Friday, July 10, 2015

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit: crossing the Charles, Technical Considerations in Serving Passengers, Business School / Stadium stop.

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit: crossing the Charles, Technical Considerations in Serving Passengers, Business School / Stadium stop.

1. Introductory.
2. Basic concept, crossing the Charles River, Technical Considerations in Serving Passengers,, Business School / Stadium stop.
a. General.
b. Allowances for more than one Green Line A train at a time.
c. Cut-and-cover.
d. Alternate routes.
e. Deep Bore.
f. The neighborhood stations.
3. Prior reports on Green Line A.

1. Introductory.

This is the most recent in a series of reports on the possibility of a streetcar spur which could be commenced at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authorities Green Line B route on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, starting at a point just west of the BU Bridge.  The concept would run close to a number of possible sites for the Olympics 2024 proposal.

My inducement in this proposal is appreciation for plans of the Olympics planners which would undo at least a little of the outrage inflicted on the Charles River by Cambridge and its accomplices.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has reaffirmed my affection for MassDOT, as well, with its recent rejection, again, of Cambridge's demand for passenger service on the Grand Junction railroad through Cambridge with environmental harm to the Charles River and its animals, to air in Cambridge, and to traffic in Cambridge.

The street car spur would  run through the wasteland which contains the Brighton - Cambridge exit ramps from I90 (Mass. Pike) and which contains the remnants of an, until recently, vibrant rail yard.  This area is now owned by Harvard University with the very clear intent of moving the Harvard Medical School there sometime in the 21st Century if not later.  The area has some intended uses for the Olympics and, I should think, could contain many more.

The route would continue through the residential North Allston neighborhood past Harvard Stadium and Business School, and connect to the existing Harvard Station on the Heavy Rail Red Line rapid transit at one of three locations.

Here is my map of the concept.

I stated in my report of June 17, 2015, cited at the very end of my prior reports list below, that there are changes pending in the Harvard Station area of which I do not have the details.

In my June 17, 2015 report, I gave you a copy of my communication to MassDOT trying to determine the exact nature of the pending changes.  I must assume, given the lack of response, that the changes do not impact the Green Line A analysis.

My analysis has brought details of the preferred Green Line A in the Commonwealth Avenue end through the future Harvard Medical School area, and details at the Harvard Station end and how it would connect to the Charles River.

This report will bring the preferred alternative back to Harvard Stadium / Harvard Business School.

2. Basic concept, crossing the Charles River, Business School / Stadium stop.

a. General.

Here is a blow up of the area in question from the above map.

Here is the area of the Charles River which would have to be crossed, from the Cambridge side.

I would anticipate that construction would be accomplished at a distance below the surface through a technique called “deep bore”.  This is the technique which was used in the extension of the Red Line beyond Harvard Station in the late 70s.  Basically, you dig and dig and dig until you get to a point where you can safely proceed below the surface without disrupting the surface.

The traditional alternative, cut-and-cover, would be environmentally destructive.

JFK Park is at the northwest corner of the Memorial Drive / JFK Street / Anderson Bridge intersection.

Here is a photo of the intersection taken from the river side west of the Anderson Bridge.  The bushes and trees to the left are part of JFK Park.

Here is a view of the portion of JFK Park which would have to be used for construction associated with the Green Line.  The absence of trees in JFK Park where work would have to be done leaves me with the very strong opinion that JFK Park is designed to facilitate exactly the rapid transit construction we are discussing.

The photo is taken from the river side of Memorial Drive.  Please review my second prior report for photos of where the construction would go, demonstrating that it could be accomplished without destroying any of the excellent trees on either side of Memorial Drive.

The two structures visible are, on the left, the Charles Hotel, and, on the right, the JFK School of Government of Harvard University.

In front of the two structures can be seen hedges.  These are the edges of a plaza which would have to be dug up during work.

Between the two buildings is the pathway connecting JFK Park to Harvard Square proper.  Once again, many photos in the second prior report.

The tunnel from Harvard Station to the former Red Line rail yard in this location is still in place.  It ends about halfway between Eliot Street (on the northern end) and the JFK Park.

Whichever type of construction is used, it will clearly be necessary to work in JFK Park.  Access from a courtyard in the middle of the JFK School will greatly simplify work.

The JFK Park end of the pathway would have to be dug up.

b. Allowances for more than one Green Line A train at a time.

A portion of the JFK Park would have to be wide enough to allow more than one train to wait while one train (or perhaps two) go into Harvard Station, drop off passengers, and pick up passengers.

Two trains might be possible at one time at the Harvard Station end depending on just how much of the Red Line tunnel is usable between the Green Line station at Harvard and the current Red Line tracks.  One train could drop its incoming passengers and move forward into the unused portion of the tunnel.  The second train could come along behind it, drop passengers and immediately pick up passengers.  Then the first train could do the pick up.

The second train, first to pick up, would operate on an express basis, stopping at a limited number of stations, with the second to pick up servicing all stations.

This possibility would be more viable based on use of the busway for the terminal, or a longer terminal visibly capable of holding two trains could be done, combining the plaza terminal with the busway terminal.  Track area viable for use of the portion of track toward the Red Line will determine the flexibility possible.

Whether this technique is possible or not, the double track Green Line A would, of necessity end under the JFK Park because the tunnel into Harvard Station can only handle one track.  At the point where you go from two tracks to one, it would be advisable to have room for more than one train to layover, waiting for trains to be emptied and filled at Harvard Station.

If the double train drop at Harvard Station is possible, that could greatly speed up the operations.

Here is an enlargement of the three suggested Green Line A station possibilities for a terminus at Harvard Station.  Double loading could combine Alternatives S1 and S2.

c. Cut-and-cover.

Cut-and-cover construction is exactly that.  The earth would be removed to such a level that you would be able to continue the existing tunnel underground and under the Charles River.

Here is the photo of the existing situation taken from the JFK School yard.  The wall supporting the connecting path runs left to right across most of the photo.  There is a wide line about half way up the wall which runs across the entire view of the wall.  To the right is a second line above the wide line.  That second line is the top of the still existing tunnel.

As shown in the last report, cut and cover would have to be used initially whether or not ultimate work under the Charles River is done that way or deep bore.

If cut and cover is chosen as the crossing method, construction would start at the end of the existing tunnel and proceed at the depth determined appropriate from there and under JFK Park and the Charles River.  This would involve disruption of Memorial Drive on the Cambridge side and Soldiers Field Road on the Boston side.

Once again, here is the likely crossing route, shot taken closer to the Charles River.

It would be necessary to build dikes holding back the Charles River first from one side and then from the other.

In the photo, the Anderson Bridge is on the left.

To the right of straight ahead is the Harvard Stadium complex.  Straight ahead and to left is the Harvard Business School.

Here is a view of the Boston side of the Charles River facing west.  Soldiers Field Road is on the left.

Here is the extension of the Anderson Bridge on the Boston side, North Harvard Street.  The road to the right is the east bound off ramp of Soldiers Field Road to North Harvard Street / Anderson Bridge.

Here are the grounds of Harvard Stadium facing the Charles River.

Cut-and-cover across the Charles would likely have to end west of the Anderson Bridge at such a distance that the existing Soldiers Field Road / North Harvard Street / Anderson Bridge ramp structure is not impacted.  That means that it would be necessary to build in this last area next to Harvard Stadium, and make the turn onto and under North Harvard Street.

Here are two further views of the Harvard Stadium grounds which would have to be used.

And proceeding under North Harvard Street as shown in the next few photos.

First the Stadium side.

Now showing the Business School Side

The ideal location for a stadium / business school station is the last site.  Here is the enlarged map, again.

The station should be at the intersection of North Harvard Street and “Harvard Way.”

d. Alternate routes.

The map shows a great amount of alternate route analyses (broken red lines).  Alternate routes are described in a lot of detail in the first report of this series.  I have photos.  I really do not know if the alternate routes are worth a report.  Probably the most important value in the Harvard Square alternatives is the possibility of another station at Memorial Drive and JFK Street / Anderson Bridge.

I provided a photo of that intersection above.  Here is another shot, this time from the Anderson Bridge.

The building to the right is a Harvard dormitory.  To the left is JFK Park.

I just do not consider the added station worth it.

The alternate route with the most possible value is just below the map, following Harvard’s proposed new road, Stadium Way.  The reality of that route is that, while it certainly would be less expensive and less disruptive than North Harvard Street, that route would turn the proposal from one with very real community value to a proposal with much less community value.

Those two stops in the neighborhood are major.  That concept is one of the few ideas concerning the Olympics or the Mass. Pike (I90) rebuilding which put a light in the eye of Allston residents.

e. Deep Bore.

Same route, but straighter and deeper, with access from the JFK Park end of the walkway connecting to Harvard Square.  Harm to the environment will vary with the distance needed to get down deep enough to avoid disruption of the surface.

I would think that the same station location would be viable.

Here are several photos of the lawn south of the Harvard Business School.

The last area, and Harvard Stadium, are intended Olympics sites.

Harvard already intends to replace part of this lawn with the connecting road it calls Stadium Way.  Stadium Way would be the focus of the principal alternate route mentioned in the map.  It would wrap around the back and side of a former building which contained WGBH radio and television stations, going to Western Avenue.  It would then connect to Cambridge Street.

Deep bore construction requires access from two ends.  This lawn is the obvious other end.

I do not know how far under North Harvard Street would be necessary for deep bore before reverting to cut-and-cover.

Exact distance needed to get proper depth on either end will determine how far the deep bore preparatory construction needs to go in each direction.  Since the tunnel is starting two stories below ground, it is a good distance below the surface from the beginning at Harvard Square.  That distance under ground also makes sense in the neighborhood in order to get entrances properly aligned with the tunnel.  And the deeper tunnel would also minimize noise for neighbors.

Further limits would, of necessity, be determined by properly supervised engineering staff.

Hopefully, on the Harvard Square end, that further extreme will be no further than the southern edge of Eliot Street.  On the Allston end, I would hope that the intersection of North Harvard and Western, including the gas station, would be the limit.  In each case, only as far as necessary and no further.

f. The neighborhood stations.

I will provide analysis of the neighborhood stations in the future.  I find deep bore highly unlikely in this part of Green Line A.  Deep bore is more expensive than cut-and-cover.  Deep bore makes sense to prevent harm to the Charles, but the Charles is a special situation.

The reality is that a Green Line A under North Harvard Street would be so extremely popular in the neighborhood that the neighborhood would be pleased to put up with the inconvenience of construction.  The folks in the construction zone will demand proper respect for their normal sleep periods.  Responsible replacement of on street parking should be possible with temporary loss of existing open space but without harm to trees.

3. Prior reports on Green Line A.

General analysis:

BU Bridge end of Green Line A:

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

Charles River - Harvard Square:  Corrections to Green Line A Harvard Station Proposal::

Charles River, Comments:  Olympics, Green Line A; fraud in Cambridge, MA, USA City Hall”

Charles River: Green Line A for Olympics, map with options:

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit map reorganized; change Green Line B rapid transit stop name?

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit: One Harvard Station site for consideration.

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit: A Second Harvard Station site for consideration:

Charles River: Olympics Rapid Transit: A third possible Harvard Station, access from JFK Park:

Charles River: Green Line A, Olympics - Changes in Harvard Station (June 17, 2015):