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What lies beneath? In Roslindale Square, paving stones and trolley tracks

Exposed paving stones and tracks in Roslindale Square

On South Street, near where it turns into Belgrade Avenue.

Crews have been stripping the asphalt from the roads of Roslindale Square this week for repaving and restriping. And on South and Corinth Street, they've exposed patches of the old paving stones and trolley tracks that used to support the trains powered by the old substation at Washington Street and Cummins Highway.

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My old man was in a past life, but that's another story. Anyway...seems to me you don't really want to put asphalt right on top of cobblestones with steel rail embedded in them. Differential thermal expansion and all that...

Of course if you were to rip the rails out now, you'd have to pay more now...but then the road surface would last longer so you'd have to pay less later. And we can't have that. Sorry I brought it up.

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Landscape architect here, so in absence of a civil I can lean in.

The beauty of asphalt is that it is fairly elastic, so it can adapt and flex to thermal differences better than, say, concrete. This is a fairly common thing to see in older cities, with the asphalt laid right over a cobblestone and rail Street. In the long run, yes, you probably have to do more patching and maintenance because of the presence of the rail, but it would probably cost much more to take it out. Not only the cobblestones and the rail, but underneath that there are most likely railroad ties 4 or 6 feet on center and about two vertical feet of concrete, stone shards and/or aggregate. Then you have to pay to replace it, labor plus you'd need to buy a lot of stone to make up the base. Much easier to lay down asphalt over the existing base that is already engineered to carry the weight of train cars, and just deal with extra patching from time to time. And I guess also if the social/economical dynamics ever changed such that it made sense to have the rail again in the street it's easier to undo

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In the rush to eliminate trolley lines, those pushing the diesel bus takeover wanted to immediately destroy the tracks so they could never be used for trolleys ever again.

Removing the rails and properly preparing the roadway underlayment before repaving would have taken too much time, and cost more money to do. Burying the tracks in a layer of asphalt was just as effective, for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, this would result in higher maintenance costs later, but the immediate elimination of the trolley lines was a more urgent priority.

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'Those pushing the diesel bus takeover' were the sensible managers of the MTA system at the time. Buses were vastly more flexible, allowing new routes to be created overnight.

If you're referring to the big business conspiracy theory, it was debunked years ago.

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Sure, new routes could be created with busses, but there was no need to destroy existing trolley lines to do so. Really, how often does the create new bus routes overnight? Indeed, many current-day bus lines follow the exact same routes, but with clumsy, diesel exhaust emitting vehicles, instead of clean and efficient electric trolleys.

And no, the concerted effort driven by General Motors and the oil companies to replace electric trains with diesel busses and afford more room on the streets to private motorcars is quite clear. The videos posted in this thread contain many evidentiary details. Plus, it's just plain obvious!

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then you have to do it right like Comm Ave or Beacon Street or the eastern part of Huntingdon Ave.

A bus that can pull up to the curb and go around obstructions is better than a trolley with tracks in the middle of the street.

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   ( trolleys ruled the road, that's why auto companies hated them! )

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In 1979 I was working for a utility construction company and we were running an Edison (it was still Edison back then) power line from South Huntington to Brighams Circle. I would be in the hole and there were all of these old bottles in tact. Very small and pottery shards, we weren't archaeologists but I was fascinated by all the crap we drive over every day.

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Some of the larger institutions around here are occasionally required to do archeological surveys first if they want to build on virgin land.

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...what's under the brick?!

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the beach.

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The slumbering Old Ones from whom only the Turkeys can protect us.

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South Street in 1948

This photo, from the City of Boston Archives, is looking down South Street from the train station in 1948. To take yesterday's photo, I stood roughly behind where the light-colored car on the left was.

See it larger.

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In my day there were these stores that sold mostly just newspapers. Some magazines, some candy maybe, but mostly newspapers.

?

Newspapers were when they printed out the news on a whole lot of big sheets of paper, folded that up, and then people had to go buy these news papers to find out what the latest news was.

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I think it's cool to see the cobblestones.

I also feel like we expect stuff that's engineered in the modern world to be all perfect and modern and engineered from the ground-up. To me, there is something refreshing about the fact that (I'm assuming) competent engineers and experts put new pavement over the old cobblestone, and it generally works pretty good.

Good discussion.

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Roslindale, West Roxbury, Dedham Line - Charles River Streetcar Loop

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I took a photo of this scene this morning and tweeted it to you thinking, “hey, I bet that person that runs Universalhub would think this photo was interesting too!”. Then I find out you took the same photo yesterday...

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