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Part of Green Line Extension to be shut for six weeks this summer, part of the Green Line downtown for 12 days

Update: Union Square shutdown delayed until at least September.

The MBTA announced today that the Green Line Extension will be shut between Lechmere and Union Square for six weeks starting July 18, not because there's anything wrong with the tracks this time, but so MassDOT can make repairs to the Squires Bridge, over which McGrath Highway crosses the tracks near Union Square.

Also, the Green Line will be shut between North Station and Government Center between July 29 and Aug. 9 because of the ongoing demolition of the Government Center Garage.

Riders headed from Union Square Station can instead utilize Route 86 (boarding at Somerville Ave. opp Stone Ave. and alighting at Washington St. at New Washington St.) and Route 91 (boarding at Prospect St. at Bennett Ct. and alighting at Washington St. at New Washington St.) bus service from the Union Square to East Somerville Station areas for continued service on the Medford/Tufts branch.

Riders headed to Union Square Station can instead board Medford/Tufts Branch service to East Somerville Station and then utilize Routes 86 and 91 bus service (boarding at Washington St. at Tufts St. and alighting at Somerville Ave. at Stone Ave.) to the Union Square area.

Riders may also utilize Route 87 bus service by boarding at Lechmere Station and alighting in the Union Square area at Somerville Ave. at Stone Ave.

As for people trying to get somewhere near Haymarket when that stretch of tracks is closed:

Green Line service will be suspended between North Station and Government Center Station with riders instead asked to walk above ground between these stations – Government Center, Haymarket, and North Station are each less than a half mile from each other (about a five- to 10-minute walk), and the distance between Government Center to North Station is about three-quarters of a mile (about a 13-minute walk).

Accessibility vans will also be available for on-demand transportation – Orange and Green Line riders should ask MBTA personnel for information and assistance.

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Comments

Will this be another highway project, this time with a serious and unreservedly negative impact on T service, that the T has to partially pay for?

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Pay off all MBTA debt AND take away the 1% of all MA sales tax, which was given to the MBTA to help it pay for its newly acquired debt, or keep the status quo. What option would you take?

Hint. The sales tax provides over $1.3B(!) a year in funding

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Sales taxes are a reactionary taxes which generate most of their revenue from and have the biggest impact on the poorest people. Sales taxes are also highly impacted by economic recessions etc. I do not think sales taxes should be the model to fund transit, we should be taxing the rich to do so not the poor. I would also be more than fine with a congestion tax funding the T. Both of those wouldn’t be punishing the very people who rely on the T to fund it and would make a lot more sense.

Regardless there is no reason this has to be the bargain, it’s a devils bargain. To the question “Accept highway debt or lose one of your only sources of direct funding?” The answer is no. The T shouldn’t be forced into debt to pay for highway projects and it should have more not fewer sources of direct funding. These are political choices and we can make better ones. I am not holding our hope that our current leaders will though.

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The millionaires tax went into effect this year. You want to tax us more?!

I pay roughly 40% in taxes on income. I’m bet you feel like that’s not enough though.

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"riders instead asked to walk above ground between these stations – Government Center, Haymarket, and North Station"

Since there's no mention of an Orange Line option, my take from this statement is that Orange Line service in that area will be suspended as well.

Coming from, say, the Red Line, their instructions imply that riders should take the Red Line to Park Street, Green Line to Government Center, walk to North Station, then reboard Green Line to Lechmere and beyond.

If the Orange Line is operating, it would be much easier to take the Red Line to Downtown Crossing, Orange Line to North Station, then Green Line to Lechmere, etc. But according to this press release, that option doesn't seem to be available.

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From the T's website (Adam you may want to link above):

Due to the continued demolition of the Government Center Garage by private developer HYM Construction, Orange and Green Line service changes will take place in the downtown Boston area all day for 12 days from July 29- August 9:

Orange Line trains will bypass Haymarket Station. Orange Line riders should instead exit at North Station or State, which are less than a half-mile from Haymarket (or a four- to eight-minute walk) and travel to the Haymarket area.

Italics mine: there's a real question in whether the T is asking HYM for any payment for all of this inconvenience.

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So T riders suffer for a highway project, and the T won't even provide a shuttle bus? I suspect that the inconvenience to McGrath drivers will be far less.

Also, it should be noted that when the Green Line is "suspended" between North Station and Govt Ctr, the way the T operates service to Somerville is pathetic. Typically it means a train to Medford/Tufts every 20-25 minutes, and, going into North Station, they make each train wait at Science Park until the train ahead slowly backs out of the single platform being used at North Station. It recently took me 1 hour to go from Gilman Square to North Station.

Last weekend, with a full closure of Somerville service, they cheaped out on buses and ran one shuttle that served the Medford Branch and then doubled back into Union Square. Maybe that sets the precedent for providing zero shuttles in this upcoming shutdown.

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Yeah, the service sucks because of the single-track at North Station. There's not much they can do about that since North Station was never designed to be a southbound terminal (Brattle Loop at Govy serves as a southbound terminal if needed, but HYM put an end to that). Using the North Station loop requires a train to come down the ramp from Science Park, cross over the turn back tracks under the Garden and then proceed onto the single track in use at North Station. (You can see the track layout well here or here if you zoom in.)

So why doesn't this work? Lots of reasons.

North Station is bilevel, which is good for Green-Orange transfers but means that it's mostly infeasible to use both tracks as a terminal. Even if the T decided to say "Union cars on the lower level, Medford cars on the upper level" that introduces two new problems. First, it means that anyone going to Science Park or Lechmere has to run between levels to figure out which train is next. This is possible if you're crossing between two tracks on the same level, harder with two levels. Second, it would mean that all trains would have to cross over the terminal tracks, with many more moving parts (switches) which would have to be changed and require slower operations in both directions which might not even make the terminal operations that much faster.

So, you're stuck with one track. What the T does is to operate a "token" system: in order to be on the single track the driver of the train needs to be in possession of a physical object, this eliminates any potential miscommunication which could lead to two trains in opposite directions on the same track (the railroad is not signaled for bidirectional operation). Token systems are simple and work, but there are a couple of ways that the T could enhance the existing token system to make it work better.

1) The current token is passed back and forth at Science Park, although the single track section begins in the tunnel south of Science Park. If the token were passed back and forth in the tunnel, it could reduce the length of the single track section and allow more frequent operation. However, walking the token across multiple tracks here might negate any such savings.

2) The token could be used for multiple trains to follow each other together. Basically, if Union and Medford trains were scheduled to arrive at Science Park together, they could proceed following each other to North Station, both turn, and then run back to their origins. While this would increase service on the branches, it wouldn't increase service on the trunk (to Lechmere) and might actually degrade service since trains would have to wait at Science Park for the following train, and since turnaround times would increase with two separate cars.

Staff has found that anything more than 20 minutes on each line is hard to manage, especially since there are still upstream speed restrictions on the brand new line because … who knows?

Basically, there is no good solution given where the issue occurred. It would have been nice to have designed Lechmere with a stub terminal track to allow one line to operate a short turn operation there, a small oversight in retrospect (the additional cost would have been minimal). In the future if, say, the T is shutting the Green Line central tunnel (like it is Jul 15-16), the northern branches will be able to operate to the Brattle Loop at Govy.

One small silver of a silver lining: they should (hopefully will) be able to operate the Medford branch every 10 minutes when the Union Square branch is shut down, so Science Park and Lechmere will see the same level of service, and the rest of the Medford Branch will see double the existing (crappy) service.

The real question for me is what they do once Haymarket is open but Union is closed. Will they turn Union trains at North Station? Or will they extend Union trains to Medford, which would double service on the Medford branch. That, in my opinion, would be decent mitigation for an otherwise lousy situation (and since East Somerville is only about a 10 minute walk from Union). This of course begs a bigger question which is: how much could they have saved on the project if it was just built as a single line to Medford without all of the flyovers past Lechmere?

There's an interesting counterfactual where they simplify the project to be a single line, add Commuter Rail platforms and some kind of turnaround at Union, and run a shuttle from Union to North Station with a new stop behind Cambridge Crossing (perhaps with a connection to Community College). Maybe sweeten the deal and extend such a shuttle out to Alewife with a stop at Porter. Way less concrete, way fewer switches, and pretty similar service. One big issue would actually have been dealing with bridge openings in the summer to get to North Station. But … that didn't happen.

tl;dr yeah this mostly sucks sorry Adam for eating up your bandwidth.

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Turning some trains at Lechmere wouldn’t help, except for anyone whose destination is Lechmere. Anyone else would have to transfer to the same crappy service to North Station.

They could have made the Haymarket tower developers pay for bidirectional signals, fixing the token stupidity. The downside is that would probably require significant shutdowns of its own.

If we’re talking about improving the Commuter Rail as an alternative to GLX, that would have been a good idea. For both branches. Especially if subway trains were allowed to mix with mainline trains. For almost zero construction cost, we could have a Riverside-style service, with frequent trains on a railroad line, ducking into the existing subway tunnel downtown. They do this all over the place in Europe. It would require waivers to federal regulations, but it sounds like the feds have been open to this for some projects out west.

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Informative post.

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At this point why even bother attempting to run service? And of course this is all being done during other transportation related projects. I get in new england we have two seasons.. winter and (road) construction. But sheesh. Talk about crippling an area.

I begged my boss to let me switch to days because there was a shift opening. When there's all sorts of delays/shutdowns, service after 10pm is absolutely a joke (if it isn't already). A normal 45m trip can quickly turn into an hour and a half if you miss one connection or its late. At that point, I might as well just walk home to Chelsea from Sullivan Square (area). Google says it'll take an hour and 20 if I use 16. Less if I cut thru the produce market area.

Not that switching to days will be much better, but I might just start walking home to avoid the BS and get some exercise.

After living here for 25 years without a car and being completely dependent on the T, I am seriously considering buying a car by the end of the summer. Its just that bad. Its hard to continue to justify not having one when a commute takes 1hr+ each way everyday, for a trip that is ~12m door to door by car. Shameless. I've had long commutes before but like.. I was going to Watertown or Belmont or Quincy. Not f'ing Somerville.. a town one town away.

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...I thought it was pretty galling to say they're replacing a "rapid transit" line with two bus routes that often run on 30 to 45 minute headways (or worse), but then I realized on today's MBTA that might not be a whole lot of a difference. Some days the 30 minute bus route is probably more frequent.

The 86 could be a truly useful route, but god knows the T will never run it often enough. I don't use it often, but pretty much every time it feels like a case of the 2:1 ratio going the bad way - two minutes of waiting for every minute of actual travel.

The state of things has us welcoming a move to the far hinterlands (beyond the Edge of Civilization, or 495) because for one of us, it'll substitute a sometimes one hour bus commute (of about 4 miles) for a one hour commuter rail commute (of about 30 miles). Commuter rail is hardly perfect, but it's looking better and better every day by comparison.

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That bridge is an overbuilt, underused relic in its current form. Hope they give it a haircut.

For the actual problem, I’m wondering why there isn’t some sort of metal crap-catching cage a company could put between the T power lines and the bridge for every project like this. Haymarket comes to mind also.
Perhaps something could be added that would allow T users NOT to be crippled for months at a time by every low bid road project.

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Wasn’t he SO BRAVE for not saying a word when asked for comment on Trump’s outrage du jour?

Didn’t he do a SUPER JOB administering the MBTA?

Don’t you also think BLINK 182’s best work was in 2010?

Sat in a brand new orange like car stuck between Malden Center in Wellington because none of its doors will close.

They’d put me on trial at The Hague

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Outright rejected him. He did support his friend Chris Christie and when CC later joined the Trump administration local hysterics tried to claim that meant Baker was a Trump supporter. (Ipso facto!)

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Why can't they just de-energize the catenary right under the bridge and connect the two sides with a temporary insulated wire that's off to the side somewhere? Green Line trains are longer than the bridge is wide, so I'd think it would still work out that one collector on the train would always be in contact with the overhead on one side of the bridge or the other. Am I missing something?

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Closed because of a highway and a parking garage; investing in car infrastructure continues to harm everyone in the region.

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