs. in person collaboration, but it's far from definitive, and certainly isn't well developed enough to indicate the best course of action.

Also, my opinion is that the real transportation problem in our community is that the car is still king, and even though there have been moves to make other modes more successful, the costs we pay by having so many people drive into the city is what really should be evaluated.

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Why should I wait for a ride somewhere when I can have a thing that gets me from A to B upon immediate demand without waiting for others? It's disingenuous for most any public official to tell somebody that they shouldn't use a car.

We all use the roads. There should absolutely be some guidance in the form of tax breaks to reduce the congestion we have during peak times. Everybody needs to work. Let's all find the best way to agree on getting work done and paying people to work as efficiently as they can.

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You can also have a 24-hour traffic utopia in California.

In the meantime, look to lovely Hartford and Detroit for what happens to real cities when the car is king. The car isn't a benevolent tyrant.

As for me, I'll continue to navigate this compact city laid out centuries before each person demanded zillions of personal square feet for transport with a much more appropriate vehicle for getting from A to B on demand without waiting for anyone.

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Too many people driving to work at the same time.

And if you think Detroit failed because of cars, you're misguided. I'll go with "can't pay the bills because they promised lifetime paychecks to municipal employees."

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Yeah, it's too bad California can't get with the program and embrace high-tech solutions like your brilliant dispatch from 2003.

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The freeways keep expanding, the city streets are comparable to highways, yet you can find yourself stuck in traffic on the 405 at 1 am on a Monday.

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Expanding roads just attracts more traffic. Witness Rte 3 to NH.

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Why should I wait for a ride somewhere when I can have a thing that gets me from A to B upon immediate demand without waiting for others?

Somebody call the waaaahmbulance.

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Go back to a cave.

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... under your bridge.

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You do realize the NEIGHBORHOOD HAD THESE TWO COMMUTER RAIL STOPS BEFORE THEY WERE TAKEN AWAY FOR THE SURBANITE SERVING MASS PIKE. The neighborhood got screwed out of transit for 50 years and only now is getting back service it had a half century ago!

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I believe it, though. Ditto for all the GLX stops - there was rail service there until the 1960s.

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The old stations were at around Brooks Street ("Faneuil"), Market Street, and the Allston Depot (a.k.a. Regina Pizza now). Also Newton Corner.

The new stations will be at around Everett Street and Babcock Street. So, shifted east a bit.

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I think this is a mistake.

Stations should be built within walking distance of where people want to go. Babcock Street is a quiet industrial area. It's on the extreme fringe of BU, a good mile walk from the campus core. It's also three quarters of a mile from Allston Village, which is and will continue to be the commercial and residential center for Allston.

Instead, I think they should reactivate the Pizzeria Regina station at Harvard Ave, and build a new station just east of the BU Bridge.

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The neighborhood got screwed out of transit for 50 years and only now is getting back service it had a half century ago!

There's a reason all the old trains were removed - nobody used them anymore. Hey, when I was a kid, I lived in Marshfield near where the old Greenbush line went thru and saw all the remnants of the old line. Bottom line is, there came a time when nobody used it. Nobody got screwed.

I'm not saying this to be a dick, I'm saying it because it's true. And yes, the demand for these trains has returned, and that's a good thing.

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I'm skeptical of that claim. The three stations were removed to extend the Mass. Pike. I doubt that the number of passengers had already declined so much that all three stations were not needed.

I live near the site of the old Faneuil Station. A former neighbor used to be the stationmaster there, and when it closed he took one of the signs and put it on his garage. I remember it growing up.

The good news is that the station at the New Balance development is scheduled to open in 2016.

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What has the Turnpike Authority done to prove they deserve a 250 million dollar project here? Its not about the authorities (MTA or MBTA), its about the people who live or work there who will benefit from the new station and straightening project.

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the existing Pike viaducts are badly need of replacement. Straightening the Turnpike instead of just replacing the existing bridges in kind is a logical solution.

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Oh, I think it's great. Yes, the B Line goes up through the neighborhood but this new line is far enough away from the B Line that it will appeal to additional commuters.

So, wait, is this the same line that will connect to the new New Balance station?

Oh, and you're all missing the obvious that you haven't been told. This new station will no doubt be used to ferry passengers going to and from the new Olympic Village.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.

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It's the same line as New Balance

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That they deserve any federal funding for anything?

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Does the MBTA get to run this new station? I think for $17 million in public money, the public deserves to have another agency get a chance at running a piece of public rail infrastructure.

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Ahem (massive car project) ahem (overruns ate transit money) ahem (state got ass busted by feds for not fulfilling contracts) ahem (idiot asswipe from Western MA granstanding about "not subsidizing Boston") ahem.

No, nothing like dumping massive cost overrun debt from a massive highway project onto the transit system because the Feds dared to demand that MA complete their agreed to contract, oh no siree.

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By "massive highway project", you mean "overpriced useless transit projects which were environmental mitigation for the highway project". I.e. the Silver Line and Greenbush commuter rail -- that's the T's debt.

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Well Baker did help dump a lot of the Big Dig debt into the MBTA (and future generations), but I dont know why you blame the MBTA for getting Bakered. Blame Big Dig Baker.

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The legislature went along with it. One man made a bad suggestion and hundreds under the golden dome agreed to screw over the citizenry.

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Go to the corner of Lincoln and Portsmouth.

Now, I'll meet you at the Pru. When do you think you'll get there?

One of the serious options that Google offers in the 50-60 minute time frame? Take the 86 to Harvard, switch to the Red Line inbound, Switch to the Green Line at Park, then go out to Copley. It's fastest to cross the river twice and use 3 different lines/buses!

Another option of similar speed, walk over a mile for 30 minutes to Allston St and get on the B line the rest of the way. Wow! Sign me up!

By the way, it's 8 minutes to drive there by jumping on the Pike and jumping right back off again. That also only costs $1.25 in tolls and 5 miles in gas compared to a $2.10 MBTA ticket.

The train would pick you up about 3 blocks away and drop you off on the Pru's doorstep once this is done. In fact, if you came from twice as far away and got on the train at the Newtonville Commuter Rail stop, it takes you 15 minutes to get to Back Bay.

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Left on Lincoln, left on Cambridge, right on Soldiers Field, exit at Fenway, down Boylston, boom. No toll.

That ain't five miles either.

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"By the way, it's 8 minutes to drive there by jumping on the Pike and jumping right back off again. That also only costs $1.25 in tolls and 5 miles in gas compared to a $2.10 MBTA ticket."

And then, of course, it's free to park. Oh wait...

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my daily commute.

Although most days I choose option C) Risk life biking on Cambridge Street to the Charles River Path. 20 minutes.

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Want some cheese with that whine?

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Both the B line and the 66 are terribly overburdened at peak times (and many nights "peak time" is 5pm-11pm). This new line to Central Square and North Station will take some pressure off of both of those options, which should help them run closer to schedule.
I would also note that a lot of the folks coming to and from Allston that are not students, work jobs that are not eligible for telecommuting (food service, janitorial, adjunct faculty etc.).

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I worked out of 2 or 3 joints in the immediate area, starting time well before any public transportation was running , and I don't think telecommuting would have been an option , maybe teleporting .

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This is great news! In addition to linking Allston to South Station, West Station is envisioned to become a major transfer station, playing a role similar to North and South Station.

Boston Magazine shows a map of some of the possible service patterns, focusing on DMU services: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/09/30/mbta-allston-west-sta... The New Balance stop is also on there, labeled as "Allston/Brighton"

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There's no natural reason to transfer there.

The only transferring shown on that map would be from a through train to an Allston-North Station shuttle. Instead, they should run some Worcester Line trains directly to North Station.

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Trains coming from the south and west do not need a direct link to Cambridge, they already have that with the Redline. Trains ending at North Station need a link to Cambridge. Otherwise it is the orange to the red or the green to the red....too many connections.

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The MBTA is playing hardball with State Rep Tim Toomey (D-Cambridge) who is also a Cambridge City Councilor.

At stake is how long Lechmere will be closed when they build the new station for the Somerville extension.

Problem is the Grand Junction crosses Mass Ave near MIT, Broadway, Cambridge St and Medford St in Somerville. The line has been dormant for a while as repairs are needed for the bridge over the Charles.

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The Grand Junction is used daily by the MBTA, and multiple times a week by Amtrak and CSX.

It is in no sense "dormant".

And despite how many times politicians suggest it, the Grand Junction will NEVER host frequent passenger service, ever.

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Elevate the line to eliminate the grade crossing and all the problems go away.

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Especially since it goes through buildings.

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Except, of course, to the Red Line.

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That sounds practical. It's not like there would be any potential flooding issues, right? Probably wouldn't cost any more than burying the Central Artery.

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Just trench it like the Orange Line from Forest Hills -> Back Bay. In the future, people can throw a roof on it and build, kind of like on the Pike's trench.

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The red line is in the way. The red line is in the way.

See also: maximum railroad grades. It's not as simple as "building an underpass". Trains need a LOT of running room to avoid stalling out.

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The parking garage underneath the Stata Center (Main and Vassar Streets) extends three stories underground, and it's always bone dry inside.

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/statagrandjct.jpg)

So, there's no reason why a new rapid transit line can't be built crossing under the Red Line, with a new underground station connecting the two lines at that location.

( Except, of course, people with little imagination and whose first reaction is to say "No" to everything. )

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I would chock that up to the private sector,
"innovative storm water retention and management system that employs biofiltration and which services several of the surrounding buildings as well as the Stata Center."
That sounds very sexy and MITi-ish. Wouldn't expect that from the public sector, so sorry.

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Yes, it's nice that MIT recycles storm water runoff to flush toilets in the Stata Center, but that really has nothing to do with proper underground construction. Indeed, Building 36 (right next door to Stata) has a sub-basement that's nearly as deep, but it was built more than forty years ago. MIT hides no secrets to successful engineering; anyone can build properly if they take the time to "read the instructions" and avoid making stupid mistakes.

It saddens me that you expect so little from any public works project. Not that I don't understand your feelings; time and time again, we've been disappointed by projects that cost too much, delivered too little, never worked properly, caused more problems than they solved, or never were built at all. Nonetheless, I haven't lost all hope that it's possible to at least sometimes do things right.

Fifty years ago, at the New York World's Fair, my 8-year old head was filled with dreams of the future. Riding on the subways of Boston and New York was exciting, but when I was fifteen, my summer camp turned us loose in downtown Montreal for the day! I spent most of my time exploring the Underground City and riding on the fabulous new Metro subway. Naturally, I thought it wouldn't be long before all cities in the U.S. did such wonderful things with urban construction and rapid transit. Different times, different places, but I still love to dream!

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These aren't subway cars. The MBTA's commuter rail grade standards ( https://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Business_Center/Bidding_and_Solicitat... ) are 0.7% preferred maximum grading and 1.5% absolute maximum grading. That absolute is assuming no freight will run on the same line (which isn't true, freight runs on Grand Junction from time to time).

So, let's say 1 foot of rise every 100 feet of track. The standards also say a bare minimum of 16'-4" and a preferred 22'-6" is required for overhead clearance, so let's say 20' for simplicity (again, freight carriers can request more of the project too).

So, you need 2000 feet of track on either side of the tunnel just to put a piece of plywood over the track.

And you want to bury it under the Red Line? You'd probably need to start lowering the track around Worcester so you can go under the Charles too, because you're not going to go through it.

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The idea is for frequently running rapid transit service through the corridor. It should not share the rails with freight or intercity passenger trains; they run so infrequently that the current on-grade system works just fine. A new rapid-transit-only tunnel and station connecting to the Red Line would not entail that much drama.

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at minimal cost and run trains. People and trains have co-existed for decades, they co-exist today on both the commuter rail system and in most other parts of the country.

"OMG, we can't have level crossings" is just another excuse being fronted by the NIMBY contingent to block a necessary transportation improvement.

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The commuter rail goes right through the heart of Needham every day. It can go right through the heart of MIT/Kendall too.

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Sure, they're mostly light rail, but I've noticed that in cities that have built new lines, they deal with higher land and construction costs by putting the lines on street level downtown, with crossing gates to give the trains priority.

Oddly enough, that is what happens on the Grand Junction line now, just much less frequently.

If LA can do it, if Denver can do it, if Minneapolis can do it, if a city that loves itself too much and is also the former hometown to a frequent commenter here can do it, then why can't we run these things grade level here. The cars and pedestrians can wait the 30 seconds for the trains to go by 3 to 6 times an hour!

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There is a HUGE difference between light rail and heavy rail. Apples to oranges.

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If they are running DMUs (or EMUs) you are talking shorter trains and similar speeds. But regulatory wise, they are different.

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I wonder if some of this is cloaking for what that rail line passes by in Cambridge, and not drawing attention to it.

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SHHHH Swirls dont ask , dont tell dont talk about it!

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Harry, what's your take on the announcement?

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For this to be a great transit hub, it must be well-connected in two ways:

1) Frequency of service (to both Kendall / North Station and Yawkey/ South Station)

2) Accessibility from the north and south by foot, bus, bike, and car? If you are coming from Comm Ave / Babcock Street, what happens when you get to Linden Street? If you are coming from Cambridge Street, how do you cross over the 8 lane Turnpike, several lanes of frontage roads, and a large railyard.

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I've never understood why the train passes through there without stopping, only to stop at three much less busy Newton stations further west.

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Until it was demolished by Callahan, conspiring with the negligent stewards of the B&A railroad, in order to create the Mass Pike extension, and the total mess of a rotary at Newton Corner. The station was replaced by express buses.

Come to think of it, Callahan also royally screwed up Comm Ave/BU Bridge. And Cambridge Street in Allston.

Callahan wasn't very good at that whole street design gig... what an asshole.

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The Pike express buses run far more frequently, and serve many more destinations within walking distance, than the commuter rail would if it existed in Newton Corner.

Traffic can be a problem. They could solve it by making a bus lane on the Pike, and then running buses even more frequently to make it worthwhile. That's what Seattle did -- you can zip from outer city neighborhoods to downtown on an I-5 bus. And it's even covered by local fares.

Express fares only kick in for even longer trips. And they max out at $3.50 for a 30-mile trip, unlike the T's express buses which can cost $5.25 on a CharlieCard or $6.80 cash for a 10-mile trip from West Newton to Boston.

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I didn't denigrate express buses. I just said that's what replaced the Newton Corner station. I did criticize the horrendous intersection design left behind by Callahan on his various overpasses of I-90. I'm just one of many tens of thousands of people who have to deal with these terrible intersections every day.

Anyway, I'm a fan of express buses, and I hope they're expanded in scope, span and frequency. The current schedules are really lame.

Traffic can be a problem. They could solve it by making a bus lane on the Pike, and then running buses even more frequently to make it worthwhile.

I'd support this. But I can guarantee you that it will be a long time before MassDOT and many people in power would ever, ever consent to converting a travel lane on the Pike into a bus-only lane. That's just realism. I hope that someday it might be possible to consider. But for now, we have to make best use of the existing dedicated public transit lanes in the Mass Pike corridor: the Framingham/Worcester MBTA commuter rail line. Remember: the railroad was almost completely gutted when the Mass Pike extension was built, leaving behind almost nothing close to the true potential of such a corridor.

Someday I hope that the mistakes/compromises of the Mass Pike extension are cleaned up, then the service levels on the commuter rail line can be more than adequate for just about anything you might dream.

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Didn't need Newton Station back in 1962; Just take the "A" Watertown trolley. Too bad that went away in 1968. Back then the railroad offered only a handfull of trips a day, and had just sold the Highland Branch (Riverside "D") to the MTA, so no more Newton loop service. Plus traffic wasn't so bad and you had a brand new highway! And the trolley was what, ten cents?

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While the press conference went on: passengers were stuck on a disabled train because the newest, and desperately needed, equipment was put to use as a demonstration piece.

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Don't forget to get a few more props for Southcoast rail , one for New Beige , one for Fall Rive, stage them there ,like the coming attractions segment at the movies.

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During the Romney years they built a tunnel through Hingham center so that locals wouldn't be bothered by the unsightly trains when they shopped. I am sure they can figure out something similar for the smaller DMUs for some of the grade crossings along Grand Junction in Cambridge.

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Some of those buildings were held together by years upon years white paint applications. If I were King back then , I'd run a D8 back and forth a few times......l
Once the people see the DMUs in action , everybody will want them., that's even if they are made unconvoluted like the old NHRR had , which I doubt. Probably need some major$$$$$ modifications to run through Cambridge.

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