Monday, May 04, 2015

Charles River: Green Line A Rapid Transit for Olympics — Harvard Square

Charles River: Green Line A Rapid Transit for Olympics — Harvard Square

1. Introduction.
2. General Analysis.
3. Harvard Station connection — Platform alternatives.
a. General.
b. Station S1 at the existing Harvard Station passenger area.
c. Station S2, next to the lower busway.
d. Station S3, under Eliot Street.
4. Harvard Station connection — Actual route alternatives.
a. Route 1, through JFK Park with general comments.
b. Route 2, through JFK Park with a sixth Green Line A Station, with general comments.
c. Route 3, under Eliot and JFK Streets, without or without a sixth Green Line A station.
d. Routes 4 and 5.  Deep bore under the JFK School with or without the sixth Green Line A station.
5. Conclusion.

1. Introduction.

This is the third report in a series on possible Rapid Transit support for the Boston 2024 Olympics, to help the Boston Allston neighborhood, and to receive repairs to  Charles River damage inflicted by Cambridge, MA and its friends.

The two prior reports are posted at:

General analysis:

BU Bridge end of Green Line A:

2. General Analysis.

Here is a map of the future home of Harvard Medical School, sometime in the 21st Century, maybe.  A former rail yard has been moved to Worcester, leaving most of the site empty.  The site is larger than Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.  Superimposed on the plan is a proposed Green Line A spur to grant access to the area.

The site is located to the east of Cambridge Street in Boston’s Allston Neighborhood, with residential and industrial uses on the southern end and Harvard’s ongoing expansion on the northern end.  It is south of (below) the Charles River and Soldiers Field Road.  To the east of the location (right) on its south is a residential part of the Allston neighborhood and, on its north, the western end of the Boston University campus.  The site’s southern end is close to the Allston Village shopping area.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is in the process of greatly decreasing the land occupied by I90 / Massachusetts Turnpike’s exit to Cambridge and the Allston neighborhood of Boston.

There are a number of planned locations for Olympics activities near this site, as analyzed in the second report.  The turnpike rearrangement will be done with plenty of time to use this area for the Olympics.

There are major plans for South Boston / Dorchester in areas which are currently in use, and the people using those areas do not want to lose their property.

This area in Allston is empty, massive and will be ready for use in time to prepare for the Olympics.  The Mass. Pike rearrangement gives vehicular access.  Parking structures could be constructed which would be underutilized until Harvard decides to go forward with its Medical School relocation.  Housing could be constructed at the bottom, narrow point of the triangle which could be used for rentals until Harvard is ready to use it. The very clear and major benefit to Harvard gives Harvard incentive, to subsidize the effort financially.

Cambridge influenced “activists” are yelling anti-environment at the Olympics.  The reality is that  the Olympics folks want to undo part of the outrages inflicted on the Charles River by Cambridge and its friends.  Environmental improvements are commonly called exactly the opposite of reality by Cambridge controlled folks.

The Olympics people sound friendly to me so far and I can common cause in undoing much more of Cambridge / friends destructive ideas.  In particular, I would want to help their destruction of Cambridge’s outrage at the Magazine Beach playing fields.

The Olympics folks need public transportation.  A new Green Line spur running from the Green Line at the BU Bridge area in Boston through their planned sites and Harvard’s Planned Medical School and then to the Red Line at Harvard would be ideal for their needs, as shown on the map.  The general analysis is linked above.  The analysis of the BU Bridge area, which benefits the Charles River White Geese and other residents of the Charles River is in the second link.

Below is a detailed plan with maps on how to make the connection to Harvard Station.  I will follow up with relevant photographs.  The analysis is based on a Cambridge map of the area.

3. Harvard Station connection — Platform alternatives.

a. General.

Here is a map of the area approaching Harvard Station.

The key to the connection is a tunnel which runs from Harvard Station most of the way to the Charles River.  This tunnel was used for 70 years or so to give access from the then terminus of the Red Line at Harvard Square to a former Red Line yard which was located near the river.

There is now no physical impediment whatsoever to using that tunnel.  You just need to connect to it from the Boston side and make rearrangements in Harvard Station which are less than massive, and definitely much less massive than the Harvard proposal for public transportation to their future Medical School location.

The broken line in the map represents the existing tunnel.  It is two stories below ground.  Location is approximate.

The tunnel ends slightly to the left and down of the line which is visible.  Before Harvard constructed the building between the tunnel and Eliot Street, the tunnel was visible in the wall supporting a pathway connecting Eliot Street to the JFK Park, two stories above the tunnel.

On the upper right is a black marked island bearing the letter T.  This is Harvard Square.  The T mark is the area housing the Harvard Station complex, including stairs, escalators and an elevator to the street two floors above the pedestrian plaza of Harvard Station.

I have marked “S1" next to the station plaza.  This is an ideal location for the Harvard Station terminus of a Green Line A.  Going to the left, there are “S2" and “S3" markings for two alternate locations, all two stories below ground.

b. Station S1 at the existing Harvard Station passenger area.

Roughly at the point of the “T” are two stories of stairs and escalators.  The access starts at ground level on the left.  They move to the right to a mezzanine, reverse direction and end two stories below the point where they started.

Looking down on the map, below/south, you see on the station level a Dunkin Donuts strip line shop.  That shoo is between the public area and the tunnel.  All that is necessary for access to the tunnel is to move the coffee shop closer to the stairs and further to the left, so that people can access the tunnel by going around the shop and waiting for the trains behind the shop.  A bank of telephones could easily be moved to the other side of the stairs / escalators, and the wall can be removed as far over as is needed for access.

The standard MBTA fare machines can be constructed in a line at the beginning of the Coffee Shop with appropriate barriers.

The one part of the rearrangement that requires work is the elevator for handicapped access.  That elevator would have to be moved to the north side of the mezzanine.  The elevator could, on relocation, grant direct access to the area on the far side of the stairs / escalators and could also grant access to the mezzanine which is now not possible for the handicapped.  Moving the donut shop to the mezzanine could be an ideal rearrangement.  The mezzanine was designed for sale of passes at that location.  Other relatively small uses could remain on the mezzanine or be moved do to the passenger plaza on the far side of the stairs near the relocated elevator, among other possibilities.

This arrangement is a prime location for the Green Line A terminus.  The big defects is moving the elevator.

c. Station S2, next to the lower busway.

There is a two level busway above the tunnel as you look at the map.  The two run parallel in the block between the two streets (Palmer and Brattle) to the left of the T station.  Two alternate station locations “S2" and “S3" are left and right of the second street, Brattle Street.  The first block from the T location is part of Brattle Street.

All that separates the Green Line A tunnel and the LOWER of the two busways is a non load supporting wall.  After Brattle Street side street, the bus tunnels run under the building above the S3 marking and connect to the next street, Mt. Auburn Street.

There is an elevator from the ground level to the UPPER of the two busways next to Brattle Street.  It is located just to the right of the Brattle Street side street.

All that is necessary to create a Green Line Terminus next to the EXISTING platform of the LOWER of the two busways is to tear down the non load supporting wall.  The problem with this location is the interaction with the busway and the busstops.

It would be necessary to move the existing bus stops to the right, in order to close off an area at the Station S2 platform for fare machine access..  The bus stops currently occupy more horizontal space than do comparable bus waiting facilities.  Moving the bus stops would probably be feasible.  It would make the operation tighter, but not at all unusual.  A wall / open fence could be created separating the busway from the waiting area for Green Line A.

An existing stair from the Brattle Street and its side street grants access to the busways.  Through the upper busway, it connects to the main station and the Red Line.  This stair would provide direct access to station S2.  Foot traffic to the lower busway currently uses that staircase. Continued access to the lower buswaywould be no big thing.  Just go down the ramp from the upper busway, and you are at the lower busway.  Given the need to move the bus stops, access would be very close to identical to the current situation.

The only defect in station S2 is the need to crowd the bus stations.  Plus, it is further from the rest of the operation that in station S1.  I think that station S2 is the best possible of the three locations.  Its access from the main station complex is pretty much identical to the Red Line access.

There is a very big advantage in the removal of the need to rearrange the main part of the station by moving the elevator.

Station S2 is definitely feasible.

d. Station S3, under Eliot Street.

Station S3 would involve constructing the Green Line A platform two stories down under Elliot Street between the existing building and the triangular piece of open space.

Underground access would be simple.  Just tear down part of the non load supporting wall between the Green Line A tunnel and the lower busway passenger waiting area, and turn the existing tunnel into pedestrian access.  The Green Line A tunnel end would end at Station S3's end, at the pedestrian access on left side of the Brattle Street side street.

Ground access would be constructed from the triangular open space or the large sidewalk below / south of it, along with a handicapped elevator.

Station S3 would be easy for construction of the usual toll control.

The disadvantages to Station S3 are that it is the furthest from the main station, and that it would involve very real construction with related surface damage and interference during construction.

Waiting space would have to be to the right of the tunnel because the tunnel is right next to the building.

4. Harvard Station connection — Actual route alternatives.

I will take these one by one.  Route 1 is the preferred but there are advantages to the other routes.

We will start with Map B showing Routes 1 and 2.

a. Route 1, through JFK Park with general comments.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Park seems to have been designed with this route in mind.

There would be NO DESTRUCTION OF TREES on the Cambridge side and any destruction on the Boston / Allston side would be of very young trees if at all.

This would be a matter of digging up under the pathway to JFK park from Eliot Street.  Then connect the existing tunnel to a new tunnel going south.

Construction under the path could only hold one track.  Construction could be accomplished north / above the path under Eliot and Brattle Streets, creating double trackage to but not including Station S1, for a lesser distance to the other station alternatives.

Double tracking the terminus at Station S2 probably would not be possible.  It would require a platform between the two tracks.  There is not enough room down there for the busway with its existing waiting area, two tracks and an additional area between the tracks for the new platform.

Station S3 would definitely allow that sort of track doubling, and would allow loading / unloading on alternate tracks in the manner which is currently done at Alewife Station on the Red Line.  This capability is a very major advantage to the Station S3 location.

Cut and cover construction to cross the Charles River would involve damming off the Charles River first to one side and building and then to the other side and building.  The connection to North Harvard Street would be at the northeast corner of the Harvard Stadium complex.  If it is needed to go near the nearest building, that is where young trees would be destroyed.  Then under North Harvard Street and proceed to Harvard Stadium / Harvard Business School stop located wherever convenient.  Harvard’s current athletic facilities south of Harvard Business School should have vehicle storage located under it, and would be ideal for deep bore staging during construction.

The time factor for cut and cover construction under the Charles River probably would prevent opening in time for the Olympics.

Additionally , getting under Soldiers Field Road at this point could be dicy with cut and cover.  The practical way to do this would be digging very deep to go under.

The minute you are digging very deep to get under Soldiers Field Road, you might as well do the entire construction very deep using “deep bore” construction.

In alternative 1, deep bore would start almost immediately upon contact with the existing Green Line A tunnel under the pathway, and go down, with work access from the very large existing treeless part of the JFK Park.

The exact Harvard Stadium / Business School Station location would be determined taking in mind the slope calculation of the Green Line A tunnel.

The Green Line A route would be double track until you arrive at the existing pathway area between the Charles Hotel and the JFK School.  At that point, under JFK park space, trains would wait for trains ahead of them to unload / load.  Plus space should be left under JFK Park for some storage. Larger storage should be constructede under the Harvard athletic facilities south of Harvard Business School.  Additional layover would be constructed by cut and cover under Eliot Street (which goes as far north as the Brattle Street turn).

Trains would wait in the layover spots for trains to unload and load in the station if the station is a one track stub, or if there is a backup problem.

b. Route 2, through JFK Park with a sixth Green Line A Station, with general comments.

There is a very large intersection at JFK Street / the Anderson Bridge and Memorial Drive.  This could hold a sixth station giving access to JFK Park, south Harvard Square, and to this part of Harvard University, plus to Charles River uses.

Route 2 would connect to the existing tunnel as would Route 1, and then go cut and cover or deep bore to the new JFK Station.  From there cut and cover could be done on either side of the Anderson Bridge, or deep bore under the Anderson Bridge.

Cut and cover would involve tree destruction.  Deep bore would minimize or eliminate it.

c. Route 3, under Eliot and JFK Streets, without or without a sixth Green Line A station.

Route 3 would connect to the existing tunnel under Eliot Street, then turn with Eliot Street, and turn into JFK Street, to the Anderson Bridge area.

It would definitely be possible to do cut and cover along this route, with the three alternative Charles River crossings previously discussed.  This route would allow double tracks up to or including the stations as mentioned above.  Because of the double track possibility, and all other things equal, this route would be preferable to routes 2 and 1.  Construction would clearly be highly disruptive and expensive, obviously a disadvantage.

Construction could be moved to deep bore pretty rapidly if deep bore for routes 4 and 5 is not possible because you cannot get under the JFK School fast enough.

This route allows for but does not require the sixth new rapid transit station under the very large intersection at Memorial Drive and JFK Street, which could be used for access to this part of Harvard, of Harvard Square, and to JFK Park.

d. Routes 4 and 5.  Deep bore under the JFK School with or without the sixth Green Line A station.

Deep bore under the Kennedy School of Government, either to the sixth station or separate from it.  The tunnel starts two stories below ground at the existing tunnel.  Construction would proceed under Eliot Street to the JFK School building next to the connecting path.  The new tunnel would have to be far enough down to minimize impact on the JFK School.

Double tracks would be possible all the way to the Harvard Statoin station alternatives.  Station S3 would probably prevent getting deep enough to go under the JFK School.

5. Conclusion.

I would think that Station S2 with layover under Eliot Street and deep bore route 1 would be the preferred alternative.  It is the least disruptive and probably the least expensive alternative.  Eliot Street layover would be needed for the deep bore construction route, and probably would be preferred, in addition to JFK Park layover for the cut and cover alternative.

This analysis replaces portions of my earlier analysis.  I have thought things over more deeply.

Photos of existing conditions will follow.