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State pushes back estimated re-opening of closed Hyde Park bridge

MassDOT said this week that it's now looking at, maybe, the end of 2024 to re-open the River Street Bridge in Cleary Square to cars and trucks. The state had originally set a target of roughly right now to re-open the bridge it shut in May, 2022 as unsafe.

MassDOT says the issue is that its contractors only have, at most, 90 minutes a night in which to repair the bridge - and only then if Amtrak can assign workers to "de-energize" the 25,000-volt lines that power the nation's only almost-high-speed rail service and which are attached to the bottom of the bridge's span:

Amtrak’s level of safety for work performed along their right-of-way requires mobilizing specialized Amtrak electrical workers to the site to safely de-energize and the Amtrak flagger confirming that the bridge repair contractor is clear to begin their work. On the back end, time is needed for demobilizing the contractor from the site, and then re-energizing the catenary. When these required safety operations are factored in, this means that the effective time at the site is only 1.5 hours out of every 24. ...

MassDOT continues to communicate with Amtrak and other stakeholder groups to find any additional opportunities to maximize construction hours and operations where possible. We appreciate your continued patience as we work to get the River Street Bridge reopened and ultimately replaced.

The repairs are considered temporary, long enough to let the bridge re-open to traffic while a more permanent bridge is built off site and then hauled in for installation.

The River Street Bridge has remained open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Motorists, however, have had to take detours on either side of the bridge; causing even more than usual congestion along West Street and Hyde Park Avenue, even with detail cops to direct traffic at rush hour.



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What we need to understand here is that the entire project delay is solely in the lap of Amtrak. Neither MassDOT or MBTA have anything to do with the construction delays.

The original plan was to create a temporary pedestrian bridge that would also carry gas and water lines currently on the bridge, demolish it, and roll into place the new structure. Amtrak refused to cooperate and did not care whether the bridge collapsed or not. This forced the state to come up with a temporary plan to bolster the bridge and extend the construction period... and of course the cost.

During the build out of the Southwest Corridor Project which depressed Amtrak, MBTA Commuter trains, and the Orange line, into a multi-mile trench through Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, two tracks were installed connecting the main line railroad from a point between the Rt 128 Station in Westwood and Readville Station, to bypass the main line and connect all train traffic to the Fairmount line into Boston. All rail traffic was re-routed there for several years while the new trench right-of-way project was built out. Some branches, such as the Needham branch were discontinued during that project. The rest were able to run the Fairmount line and continue including all Franklin trains, Providence-Stoughton trains, and all of Amtrak.

Of course this was before the line was electrified.

There remains a single track that is still connected today and while it may need some repair work, that and other tracks that serve the CSX freight lay over area in Readville are still in use.

Amtrak could, if they had the will to cooperate, tack-on a diesel locomotive to pull their electric trains the last leg into Boston via the Fairmount branch. The front cowl bumper of Acela trains folds back to accommodate coupling, and the Amtrak Regionals would be an easy add-on. This add-on could be accomplished in Providence. This could be arranged for weekends to allow the local construction crews around the clock access to speed up the process. All Franklin, Providence-Stoughton, and Amtrak would run to Boston that way as they did in the past.

Stations impacted by the weekend closure would be Hyde Park, Forest Hills (does not impact the Needham branch) Ruggles, and Back Bay.

Hyde Park could see additional free service on the #32 bus connecting to the Orange Line. Forest Hills has the Orange line which connects Ruggles and Back Bay.

Worth noting here that experimental efforts to try running the MBTA with an electric locomotive from Boston to Providence were impacted by a resistance from Amtrak to sell the electric power to the MBTA at a reasonable price. That project was tabled.

This is all about Amtrak's selfishness toward working with the local transit authority and making sure their alleged high-speed trains get through. They would prefer to allow the bridge to rot in place and then blame us for not doing anything, when in fact they remain the major obstacle to any progress on this. The original state accelerated plan was rejected by them. Had that happened we'd be talking about a new bridge opening by now.

So before we start blaming a swath of governors back to Leverett Saltonstall we need to understand who the real villain is here.

Voting closed 45

It's Magoo's fault.

Voting closed 26

It doesn't even need to involve coupling Acela to diesel or affecting most of the Amtrak & CR schedules.

Work 11 pm - 4 am.
That affects three Amtraks, all regionals. They could easily be switched to/from diesel at some convenient point for the Fairmount branch.
CR can run their last couple of runs of the night on Fairmount for points south & west of Readville, and a shuttle train for the points north of Readville.

Clear the work zone at ~4 am, ready for normal service before first morning trains.

Voting closed 24

When you think about it, the Acela trains are not even that fast, except in Mansfield and Rhode Island. Other than those places, the trains run about 120-125mph max (except between New Rochelle and New Haven, where the max is 90mph).

It explains why the MBTA will not have electrified trains any time soon - Amtrak would probably charge an arm, a leg and two small children for the power. But you're 100% right - this problem of Amtrak's obstinance towards improvements is a desire for monopoly in that area, even for mediocre train speed.

Voting closed 14

Has work even started?

This bridge would have been reopened in months if Menino was mayor.

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Don't take my word, though, drive down to Cleary Square, park behind the post office and take a look for yourself.

Voting closed 22

The state is a disgrace. No where else would this be acceptable to a neighborhood. Outrageous. Where is Consalvo? Crickets.

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But most state agencies in MASS don't operate on a results based metric.

This is why healthcare as well as the MBTA and BPS are teetering on the brink of failing sadly.

Voting closed 22

what exactly can the state do about it?

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what exactly can the state do about it?

USPS Fort Point Post Office at Dorchester Avenue and South Station has entered the chat...

translation: We're federal (and sometimes autonomous (for all practical purposes)). You can't make us do a **** thing if we don't wanna.

Voting closed 12

Announcement of the same... "no, we didn't mean May of 2024 was the completion date and the admin who typed up that memo has been reprimanded and reassigned."

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