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The sinkhole that ate the Green Line

That's some sinkhole

The Mass. Department of Transportation posted this photo of the raging sinkhole that erupted under Green Line tracks between Chestnut Hill and Newton Center this morning, forcing commuters onto shuttle buses until the T can repair the damage.

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I believe that may have exceeded the spec for a sinkhole, and moved into "ravine" territory.

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FAIL!

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Why do you think the call it Riverside?

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Yeah... sinkholes are by definition "holes," not gullies.

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From the MBTA.

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It almost looks like the one on the left side of the photo is close to being completely undermined.

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... usually run under the tracks here?

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Basically, this is the pass-through for water from a peat bog north of the tracks to drain down to Hammond Pond...which is almost ALWAYS very STILL water. The amount of water draining down there right now looks like 100x more than normal. The pond must be close to overrunning its banks by now. Its average depth is usually FOUR feet...I wish I knew how deep it was running now. It doesn't have very steep banks at all.

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And yes, I admit that isn't what I though when I first saw this picture, but I am at work after all.

And yes, this does look like it'll involve a lengthy and pricy fix. While waiting for my Boston College train for the next little while I will be casting sympathetic looks towards my Riverside bretheren.

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If they got up enough steam, they could probably clear the jump.

And now I have the theme music to the Dukes of Hazard stuck in my head. :P

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What is the MBTA going to do for Riverside commuters from Newton? This could take WEEKS to repair!

I know the track between Newton Center and Newton Highlands runs by a lake, which can only exacerbate the sinkhole. In addition, the roads in Newton can become a parking lot during morning rush hour (thanks to all the school traffic), so shuttle buses are not an ideal long-term solution.

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This looks like it's near the Webster Conservation area, which is connected by Hammond Pond to the back of the Chestnut Hill Mall.

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In fact, I think I recognize those fences in the back as those where the reindeer are held at the back of the conservation area. I think they are reindeer anyway.

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The photos, based on the overhead lines does look like the Chestnut Hill reservation area. There is a very low wet area - to the left and to the right - before you get to the break in the fence were the train slows down for the trail. Doesn't take too much for that saturation to take old infrastructure away. BTW: that area is absolutely beautiful and wonderful to watch as the seasons change.

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I realize now that particular stream runs into Hammond Pond and not Crystal Lake, but it still could take awhile to repair.

What is the MBTA's plan for dealing with a prolonged service outage on the Riverside line? Again, shuttle buses may not be ideal during rush hour, especially if they result in 30+ minute delays on a regular (daily) basis.

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Was the estimate they just gave on TV, in the news conference where Patrick announced a state of emergency.

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What are the other options beyond buses until it is fixed?

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That's what the T did for a few days after the 1996 flood. But it doesn't much help anyone in between Riverside and Reservoir.

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heliocopters

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This can't be good. I don't expect that this will be fixed very quickly.

It also looks like there is a house just a little downstream. If it had a basement, it's probably an indoor pool now.

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I do believe that they ought to do something about that drainage problem.

Preventative maintenance and good design: that's the MBTA's motto!

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Could part of this problem be that some city/town or the DCR has responsibility for the drainage and culvert, while the MBTA has the tracks?

That sort of balkanization of responsibilities contributes a great deal to Massbackwardness when it comes to proper maintenance and effective design.

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The house in the background of the first photo is east of Newton Centre. There is a small brook that usually begins there as an open watercourse, but this is obviously what feeds that. It is not near Crystal Lake, which is between Newton Centre and Newton Highlands. I am surprised that this is so large, because the street drainage in this area is mostly parallel to the tracks. There is a large woodland south of the tracks along here, and parhaps the ground is saturated back in there, so surface runoff is just overwhelming the normal drainage courses.

I think there is a small culvert here. Or was.

Newton Center guy

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The small culvert is now a large culvert.

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And here I was getting pissed off that they were shuttling us. Good god!

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Do I know understand this correctly?

If you are at Riverside and want to get downtown on the Green Line, you have to:

  1. Ride a shuttle bus from Riverside to Reservoir
  2. Ride a train from Reservoir to Fenway
  3. Ride a bus from Fenway to Kenmore
  4. Ride a train from Kenmore to downtown.

Can't they just run some "express" shuttles from Riverside to Kenmore?

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What a pain. A better option, though, is to walk a couple minutes from Reservoir to Cleveland Circle and just take the C line downtown. (Still annoying, I know.)

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Fenway and Kenmore. So it's now a bus from Riverside to Reservoir, and a train from there all the way into Downtown Boston.

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(shakes head)

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If you're heading downtown, I'd recommend you take the C line from Cleveland Circle instead of the D line at Reservoir. That way it's just one bus and one train.

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There's an express bus route from Riverside to Downtown. Doesn't stop at Kenmore though. I imagine that's a popular route lately.

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NECN said the break was near Glen Ave. in Newton, so I looked it up. Here's the spot matching the scene:

Green Line washout.

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Why would it try to undercut the tracks there?

"Downhill" is still down track to the east towards the bog and Hammond Pond. Sure, the south side of the track is lower than the north side, but the tracks are raised and there should have been drainage down the north side of the tracks to some sort of passage underneath further down...

Did those private houses north of the tracks on the hillside put in some sort of gully that is pressurizing the flow off the hill and straight into the side of the track bed?? It looks like the combination of the property line and the looooong downhill driveway for the closest house have made a funnel for all of the rain water coming off of that hill. Nice work, fellas. Nice work.

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