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MBTA approves contruction of new Mattapan station on the Fairmount Line

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board voted today to hire a construction company to build a $17-million station for the Fairmount Line between Blue Hill Avenue and Cummins Highway, about a quarter mile outside Mattapan Square.

The station will give riders an alternative to the Mattapan High-Speed Line and the Red Line for getting downtown - the T promises 20-minute service on the Fairmount Line at subway prices, if not subway frequency, once the station is complete in 2019.

The bid, by McCourt Construction Co., came in some $9 million less than the amount the T had originally budgeted for the new station.

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I really hope it doesn't stand as an excuse for the T to rid itself of the trolley, which has been running like a top recently.

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Spinning around in circles and falling over?

Sounds like the MBTA all right.

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Continue to get F*$*ed.

"The T promises 20-minute service on the Fairmount Line at subway prices.

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Consistently blocked and discouraged any attempts to expand rapid transit into WR. An extension or even just frequent service on the Needham Line like the current Fairmont at subway zone1A prices would still be fought.

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WR never had to fight anything - they ran out of funding when redoing the El long before it ever came to that. Also, no one is fighting more service on the Needham Line - as far as I know, people were unhappy when weekend service ended, and welcomed it back when it was reinstated. Also, its not people fighting more frequent CR service - due to the constraints of the NEC it is impossible to run anymore Needham trains. Lastly, people would welcome with open arms to pay only $80 for a monthly instead of the current $201. But, like at Hyde Park, the MBTA will never lower its price for 1A. The subway/1A fair at Fairmont was a special program to attempt to drive up ridership on the line.

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The ship sailed in the 1960s. If there were community support at that time, it would have been done. No support, no funding, no Orange Line to West Roxbury.

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I mean, it wasn't even an option at the time as there wasn't any funding for it (and already had active CR service) - there really wasn't anything to fight for. I am also not saying if there was an actual proposal for it that Westie wouldn't have fought against it (like towns north and the Red Line extension), but I don't see how you could say if they fought for it it would have happened. Just look at how hard Dudley and the South End fought, and what did they end up with? A glorified bus. Look at the GLX and how hard Somerville and Cambridge have fought for it. Look at the restoration of the E Line - although admittedly there were both groups for and against that - but they fought for it and it was even a legal requirement of the Big Dig remediation.

The ship hasn't sailed, either. Its a good extension that will probably happen in 10-15 years. A first one off extension to Rozzie Square is almost a no brainer at this point given the insane traffic down Washington St to Forest Hills.

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Sorry if the facts don't dovetail with your narrative, but much like the Red Line to Lexington, the Orange Line extension to Dedham via West Roxbury was proposed in the late 1940s.

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You mean the BERy map and plans?

There was no official study, there was no real proposal, there was no community meetings - unlike the extension to Lexington via Arlignton (that was fought tooth and nail against). BERy didn't have the money to build it, nor did the MBTA back in the 80s when they rerouted to the Southwest Corridor. There were always plans to do it, but, like I said: no funding. Thus there was no chance for Westie to fight it ala Lexington. Love the revisionist history though.

edit: fix my link to the BERy map.

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I'll even second back up your claim with pictures. I took these photos like seconds ago.

This map is from 1945 which shows planned extensions by the Metropolitan Transit Recess Comission and BERy. Reprints of this map is cam be purchased at Ward Maps in Cambridge (Link to asset on their website), which is where I got mine.

Here's the extension to Needham: (Full Photo)

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/461/32454146086_c60dfb5f0e.jpg)

Here's the extension to Arlington (sorry Waquiot, it is Arlington, not Lexington) (Full Photo)

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/773/32454150596_53efff74df.jpg)

And the stamp from the map from 1945 for proof (Full Photo)

IMAGE(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/551/31683236443_6e8eb2cb44.jpg)

Sorry folks, I love bringing this up each time we talk about "what could have been" because I just have to turn around to prove people wrong since it hangs in my office right behind me! :-D

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Sure but the discussion is not whether it was on the big master plan, it's whether Westie fought against a firm proposal that was actually happening. There's still some of that stuff on the current MBTA master plan that's realistically never happening and nobody is talking about it, let alone fighting it.

It's probably for the best the process to put in hard plans never happened, though, because Westie probably WOULD have fought it and then we'd have documented history of NIMBY asswipes on record against doing it now.

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I have no idea what is even being argued at this point, but that summed up my point nicely.

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Are they hanging in your office in some sort of official capacity, or did you order these somewhere? These would make amazing additions to my office, too. I've seen low-res versions in the BPL archives, but it looks like you've got poster-sized ones--can you point me to where I can find them?

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They are reprints from Ward Maps. See the "link to asset" above. But here ya go

http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=19423

This was a gift actually from my roommate for Christmas a few years ago. My only regret is that it was ordered on canvas and its the 'un-restored' copy (so has that off color to the background). Which I see now they only offer it on "un-restored" on Art Paper now. (they used to offer a restored copy so it was clean and white)

I'd go into their store at 1735 Mass Ave in Cambridge (between Harvard and Porter), if you can, to see if Steven offers a restored copy (or will print one for you). Don't get the canvas if you can help it.. it takes away some of the detail (if you zoom in on my photos). Plus the store is cool anyways, lots of other maps (not just T related)... I have several others from his store on my walls.

Its a great map.. very detailed and kind of "what could have been" if they actual did it But eventually they ended up building almost all of what was displayed on this map. (minus some variations to what was actually built.. i.e. Alewife Extension and Ext to Lynn)

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As to the fall of the proposal, here is a quote from an article which appeared in the Boston Globe on December 22, 1974, page A-4

but the extension through West Roxbury and Needham has provoked more discussion, as these more suburban communities have shown a fear of mass transit's impact and a strong preference for commuter rail.

And that's when the plan was shelved in favor of the status quo, bgl.

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Apparently I fubar'd the link to the BERy map. I also have that hanging at my house (from Ward Maps) like you Cybah :) My argument isn't that the plan hasn't existed to extend the OL out there, but that:

"West Roxburites Consistently blocked and discouraged any attempts to expand rapid transit into WR."

from the original post I replied to, and the later:

"The ship sailed in the 1960s. If there were community support at that time, it would have been done. "

BERy didn't have the money to build it just like all of the other extensions that didn't get built until the MBTA years. Yes, NIMBYs existed and didn't want it, but its not the Red Line going north - and, yes, I have already said if they tried to build it I am sure they would have fought it tooth and nail. But, they ran out of funding for it before any of this could happen at the one time when it might have been done - when the El was transferred to the Southwest Corridor, so it was a moot point. (Lack of) Funding killed the extension, unlike say Lexington. It is also pretty odd to say that the ship has sailed on it, when it is pretty obvious that it will eventually happen.

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Heck, I even screwed up the time period, but sure enough, in 1973 the people of West Roxbury did what they do best. This was early in my time, but I do remember reading in the Transcript in the early 1980s there was a plan to convert the rail line to a busway. Just think about the frequency and number of buses they could have diverted from Washington Street. If only.

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They're building new housing right next to the new station. That's right, you can be living it large. Adam even wrote about it.

It was good having you as a neighbor, but hey, if you want to ride the commuter rail and not pay too much, this seems to be the best option for you.

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I mean, sure - but Rozzie and Westie are still some of the only neighborhoods of the City of Boston that don't have some level of actual rapid transit. Extending the Orange Line wouldn't be a terrible thing (and was part of the original plan of the new alignment).

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First shot is fired in the battle to get rid of the Mattapan-Ashmont line.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Charlie Faker has been trying to poop can the Mattapan Line for a while.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/savethemattapanline/

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I know the group, John. I'm a member. But this is the first alternate transportation approval for the area, unless I've missed something.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Agree 100%, but hope you're wrong. The trolley is hands down the most reliable part of my commute from Milton to South Station.

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It's ridiculous that they'd even think that. If I need to get from Roslindale to Dorchester, why would I go all the way up to DTX?

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Really? Two years to build some platforms, stairwells, prefab shelters and some noise abatement? Really?

Are we now building artisanal stations using only locally sourced ingredients? What are they going to call the station, Blue Hipster Avenue?

While you are waiting for the GLX to be done, if at all, please look at the following story of the $833 per square foot building that no one, save for some office workers for the DCR, who could have leased space nearby, will use. This building seemingly has been under construction since 2012.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2017/01/19/finally-new-...

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Someday, John, we'll disagree on something. Not today, though.

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First of all, the fact that the estimate came in as low as it did means that the T is generally bad at providing estimates. Not exactly sure why, but this number is at least in line with the costs of other Fairmount Line stations. (I wrote about this in relation to the Belmont fiasco a while back.)

Anyway, as to why this will take as long as it will. I believe the station is getting a center platform, and that the tracks are already pretty well spread apart for installing said platform. That's good, it probably saves on construction costs and the like. However, it also means that all of the work needs to take place in between two active railroad tracks. This is not building something in the middle of a field. Every supply and every piece of equipment is going to have to cross an active railroad line, and there are a lot of rules that come with that, because you don't want to foul the line more than necessary, nor do you want to have any conflict (because trains and heavy equipment both have a lot of mass, add in speed, and you might have, uh, issues). In addition, the tracks will need to be spread out somewhat to accommodate the platform, so each will have to be cut, realigned and rebuilt, and that process ain't particularly free or speedy.

Nor is this a quick pre-fab drop-in-place-and-go type of ordeal. You can't go to Home Depot and buy a pre-fab high level railroad platform. The platform will be 800 feet long (we could get in to whether the T will ever actually run 800-foot-long, 9-car trains on Fairmount, or whether they should electrify and run EMUs, but that's a different story, and 800-foot, high-level is SOP) and will be at least 20 feet wide, so that's 16,000 square feet of platform. The whole of that will need footings poured (in between said active rail lines), and then the specially-poured concrete slabs will have to be carted in and installed, again, between the active tracks. A platform of this size, just for materials, costs several million dollars. You could probably save money and go with pressure-treated wood, but that's penny-wise and pound-foolish. (Smart, and likely not done, would be installing a heating system in the concrete to obviate the need for snow clearance.) Then comes ramps and/or elevators for ADA, stairs and other vertical circulation/egress, systems, signage and the like. Again, all installed adjacent to active rail lines.

So two years ain't that bad. It's a long time coming for the Fairmount Corridor. Now if only the T would take their heads out of their behinds (it would help if the city were to push them in this direction) and actually run enough service to make the line useful to everyone who lives adjacent to it.

So, yeah, let me know how this should be done faster and cheaper than everything else that's been done in the area (it doesn't help that there's a labor shortage and pay for contractors is high). $17m is probably a very fair price for this station (a heck of a lot cheaper than some GLX stations seem to be coming in for).

tl;dr: yes, really.

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The idea of positioning the station in the middle; between the two major streets it will be accessed from; and with a single platform in the center of the tracks is brilliantly efficient.

The long, covered ramps descend so gradually to the platform level that no switchbacks are needed to make them compliant. There are no stairs or elevators needed — it's just a single ramp, directly to the train!
IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/fairmounttapanstation.png)

Now, if they'd just electrify the line for EMU trains (or employ a fleet of DMU trains) to provide frequent, reliable service, then they'd have something really nice. As pleasing as the station renderings look, there are absolutely no trains in any of the plans!

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You feeling OK Elmer?

*runs*

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 ... it doesn't mean I can't appreciate when they do something smart.

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Actually this is a terrible design. I hope the final design abandoned this.

The idea of having a single track and single platform is a disaster.

This would mean having to merge a working and functional 2-track system with switches on either side of the station. This would make this station a bottleneck and add to the current signalling system's programming.

A center platform with two tracks makes far more sense.

As noted in other threads the tracks are wide there already. This is because up through the 1960s this was an active freight car storage yard where boxcars were picked up and dropped off for customers along that line, which existed will into the 1960s at the very least.

With a 2-track system they can sho-fly (move) one fo the tracks easily and run active trains on that single track with a slight schedule modification. This would then allow the other track to be used fo construction equipment and other work. Once the platform is created then the other track can be adjusted as necessary. This is how they have been building the station at New Balance in Brighton, and how the Assembly station was built on the Orange Line.

The one-track design was meant to convince abutters that there would be less noise but there would still be trains coming and going and there would be no noise abatement what so ever.

If the T also follows-through on rebuilding a few locomotives that will have a gear ratio change to allow for quicker starts and stops, then they can improve frequency on that line. They already have locomotives in storage that could be rebuilt for that need and also have coaches in storage that could be used for a start up service of that type.

If they go with a one-track design they would need to install switches at each end of the station, re-program the signal system, etc.

If a train breaks down there the whole line would be screwed. That happened not all that long ago at Salem. Unfortunately that will be a single track station until they can re-tunnel under Washington Street, and due to nearby historic buildings that is pretty unlikely in my lifetime.

Creating an unnecessary choke point is madness.

Let's hope it will stay 2-tracks.

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A center platform with two tracks makes far more sense.

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/fairmounttapanstation.jpg)

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For someone posting under the name "In The Know" you don't seem to know very much about this. One quick glance at any of the plans or renderings would immediately show an island platform with 2 tracks.

The T is not THAT stupid.

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The T is not THAT stupid.

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I see all that glass and can't help but think of Four Corners/Talbot/Newmarket stations. The big panes of glass are a magnet for neighborhood kids and rocks. The T is constantly replacing those huge panes and they're not cheap!! Looks good and provides shelter from the elements, but so impractical.

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Are we now building artisanal stations using only locally sourced ingredients? What are they going to call the station, Blue Hipster Avenue?

Boondoggles like this are basically just a way of throwing money at local construction firms and local labor unions (rather than maintaining the shit they already built), so... yes, essentially.

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The biggest problem with the "Fairmount Corridor" and the rest of the commuter rail system is, you can't transfer to the rest of the system without a pass. Also, you can't use it with a Charlie Card. So you either have to buy a paper-ticket Zone 1A commuter pass, or pay twice to use the subways or buses to get where you actually want to go. Unless you want to go to South Station, or South Bay Mall, or the 5 other stops on that one route.

The second biggest problem is the lack of frequency. Trains that run every hour may be a suburbanite's dream, but in the areas of the Fairmount Line, commuters are used to buses and subways that usually run so frequently you don't need a timetable.

Then there are the dropped trains. It's the line with the most frequently missed schedules. Nobody is going to put up with waiting an hour for the next train...for long.

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They made the switch to the Hybrid Zone Pass/Charlie Cards well over a year ago.

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As someone who caught on to the Zone 1A Pass when they first started in '07, might I add that it was always a thicker-type card since, if nothing else, it had to make it a whole month before being replaced? The biggest issue, before converting it to a Smart Card, was getting frustrated when 3-4 subway fare gates in a row were in "Smart Cards Only" mode. Nothing more fun that having to walk perpendicular to everyone else tapping, trying to find a fare gate that would take the tickets.

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For the past 4 years, every time I run over the Cummins Highway Bridge, I stop and ponder why the station hasn't been built yet. Soon, I'll be able to watch construction (or at least see evidence of construction. The Casey replacement looks like a ghost town some days.)

My hope is that the DOT folk realize that the Mattapan High Speed Line is needed, if only for those taking buses not numbered 30 who want to get in town.

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The hold up has been that the neighbors don't want it and many still don't. They have been doing everything possible to stop it.

They have significant concerns that starting and stopping trains will blow more diesel fumes than they do now (and that is true of a starting train), and will add a threat of illegally parked cars on adjacent streets (which may also happen).

So the delay has been due to local opposition by the immediate neighbors and abutters.

There have been endless meetings on this at the Mattapan Library and a few at the conference room at the Mattapah Station MBTA police station. The reasons and meetings are well documented.

Of course is you are not following this story every day.....................

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How much bus service would $17 million cover? How many years of late-night service?

The Fairmount Line is not useful. Even though it has great frequency and low fares by T commuter rail standards, it still has very low ridership, because of where it goes (quiet low-density residential and industrial areas, rather than community focal points) and what it connects to. They should put the money into improving the services that people actually ride.

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And I'll duck for tomatoes too.

The Silver Line Gateway.. a project being built near me is going to cost 82.5 Million for a 3/4th of a mile busway with 4 BRT stations, 5 if you include upgrades to the busway at Airport Station. This also includes a shared use path.

Out of that 82.5 million, 20 million is for the commuter rail station which will be moved from its current location to behind Market Basket. The new CR station, as well as all new SLG stations, will be ADA compliant, while the current CR station is not.

The SLG will service over 9,000 daily riders. Which makes it one of the most cost effective projects to service the most riders to date.

By comparison, the Fairmont Line services 1038 riders per day (for the entire line). Yeah that's 2013 numbers, even if you doubled it wouldn't even be close to the riders on new SLG busway. Sure you could argue that many SLG passengers are coming off of other nearby services, but the same could be said for the Fairmont Line also. Even if all the passengers on the Mattapan High Speed Line (roughly ~2400 daily boardings in 2010) come over and use the Fairmont Line, that's still 3600 daily boardings for that entire line. Still far less than SLG.

Note: Sorry I cannot come up with newer figures for ridership on both lines (Mattapan, Fairmont). I'm restricted to a MBTA BlueBook from 2014 that I found online, and even that line only has data for the Mattapan line from 2010, 2013 for Fairmont line). But I don't think both lines' ridership have changed very much, especially with the issues the Fairmont Line has today. Again, even if it doubled, it's still not a match.

Sources:

http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/news_events/?id=27828
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairmount_Line
http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/documents/2014%20BLUEBOOK%2014th%20Edi...(1).pdf
https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/silverlinegateway/Home.aspx

Bottom Line, IMHO: Until they fix the Fairmont line's "issues", by either add more reliable service, convert to DMU/EMU, and/or find a way to increase ridership.. this station is a colossal waste of money. I can think of many more ways the MBTA can spend 18 Million than a CR station that really isn't really needed right now, especially when the ridership numbers are so low.

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Don't send in diesel locomotives and coaches to do a subway train's (or streetcar's) job!

Yeah, DMUs are what this line needs and it shall not be a fully efficient operation until they are placed in service. But a guy named Chuck nixed that idea because new trains of any type, you know, cost money.

My dream would be to see the Fairmount Line converted to light rail, perhaps terminating (within fare control) at Andrew. The right-of-way was originally four tracks wide; so it would certainly be feasible to have two trolley tracks with simple platforms and a single railroad track (with turnouts as needed) for MBTA Commuter Rail and CSX moves.

Ah! And surely I'm not the only one who is dying to hear how the T shall provide service on 20-minute headways when it already struggles to meet the current timetable?

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yeah, but...

Light rail would be interesting. There are non-electric modern LRVs out there (NJT River Line), and I'm sure something could be set up with a high floor configuration to match the platforms. I can't remember where, but somewhere I've also seen LRVs with adjustable floors - all high-floor for urban stops, lower one whole section of floor for suburban stops.

That being said, Fed regulations prohibit "light" and "heavy" rail from operating on the same right-of-way. If the R.O.W. was four tracks wide, you could have an isolated heavy rail track - but it's not (at least, not the whole run of the line). Even if it was, you'd need to reconfigure everything, sliding it to one side: platform, LRV track, LRV track, platform, and heavy rail track (you can't just stick the heavy rail track in between the other two because you need to be able to switch LRVs between tracks.

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="quiet low-density residential and industrial areas"

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THE fairmount line is a good back up plan but I still choose to drive everyday as plan A.....especially in the winter !

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