NORTH SOUTH RAIL LINK

Engineering Problem Solving

And Design Project

ES96: Design Survivor

Spring 2018

At the beginning of the semester, my ES96 class was introduced to the 100 year old problem of the North South Rail Link (NSRL). The NSRL refers to the mile long strip between North Station and South Station that currently does not have a railway connection. Our teaching staff and clients asked us to find a solution to the North South Rail Link to be presented at the end of the semester. 

In a team of 16 people, we began to research the history of the North South Rail Link and predictive trends for population and travel paths to decide whether the creation of a North South Rail Link is a viable solution. In our research, we found that the cost of the NSRL and expected ridership did not support the creation of this infrastructure so we pivoted to focus on building an alternative solution to the NSRL. This led us to our problem statement:

How might the construction of the NSRL, or a viable alternative targeted towards improved connectivity, improve the long-term sustainability of the MBTA public transportation system?

From this statement we began to research further into Boston's public transportation based around four broader categories: sustainability, infrastructure, ridership and revenue/operation.  I particularly worked within the four person subgroup for infrastructure. We looked to see how we can improve or re-purpose the existing Boston public transportation infrastructure to support the same goals at the North South Rail Link. We particularly looked into existing right of ways, underused tunnels in Boston and Congress St.This research began to form our initial solution grouping and shaped our initial evaluation criteria. 

From this research, we ended with three overarching solution spaces: the urban ring, ferries and road transformation. I worked on the urban ring section to check it's viability and design its alignment. The final alignment for our group is displayed to the left as both a map and table. 

Throughout the process of this class, I researched the background of the North South Rail Link and existing infrastructure, proposed the urban ring solution, helped construct the final presentation visuals, built the visualization templates, helped coordinate across 60 students for final products and designed and drove our proposed alignment. The end result of this project was an hour and a half presentation detailing my group's 3 solutions as well as solutions from the rest of the class. In addition, we have detailed the work of the semester in a final report which can be found here.