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The quietly coming along T project

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2822/33855848940_e3f72a8c36_z.jpg)
Near Box District Station (See it larger)

Some of you may not know but I take photographs of the construction of the Silver Line Gateway Project in Chelsea. I've been doing this every month or so since the construction started in April 2015.

However, since I don't want to trespass, my photos are usually taken from public ways and sidewalks. But last Thursday (4/20), I was finally able to get a walking tour of the project with a MassDOT engineer and learn some things about the project.

For those of you that don't know, MassDOT is building busway with four new BRT startions over an old abandoned railroad bed in Chelsea, called the Silver Line Gateway Project. When it's finished, it will be used by the MBTA to extend the Silver Line to Chelsea.

This would create the "SL3" route (a new route) starting at South Station. It would follow the same route as the current Silver Line Waterfront buses, except bypass the Airport and head directly to Airport Station (to make a SL to BL link). Then SL3 leaves Airport Station, continues down the airport access road to the Coughlin Bypass Road in East Boston, over the Chelsea Street Bridge and onto the new busway. (Click here to see full route map)

Once the buses are on the new busway, they will service four new Silver Line BRT stops; Eastern Ave, Box District, Bellingham Sq, and Chelsea Station(s). The buses will end and turn around at Chelsea Station, behind Market Basket. (and the future commuter rail station, which is a part of Phase II.) (Click here to see Chelsea detail map)

Along side most of the the new busway, a shared use path is being built in conjunction with the City of Chelsea, which at some point in the near future, the plan is to connect this to the East Boston Greenway via the Chelsea Street Bridge.

This busway project is a neat project because it's going to feature signal prioritization and be This means at almost all crossings (and all crossings after Phase II) will have signals to give the buses in the busway right of way to car traffic.

The stations will have fare machines, security cameras, heated shelters, and a few other amenities. The entire project area will be well lit along with it being well secured, as most of the light poles will have cameras on them also.

This project is really just coming along without much issue. It's slightly behind its original plan (which early winter 2017), but that's only to add some items from Phase II on to Phase I (the initial set of signals, the ramp to Washington Ave, and a few other things). So the delay was a good thing, we're getting more than originally planned and it's going to be even better when it opens!

Planned opening is Spring 2018.

If you'd like to look at the complete set of all 200+ photos from the tour, you can do so by clicking here.

More information about the project can be found by clicking here.

And if you want to see older photo sets (or any of my other picture projects), you can browse my entire Flickr account by clicking here.

Some additional photos from the set:

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2931/33855625200_93646978ae_z.jpg)
Outbound Canopy at Eastern Ave Station (See it larger)

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2857/34199204296_bb907d340e_z.jpg)
Nearly finished retaining wall, and grading for the shared use path (See it larger)

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2943/34239785165_29b95abdf8_z.jpg)
A view in the new busway with the Broadway Bridge in the background (See it larger)

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Comments

I hope you enjoy my photos. I wanted to add this as a line in here.. I'm super busy at my new job so I have little time to view Uhub during the day. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can on my lunch break (and before I head to work at 10).. but if I am not replying, you know why :-)

But I know y'all will have questions, you always do.

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This is a fine story. Reportage merveilleuse!

Now maybe I can make it to Katz's one of these days. ;-)

I hope for your sake that you will enjoy some direct benefit from this SL extension.

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I hope for your sake that you will enjoy some direct benefit from this SL extension.

Sadly no, my new job is next to Wellington Station so I go in the absolute opposite direction :-)

But I am excited that I will now have a one seat ride to the Airport (or at least the Massport shuttle buses at Airport Station). It'll also be nice to have a faster connection to the Blue Line too.

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The MBTA's printed system map, which shows th line under construction on the rapid transit system map, identifies the Route as the SL3, not the SL6.

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Can you provide a link to this? I was told by a couple of people who work at the T that this route was going to be the SL6.

The SL3 is a decommissioned route that used to run to City Point, and typically the T does not re-use bus numbers.

I will ask again if you can provide me a link so I can get clarification on this...

I'll also try to pick up a map at the station tonight, but I just checked a few schedules online and I see nothing showing "construction" :-) But happy to be corrected, but I'd like to verify it.

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Hi,

I am the project manager from the MBTA assigned to Silver Line Gateway and the new Silver line Route will be SL3.

Best Regards
John

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Thanks, Post updated :-)

I was mistaken.. again!

John, could you please reach out to me either via Social Media or some how. I'd like to speak to you as I only have talked with MassDOT employees about this project.

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It is the printed 2016-2018 official public transit system map (the bus system map, says metro pcs on the cover as a sponser). The insert map on the back that includes just the rapid transit and commuter rail system shows both GLX and Silver Line Gateway as under construction, and uses SL3 to identify the Chelsea service.
The online version of the bus map does not include the insert, you need to get the old fashioned printed map to see it.

The MBTA actually has reused bus route numbers multiple times in the past. Route 14 for example was once a route from Freeport&Mill St. to Fields Corner but today is a route from Heath St. to Roslindale
(1974 list of routes linked here: http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=14052 )

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I've been enjoying your SL Gateway posts on Archboston for a few years, so good to see this posting make it more accessible to a broader audience. I love this project, and am much more aware and knowledgeable about it thanks to your efforts.

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1. I assume all of this extension is using diesel as opposed to overhead catenary wire?
2. Are they adding new buses for this? I thought the company was out of business? Or just stretching the usage of the existing fleet?
3. Any chance this will prompt the T/Massport to finally add signal prioritization to the D street crossing? PLEASE.
4. Signage and crowd control at South Station busway is going to need a massive improvement. The current system is confusing enough for people trying to get to the airport and now SL1 will be logan airport, but SL6 will stop at Airport station?

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1. I assume all of this extension is using diesel as opposed to overhead catenary wire?

Yes and Hybrid buses like the current fleet

2. Are they adding new buses for this? I thought the company was out of business? Or just stretching the usage of the existing fleet?

No new buses for this. However, the buses are being refurbished in Maine are needed to run the additional service

3. Any chance this will prompt the T/Massport to finally add signal prioritization to the D street crossing? PLEASE.

While I agree with you about getting this fixed, unfortunate this has nothing to do with that and is outside of the scope of the project. Also that's an issue between the MBTA and the City of Boston. (This is really a MassDOT and City of Chelsea Project.. the only thing the MBTA is doing is providing the service)

4. Signage and crowd control at South Station busway is going to need a massive improvement. The current system is confusing enough for people trying to get to the airport and now SL1 will be logan airport, but SL6 will stop at Airport station?

Yes it will stop at Airport Station. Again, South Station issues are outside of the scope of this project. That's more of a MBTA issue..

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No questions but that was pretty cool to see, learn, and read about. Thank you.

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Trump like...

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Great pictures, thanks for sharing!

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I really like this project. Do we know what the expected rush hour travel time is for the route (Chelsea Station to South Station, or Chelsea Station to Airport Station to Government Center)? If it's fast enough, expect young white collars to start moving into Chelsea in chase of lower rents, fast commutes, and urban living without an auto.

And then, of course, development pressure in Chelsea to add more housing units.

Which is a good thing. Allowing more folks to live near downtown means a more prosperous Boston Metro. Higher use of the Blue Line (the only non-crammed subway line) is a good thing too.

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Do we know what the expected rush hour travel time is for the route (Chelsea Station to South Station, or Chelsea Station to Airport Station to Government Center)?

I know the headway is going to be every 3-7 minutes during rush.

I'd have to look at the old documents on the website to find what the travel times would be along the line. Let me dig for you.

Higher use of the Blue Line (the only non-crammed subway line) is a good thing too.

I agree. I think we're going to see alot of people using it as a faster connection to the Blue Line vs people going all the way to the Seaport.

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Nice write up. Should be a good project for the Chelsea area. It defies logic that the silver line doesn't already have signal priority. I'm not math expert but 50 people on a bus > 1 person in a car.

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Green line needs it too, particularly the B and C lines.

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There is currently a study for TSP at Carlton Street (St Marys Station) on the C Line. It's progressing very slowly.

And yes, TSP nerds, the inbound station is on the "wrong side" for TSP. Nevertheless, the outbound side isn't, and Brookline&MBTA want to work out the kinks with this one intersection before progressing.

Brookline Town Meeting pushed on this 3-5 years ago, and Brookline has paid for the work. I think it's reasonable for the town to fund the study, as the vast majority of C Line above ground is in Brookline. When it comes time to roll out hardware, I expect that the T will work with each community on who does (and pays for) what.

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I was very careful in selecting my words for the write up above. But along the new busway it's going to almost be "Gold" standard BRT. Signal Prioritization at all the crossings (after Phase II). Which is something the T doesn't have anywhere in its current system.

it's really going to be a showcase on what you can do with BRT. Verses the SL Washington Street.. which is sad excuse for BRT. (because it's not)

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This will make it a lot easier to get to Market Basket from the Seaport District. I can't wait. More shopping options. SL6 can't open soon enough

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I made a comment to the engineer (who laughed) about how... "I'm sure when the MBTA approached Demoulas about taking over part of their parking lot for a BRT station, they were all for it. More customers for their store!"

And it's true. The 112 and 114 is just unreliable. This will bring alot of customers riding the SL3 for this purpose alone.

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Will be another benefit for Seaport residents and businesses.

It is well known that the Silver Line is way over capacity during rush hours, and headways are too infrequent at off-peak times. At 2:55 pm today there were about 100 people waiting on the South Station platform for SL1 and SL2 buses.

Some of the largest Seaport Square buildings to date are opening this summer (including two apartment buildings, movie theater, bowling alley and huge restaurants), and Sail Boston is going to be attracting huge crowds. We need capacity increased ASAP!

I would like to see some greater detail on whether there is enough capacity with the current fleet, including refurbished buses from Maine, to properly serve all the lines.

PS: Thanks for the good work, Cybah. I follow your updates over on Arch as well.

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BRT is the future of Public Transportation and it looks like the MBTA got this right. After the fiasco called the Silver Lie I am a little skeptical. Once completed I hope the Chelsea line does not become a speedway for drag racing and dirt bikes.

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Mad Max meets the MBTA?

The Main Force Patrol.... erm MBTA police will put a stop to those skags!

PROTECT RIGHT & like Captain Fefe says, "give them back their heroes".

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BRT is the future of Public Transportation and it looks like the MBTA got this right. After the fiasco called the Silver Lie I am a little skeptical.

I think the state learned its lesson after the Silver Line Washington and Waterfront.. that they built some over engineered PoS and didn't bother listen to industry standards. That has changed.

It also helps that this really is a MassDOT project. They are funding it, building it, managing it, and owning it. The only thing the MBTA is doing is providing service on the roadway. That might be the key difference.

Once completed I hope the Chelsea line does not become a speedway for drag racing and dirt bikes.

Amazingly enough we don't have those problems (I know, right?). However, as I said in the post most of the BRT line is going to be well lit with cameras everywhere, so at least these folks will be caught if they do. The City is also going to have their hand at policing the area too (along with snow removal). So I think it should be OK. My biggest fear is graffiti, which has already happened. But I think once the buses start running, it'll become seldom because there will be at least one bus traveling that busway at all times.

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Living on the other side of the harbor/Mystic I tend to forget projects like this. This should be great once completed. Nothing against the 111, but this will be a more tangible link from Boston to Chelsea.

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Anyone who rides the 111 has a love hate relationship with that bus route :-)

At a minimum, the SL3 will provide a faster link from downtown Chelsea to the Blue Line. I think this is going to be the most used feature. Currently it takes, in traffic ~14 minutes (my rough estimate) from Bellingham Sq to Maverick Sq in Eastie. SL3 should cut that in half.

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