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Allston/Brighton officials worry about Seaport-like congestion under state transportation plans for the next 25 years

MBTA priority places: Logan, Longwood, Kendall, South Boston Waterfront

MBTA's current "priority places." Allston/Brighton officials want part of Allston added.

Five elected officials who represent Allston/Brighton want the state to include the area around the Allston turnpike exit as a "priority place" in its 2040 transportation plans because development in and near the old Beacon Park rail yard will otherwise mean "unacceptable congestion."

The elected officials say the state's current plans seem not to care all that much about the mess that will result without adequate north/south public transit through the area - including the development of a true "multi-modal" West Station in the Harvard-owned Beacon Park complex - and say the state needs to look at linking Kendall Square, the Allston turnpike area and the Longwood Medical Area with a solid public-transit system.

Kendall and Longwood are two of the current "priority places" the MBTA says need the most attention in its Focus 40 effort - which seeks to develop Boston-area transportation plans for the next 25 years. The other two are Logan Airport and the South Boston Waterfront

The letter - signed by state senators William Brownsberger and Sal DiDomenico, state representatives Kevin Honan and Michael Moran and City Councilor Mark Ciommo - says that ignores the innovation district Harvard is planning for the former rail yard and all the other development that will spring up around it - some of it already underway on nearby Harvard land in Allston.

Linking Kendall, the impending Allston area and the medical area - possibly using some of the proposals left over from the once grandiose Urban Ring plans - would also benefit all of the residents in the area find and get to jobs. They added that the three areas already have large employers who might be willing to contribute towards the costs of any new system, much like Harvard has already agreed to help pay for the proposed West Station.

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When you're using this as the title graphic can you please provide a link to the source? I think I found it in the powerpoint presentation here as slide 15: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57757a3cff7c50f318d8aae0/t/5b5f30...

It's labeled major employment/destination centers which would help to put that heatmap in context. Allston/Brighton is not designated as such in that heatmap although the additional context from the upcoming Harvard development could make it such.

It would be helpful to the reporting if that was explained without having to click through to the Focus40 website, find the powerpoint and then try to put those red blobs into context by yourself.

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And, yes, context would have been helpful: Unlike past MBTA/MTA/Boston Elevated multi-decade planning efforts (which I've been researching for a story, but more on that in a day or so), this one seeks to figure out where the demand for services will actually be in two or three decades - in the past, major planning has been more of either "if we build it, they will come" or figuring out how subway service could replace the commuter-rail service that always seemed to be on the verge of being shut down (from the 1940s through the early 1960s, the private railroads that owned and ran commuter trains kept threatening to do that; it's one of the reasons the Red Line was extended to Braintree).

Key to the 2040 planning is looking at where the key employment centers will be then. What the Allston/Brighton officials are saying is that the state is making a mistake leaving the area around the Allston/Cambridge exit off their list, because while it's not much of an employment powerhouse yet, it will be by 2040.

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We need smart traffic light technology installed on every traffic light in the city of Boston. I don't know how many millions of dollars this will require but it's worth it. Pre timed traffic light cycles is so 1900s tech. Kinda like steampunk. Lets move into the future Boston. Stop clutching those pearls.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_traffic_light

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We have cameras on all these intersections - to monitor traffic flow, not enforcement - but would it be so impossible to have a couple of people sit in a central command center, monitor the traffic, and if a particular area is getting backed up - just give the backed-up direction a couple of extra-long green cycles? Something as simple as a minor road repair, or a double parked delivery truck, can mean the difference between spending 30 seconds at a light, vs spending 5 or 10 minutes at one.

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So, the MBTA is focusing on improving transit in well-funded booming business areas that already at least have transit access, but no mention at all of the residential neighborhoods that only have bus service?

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The parts of South Boston and Allston-Brighton they are primarily speaking about only have bus service.

Here's my wish list, mostly to counter the buses that replaced the streetcars Alfred P. Sloan killed:

I would like to see a return of the A line [75% of Brighton Ave and Cambridge St are wide enough for dedicated ROW, with maybe street running just through Brighton Center and a couple other blocks].

A crosstown light rail that goes from East Cambridge to Lower Allston [or beyond] would also be useful. Can be run on existing railroad tracks if wire strung overhead.

Light rail in the seaport and South Boston that connects to South Station. Gondola? Srsly? How's that going to run in a Noreaster?

Light rail on Washington Street, through Egleston Square and beyond - where the elevated Orange Line used to run. Wide enough for dedicated ROW.

Extension of Orange Line to at least Roslindale if not beyond.
Overhaul silly rules against DMU so people would actually want to use Fairmount and other commuter lines. And price them accordingly, not the same as taking a train to Montana.

And my best request - remove payment from the whole system. Raise taxes on schools, businesses, gas, and property to fund appropriately.

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I actually have a half dozen things, but I want to have clarity and leave it at one. Washington Street south of Dudley Square is not wide enough for a dedicated right of way.

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Washington is a bit narrow between Dudley and Forest Hills for a surface ROW. It looks like you could do a cut & cover tunnel, however? And run an Orange spur from Forest Hills through the current Washington Silver Line, re-linking to the system via Tufts, ditching the more complicated Green Line F-spur discussion. But I thought usage doesn't support heavy rail on the Dudley side (hence BRT, and light rail conversion being discussed). In addition, Egleston Sq as BlackKat mentions seems relatively well-served by the existing Southwest Corridor.

Warren St through Blue Hills Ave all the way to Mattapan, however, is an incredibly wide road that branches directly from Dudley Sq, and could easily accommodate a light rail ROW. Doing so would fill the service gap between the Orange, Fairmount, and Mattapan radial lines. Linked with the Green properly around the Pleasant Street Incline, you could take a Green trolley from Mattapan Station, past Franklin Park, through Dudley and the South End, and then Downtown.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QEDsLdM.png)

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You sketched out what I think the T should be thinking about. That corridor is probably one of the parts of Boston that has the worst transit options but is overlooked when it comes to transit planning.

The only thing I’d change is to tunnel the whole thing. It would make the transit more rapid than running on the street, even with dedicated ROW. The density would justify it.

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At least for this leg, the emphasis seems to be on employment centers, so ignoring residential areas could be seen, but the earlier draft of their strategic plans, while mentioning concepts like equity, did seem to ignore parts of the region, specifically parts of Boston and other “gateway city” areas that could stand to benefit from increased transit accessibility.

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Any serious consideration of the T/ public transportation as a meaningful part of Boston's traffic problems seems too little too late.

The choice was made years ago with the Big Dig and its price-tag of $15B.

The choice was for the automobile and not shared urban connection, for cars at the expense of the subway.

Currently, it remains apparent also that an insufficient number of people are willing to relinquish the luxuries associated with their automobiles, luxuries which include privacy, privilege, and personal social expression ("How expensive is your car?!" )

Public transportation is too egalitarian.
It’s too public.
It’s too Socialist.

We can now declare confidently that 'Charley' will never return, that he's buried deep beneath the streets of Boston, and he's a man along with his hopes for a robust subway system of comfort and reliability that will never return.

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Public transit (MBTA busses, as they currently exist in residental near-Boston) are too unreliable for people trying to go to work, get their children to school, make it to appointments, etc.

Pre-Big Dig, I rode the bus to the subway to work every day. I only drove when we were going to be packing my van with people for a concert at Foxboro after work.

I moved as the Big Dig was coming on line. I used to be able to catch a bus to MIT quite reliably. Then there started to be unannounced cancellations. I was trying to go to a baby shower and waited at the busstop for just over an hour before bagging it and going home. I was late to client meetings about half-a-dozen times before I gave up relying on the T.

The last time I went into Boston for a gathering, I was dropped off at Central to catch the Dudley bus; I was planning on catching the connecting bus home, but it told me there were no busses west expected for 2 hours. So I called and was picked up from Harvard.

TL:DR: Public transit's neither too public nor too socialist; just too unreliable for working stiffs to depend on.

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I had jury duty last week. I parked with my A/B sticker in Packard's Corner, and used the B Line to get to Government Center.

Since I didn't see the train right away, I decided to walk down Comm, since there's no sense in standing still to board and sit through red lights when I can walk past the red lights. I commenced my walk at 8:14, and walked all the way to BU West before I saw a train coming.

I promptly positioned myself at the shelter, pulled out my Charlie Ticket...and watched like a complete chump as a trolley rang its bell and blew right on by as if I didn't exist. No, there was not another one behind it.

I walked all the way past Blandford St. without seeing another surface train. I eventually boarded at Kenmore after walking for 26 minutes. Still cost me $2.75.

Rip up the tracks and make that a dedicated Lyft Line lane or something, because the guy from New Hampshire who knows 12 words of English will do a better job for not much more money. Absolutely no excuses for me not getting on a train for 26 minutes during the 8 AM hour on a weekday.

The fare has tripled in 20 years. Is the service thrice as good? I think not. Wealth is a shell game. The Republican party is trash, but their gubernatorial nominee might get my vote if he promises that I'll never pay a nickel of my income tax to fund the boondoggle that is the T.

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Actually, you make my point more eloquently and clearly.

There's no justification to throw $15B or any more $$$ at 'public transportation'. There's no public will for it...(i.e. to use the Neo-Con term,..."the baby is drowned.'

Yes. "That train came and went.' The choice was made back in the 70's.

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You are talking about the expansion of the Red Line and rerouting/expansion of the Orange Line, right?

Of you could learn about the choice that was made in the 70s, but it sounds like Adam will be doing some long form prose about that soon.

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And, really, the 70's, 80's, and 90's are a blur to me now....LOL

And, today,I don't know which transportation option will prove to be the worst choice.
Risks and unreliability and delays are everywhere.

Maybe carve Boston into a system of canals? (like Venice Italy?) lol

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Why don't you take one to Atlanta or Dallas if you love yourself some intractable car traffic so much?

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It's her problem now, am assuming.

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cars are FINISHED as a viable mode of transportation in this city. Simple physics: you're packing large metal containers on what are basically cow paths that will never ever be wide enough, ever. And those are just the highways.

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It's only because everybody wants to work at the same time. My shift started at 7:30 this morning, and I got there in 27 minutes. Maybe more people should work on Sunday and fewer people should work on weekdays. Maybe traffic would be staggered better.

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Who woke Moran up? Speaker Deleo must have given him permission to get involved. 532

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The state and MBTA pushing off West Station should be criminal. Pleasantly surprised to see elected officials pushing a transit-first platform here.

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