Saturday, July 21, 2018

Charles River: I90 history and relation to current reality.

Charles River: I90 history and relation to current reality.

1. Introduction.
2. Phil Barber Analysis.
3. Historical Supplement.
4. What is going on now.
5. The Inner Belt Updated.
A. Hypocrisy at Micro Center.
(1) Destroyers bragging about the last time destroyers were defeated.
(2) Reality, helping the updated Inner Belt.
6. The bigger reality.
7. Disclosure.

1. Introduction.

Phil Barber reports on history of I90 inbound from the area we are reporting on.  He is responding to our recent report on a delay in the project.  That report is posted at

2. Phil Barber Analysis.

Interesting. This follows the tradition of the Pike, unfortunately. When it was built 300 homes were taken in Newton by eminent domain, with homeowners given just 30-day notice to go. At the other end, Pike construction was the excuse to level the part of the South End where I grew up. Everyone’s heard of the West End but the damn BRA began in my neighborhood, clear cutting blocks of apartment buildings but of course leaving untouched the several large commercial buildings there. They also carved away a big chunk of Chinatown on the other side of the railroad tracks.

Here’s a photo of it. They had already demolished all the housing on the “New York streets” (named after NY towns on land filled in by the NYNH&H RR) and built the Boston Herald building there. That’s where my mom grew up and my folks had their first apartment. All the empty lots seen here had been filled with apartment buildings and homes.

3. Historical Supplement.

We have done a number of reports on the planning for the rebuild of I90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) on the Boston side of the Charles River across from Magazine Beach, the main habitat of the Charles River White Geese for the past 37 years, until heartless animal abuse became a normal part of government operations in Cambridge, MA, USA, along with the reprehensible Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The photographed portion of the construction of I90 to which Phil is referring is inbound (east) from the current work area.  It is really only about a mile or so to the South End which was destroyed as Phil describes.

Some terms which should be explained.

NYNH&H RR is the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad which owned the railroad until about the time Phil mentions.  It was bought by the Penn Central Transportation Company which then went bankrupt.  The railroad is now part of Amtrak.  All railroads relevant to our reports are now owned either by Amtrak or by the state’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The West End was located between Massachusetts General Hospital (in turn, on the Charles River) and North Station, the Boston terminal for the other main railroad servicing Boston.  The West End was destroyed for “urban renewal” and laid mostly bare for years.

BRA is Boston Redevelopment Authority, until recently the semi-independent planning agency of the City of Boston.

Newton is westbound from the site currently in question, a few miles.

The Boston Herald Building, mentioned by Phil, was located near Boston’s Chinatown, also mentioned by Phil.  Each entity wound up on opposite sides of I90 before I90 connected with Boston’s Southeast Expressway.  The southeast expressway is now part of I93, and abutted the Boston Herald Building on the east.  The Boston Herald building was recently torn down by the private sector and medium height luxury housing is replacing it.

Perhaps the Boston Herald Building’s last use was for working offices for the Melissa McCarthy / Saundra Bullock movie, The Heat.  The bar scene was shot on a set built in the Boston Herald building (and I was very visible in that shoot).

4. What is going on now.

Here is the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)’s Figure 4.8-01 from the Draft Environmental Impact Report, cropped to remove less relevant portions to the north and south.

Much of our discussion concerns train stops. The T’s indicate existing stops.

I90 followed the Worcester - Boston train tracks in this area through Newton and train stops in Newton, before entering Boston’s Brighton and Allston neighborhoods.

The train tracks are marked in purple.  Newton is off the map to the left.  In the middle, in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, is the study site (the future Harvard Medical School, former Beacon Park Rail Yards, I90 with exits ramps to Cambridge (top part of the map), to the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, and to the Town of Brookline).  The destroyed South End, plus Chinatown and the former Boston Herald building are to the right of the map.

The three T markings are for the “Boston Landing” station, better known as the New Balance station; Yawkey Station, adjacent to Fenway Park and Kenmore Square; and the Copley Station, which is about a block from a not destroyed portion of the South End.  I90 is specifically marked to the right of Yawkey Station.

After Allston, I90 goes through narrow segments of the Back Bay / Fenway neighborhood and of the Town of Brookline.  I90 then goes through the destroyed South End.    This former South End area is a mile or so by I90 / the railroad.

Current I90 construction proposes a new stop in the work area which is a stalking horse for Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction Railroad (MBTA owned) in Cambridge with significant harm to Cambridge auto traffic, and with harm to the animal habitat on the Charles River

Here is a MassDOT map marked with the intersections harmed in Cambridge.

The Orange Line at the bottom left is I90.  The purple line running off it is the Grand Junction Railroad.  I90 goes under Commonwealth Avenue, in Boston, runs along the Boston / Brookline Town Line and then goes past Yawkey Station.  Yawkey Station is very near to Kenmore Square, Boston and to the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park

Commuter rail on the Grand Junction in Cambridge was defeated by organized people in Cambridge because of the very real interference with traffic on five busy Cambridge streets.  So the movers and shakers are fighting for Commuter Rail in Cambridge as secretly as they can get away with.

The new station, West Station WAS ADDED TO THE I90 REBUILD PROJECT, after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation started planning without it.  The addition was apparently by gubernatorial direction (Gov. Patrick, I believe).  The current proposal by MassDOT would defer work on West Station for several years.

By sneaking Commuter Rail into the I90 project, the Cambridge machine prevented meaningful opposition to gel by hiding the project.  When Commuter Rail was studied in the past, there was that very significant Cambridge opposition.

Favorable comments on West Station have been very significantly from interests in Cambridge’s Kendall Square area of Cambridge, THE ONLY location to benefit from Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction according to the prior MassDOT study which rejected Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction because of its very minimal value in the transportation system.

Strangely, there has been a comment from Harvard / Longwood Medical Area management that West Station would be useful to it for commuter transportation to / from the Longfellow Medical Area.  Their suggested shuttle route has the adjoining Town of Brookline highly distressed since many shuttle buses would be used and they would very heavily use Brookline streets.

Of major interest, however, is that the next station toward Boston from the proposed West Station is the Yawkey Station, near Fenway Park and Kenmore Square, showing pretty much in the middle of the MassDOT area map as T.

Yawkey Station is about half a mile from the Harvard / Longwood Medical area.  West Station is perhaps three miles from the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area on the winding route suggested through Brookline.

So the pitch is that LMA transportation people would ignore Yawkey Station half a mile from LMA and transport its commuters three miles through Brookline to West Station.  Thus LMA claimed to be getting value from West Station.

The bizarreness of this route is difficult to explain other than from gross incompetence until you realize that the major actor both in the project area and in the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area is Harvard University.  Stupid arguments are highly common when dealing with Cambridge entities.

Yawkey is the only station between the proposed West Station and the South End area which Phil reports on.  Yawkey Station’s projected commuter load is a VERY LARGE MULTIPLE of the projected commuter load at West Station.

The tiny projected commuter load at West Station is almost identical to the nearby existing new commuter station built primarily for the New Balance company.  The Boston Landing / New Balance station is just as impossible to justify based on commuter projected use as is West Station.  The Cambridge / Kendall folks are fighting for a second nearly useless train station IN CLOSE PROXIMITY to the nearly useless Boston Landing / New Balance station.

5. The Inner Belt Updated.

A. Hypocrisy at Micro Center.

(1) Destroyers bragging about the last time destroyers were defeated.

The Cambridge City Council stays in power by doing a lot of lying.

This is part of a mural on the back side of the MicroCenter building.  It was impossible to get a good shot which showed the entire mural.  At the right is a bulldozer marked “Inner Belt.”

This was originally painted on the back of the building decades ago.  The City Council paid to have it restored, and bragged about the expenditure.  They do a lot of bragging, even about extreme hypocrisy, neglecting to mention the hypocrisy, of course.

(2) Reality, helping the updated Inner Belt.

Here are the remnants of two excellent trees the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation destroyed on the Memorial Drive side of the MicroCenter building, next to its parking lot.

The owner had lovingly cared for these trees.

On April 24, 2017, in Order 1, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to support DCR destruction as part of the Magazine Beach outrages.  In June 2017, the DCR, on behalf of the Cambridge City Council destroyed these trees.

The destruction of 56 trees, including these, by the Cambridge City Council will do an excellent job of speeding up on Memorial Drive to handle traffic from the updated Inner Belt.  This destruction was just the first destruction.  Apologists for the Cambridge City Council say they will be replaced with “better” trees.  So what.  They should not have been destroyed in the first place.
The DCR and Cambridge are speeding up Memorial Drive by minimizing driveways.  The driveway straight ahead is one that will survive.

Across the street are seven admittedly excellent trees the Cambridge City Council voted to destroy.

The “explanation” of the Cambridge City Council’s agent, the DCR is that the agent is moving the parking lot on the other side of the doomed trees on top of the trees.

That will move the driveway to the right / west of the trees directly across from that driveway to MicroCenter.

Here is the relevant destruction plan marked up to show the driveways.

The pair of driveways above Memorial Drive are the two driveways on either side of the destroyed trees.

Below the pair is the driveway to the west of the seven excellent and doomed trees shown above.  The green space east of that driveway and across from the eastern MicroCenter driveway is the seven admittedly excellent and doomed trees which will be destroyed and the new parking lot entrance.

The two dots to the right are two entrances to the little guys parking lot which is used by non rich people to park for barbeques.  That parking lot is being destroyed, along with all but one of the trees in it, with destruction of  perhaps 30 mostly excellent trees around it, including truly magnificent trees at the right / east end of the park, facing the playing fields which are to the right.  The two driveways are promised to be replaced with one.  So four driveways become two.  And traffic from I90, by way of the rotary to the right top of this photo, will move that much faster.

6. The bigger reality.

I can only extend this report so long.

My formal analysis in the environmental review of the I90 rebuilt includes in detail the games that Cambridge entities are playing in the I90 project.  This analysis presents goes into the rest of this current analysis very nicely.  As far as this analysis goes, really, enough is enough.

Please see, pages 96 to 125 for the full analysis with emphasis on the I90 rebuild, going into the very terrible things that are being fought for as secretly as possible.

7. Disclosure.

I was employed by the Penn Central Management Company in Baltimore and Philadelphia in th elate sixties during the planning period for the initial I90 construction between the current site area and Boston’s Southeast Expressway (now part of I93).  The closest I came to the studies which would up building I90 was as a labor relations management trainee observing Penn Central’s Food Service on the Boston - Washington route.

I attended Boston University in the early 70's in a graduate program while this phase of I90 construction took place.  My first semester, Fall 1970, I commuted to Boston University by bicycle from an apartment perhaps half a mile west of the main part of the current I90 rebuild / train yard site.  My commute went through the Magazine Beach area, including the Goose Meadow before the Charles River White Geese established habitat.

I was employed as an intern in the Massachusetts governor’s office in Summer 1972.  While I was given credit for a totally separate and rather spectacular legislative occurrence, I had nothing to do with the governor’s, at that time, putting the death knell on the Inner Belt proposal through Cambridge and Brookline.

For what it is worth, long after the period in question, I was probably one of the last people employed in the Boston Herald Building, working very visibly in the bar scene in Melissa McCarthy / Saundra Bullock’s The Heat.  I made it into a teaser, the bar scene, and the closing credits.