Friday, June 19, 2015

Charles River: Major victory on the Grand Junction, plus

RE: Charles River: Major victory on the Grand Junction, plus

1. Apology to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).
2. MassDOT, Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Cambridge, MA.
3. Worcester Line Commuter Rail out of Consideration for Grand Junction.
4. The announcements.
5. Conclusion.
7. Cambridge’s Record.
1. Apology to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

The scope of your decision on the Grand Junction will be analyzed in detail below.

First and foremost, however, I regret not publicly praising you during my comment on Tuesday, June 16, at the Mass. Pike (I90) public meeting in Allston.

First of all, it took awhile to fully evaluate the major importance of those words on one slide. Only when I raised the issue at the Capital Investment Plan presentation in Taunton did the scope of what you have done fully sink in. There was no ambiguity and there was very great clarity in the response.

It seems very clear now that all commuter rail service on the Framingham - Worcester line will continue to terminate in South Station and none will be rerouted to North Station via the Grand Junction railroad or any other way.

Additionally, I did my best on Tuesday to keep my comments to the instructed two minutes.

I hope that, in addition to your continued excellence in Grand Junction planning, you will aggressively and successfully follow up with Olympics planners and achieve for the Olympics, for North Allston, and for Cambridge, the Back Bay, and for rapid transit planning in general, the very major advantages which can be achieved through the construction of the Green Line A spur I have proposed.

The value of the Green Line A spur increases the more I think of it, and the timing works excellently between the Mass. Pike work and the Olympics needs, plus this major and valuable regional transportation improvement will be an additional sweetener on a national scale to a Boston Olympics 2024.

In any case, thank you. At absolute minimum, I could not possibly have said everything that needed to be said in that 2 minutes, plus the full scope and importance of your decision did not come to my mind until my exchange in Taunton.

Thank you very much and my commendations.

2.   MassDOT, Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Cambridge, MA.

The impact of the DCR dates back to a reorganization of a very vile state department which comports well with the government of the City of Cambridge, MA.

Dealing with the DCR, the City of Cambridge, and MassDOT is like sitting in a room with two destructive children and one adult. The adult, MassDOT, is not perfect, but the adult is normal and responsible.

The legislature meaningfully communicated pretty much the same in the reorganization which stripped the former Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) of a lot of its power and folded the rest into the DCR. Power over bridges on the Charles River went to MassDOT, which already had the Grand Junction railroad. The rest of the MDC went into the DCR.

The reason was simple: flat out contempt in the legislature for the destructiveness and incompetence of the DCR. The City of Cambridge is very much in sync with the destructiveness. Regrettably, the planning department of the MDC is the destructive part, and that destructive planning department wound up in the DCR pretty much intact.

But on the Charles River, the adult is standing up to the irresponsible children.

This report, except as directly relevant, does not go into MassDOT excellent record in comparison to that of the
destructive children.

3. Worcester Line Commuter Rail out of Consideration for Grand Junction.

Dirty tricks are the norm in Cambridge Planning. The pols commonly fight "for" the wishes of their constituents and then "regretfully" and "after great thought" and after cynical maneuvering of their constituents, achieve what they wanted to achieve in the first place.

Here is MassDOT’s map showing the Grand Junction railroad in Cambridge.

The purpose of this railroad, historically, has been to provide connection for freight between train yards:
a. associated with Boston’s North Station (above the map) and
b. associated with Boston’s South Station (below the map). This is the yard which was mostly emptied a year or so ago and whose use is now under consideration in the Mass. Turnpike (I90) planning.

The Mass. Pike has a major exit to Cambridge and to Boston’s Brighton / Allston neighborhoods in the same area are the former rail yard. Cambridge’s Harvard University bought both about ten years ago subject to transportation uses.

Additionally, the Grand Junction has been used to transfer passenger cars between the two yards for use on the respective parts of the passenger system, plus I think there are maintenance facilities in the Mass. Pike area.

I have marked on the map the streets of the City of Cambridge whose traffic would be disrupted by each and every passenger train rerouted to the Grand Junction. This would constitute severe impact to traffic on those roads.

Here is the most recent MassDOT map showing their intentions in the key rebuilding area.

West Station is near the bottom slightly right of middle. Above it is the Mass. Pike. going around it.

MassDOT previously studied Cambridge’s gambit for commuter service on the Grand Junction. MassDOT found commuter passenger service on the Grand Junction had no value except for Cambridge’s Kendall Square which, in turn, is dominated by Cambridge’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT has major speculative development existing and planned near the Grand Junction Railroad.

MassDOT stated that MassDOT saw no value for commuter rail service on the Grand Junction as long as the commuter rail could go to South Station.

This week’s announcements strongly reaffirm that position.

4. The announcements.

In the Tuesday meeting concerning Mass. Pike rebuilding, there was one slide which stated that all commuter rail service from the commuter rail West Station (proposed as part of the planning) and a nearby proposed station would go to South Station. This is contrary to what had been previously discussed for West Station.

I hope I got this straight.

On Thursday, I went to MassDOT’s public presentation in Taunton, MA, to the south of Boston, concerning MassDOT’s capital plans for the next year.

I questioned the presenters and got a highly non ambiguous response that ALL commuter rail on the Framingham - Worcester line (which includes West Station and the Mass. Pike reorganization are) would go to South Station. No ambiguity whatsoever.
5. Conclusion.

Crossing the Charles River on the Grand Junction railroad with commuter rail service would have severe impact on the free animals on the Cambridge side and on the environment in which they live. That seems to be clearly off the table.

Once again, thank you Mass DOT.

6. Green Line A proposal.

Excellent idea and well but briefly presented by me at the Tuesday meeting.

Green Line A would readily be fit in with the MassDOT Mass. Pike plans. I have been carful in my plans to exactly specify the location of nothing in the main Mass. Pike rebuilding area.

The plan:

My most recent report on this concept has been posted at

That report includes links to all posts in the very detailed analysis I have provided.

7. Cambridge’s Record.


Recent summary at

A lot of photos.