February 29, 2008
From April Bertelsen:
It is with a heavy heart that I share the following news. There has been a legal challenge in Federal court to the City of Portland's ability to require private property dedications to build sidewalks.
The case is Marion Skoro v. The City of Portland, No. CV 06-1319-HU, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. See the attached Opinion and Order of the Judge filed on February 21, 2008. Marion Skoro, a local property owner and developer, filed the case claiming a takings for two separate properties where the City required sidewalk dedications. At SE 52nd and Cooper, the City required a six (6) foot dedication to widen the sidewalk from 6 ft to 12 ft. At SE 52nd and Woodstock, the City required a two (2) foot dedication to widen the sidewalk to 12 ft.
This is a challenge to City policy to create an accessible and sustainable transportation system. It is a challenge to the Pedestrian Design Guide, intended to help develop an environment conducive to walking, for which we are nationally known. For those of you steeped land use legal issues and case law, we are talking property rights issues, takings, and case law including Nollan vs. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard.
To summarize the ruling, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Marion Skoro, for his property at SE 52nd and Woodstock and sent the case regarding SE 52nd and Cooper to a trial with a jury.
The City has not given up here. We need to make a VERY strong case to sway a jury in our favor for the SE 52nd and Cooper case. We will challenge the other in court as well.
We Need Your Help
I am contacting you because I think you have a stake in the outcome of this decision, may be able to help play a role in our challenge and/or can help share it with others that may. In the near future, we may be contacting individuals to serve as expert witnesses to help us make that case for why we require dedications to widen sidewalks, how 12 ft sidewalks provides ADA compliant accessible pathways given all the other objects located in the sidewalk zone (trees, poles, A-boards, bike parking, sidewalk cafes, newspaper boxes, etc), as well as how sidewalks benefit the abutting property owner and access to their businesses, etc.
PLEASE let me know if you take interest if helping our case or know some who does.
PLEASE share this message with your members, colleagues, etc
February 28, 2008
Trimet News Release (February 26, 2008)
TriMet & BTA will work to make it safer for bicyclists & buses
Two weeks ago, 15-year-old Austin Miller died while riding his bike home from his Beaverton high school when he and a TriMet bus collided at the intersection of SW Farmington and Murray. As the police investigated this tragic collision, it became clear to the leadership at TriMet and at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance that preventing future crashes like this one would take more than simply admonishing bicyclists and drivers.
While all early indications are that the bus operator followed TriMet safety procedures, we would be remiss if we did not take action to improve road safety in our region following this crash. With more bicyclists and vehicles sharing the road, a more critical look at general causes is needed, including road and trail design, education for cyclists and drivers, street connectivity (or lack thereof) and traffic volumes in the area.
Just days after the incident, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen called a meeting at the BTA offices to discuss how TriMet can actively improve its operations and planning for bicycles in the region. Here are the actions TriMet and BTA commit to taking in cooperation with one another:
* Following the crash, TriMet trainers immediately began reinforcing to every operator (nearly 1,200 of them) the safe operating requirements when cyclists are present, including anticipating bicyclists' movements, and yielding to cyclists before pulling into or out of a bus stop, or turning or changing lanes.
* TriMet trainers will emphasize operating a bus around bicyclists in the 2008 training cycle above the level of attention it has received in years past.
* The BTA and TriMet will work together to identify routes with high levels of bus/bike congestion or conflict and will explore ways to minimize conflicts. Improvements could include more space dedicated to buses and bikes, enhancements to alternative routes for bicycle travel, or moving bus stops or bike lanes to minimize conflicts.
TriMet will work with the BTA and other regional bike groups to encourage county and local governments to adequately plan for and build safer bicycle infrastructure.
* TriMet planners will look at nearby bike routes and crossings when bus and train stops are built, moved or enhanced to determine if improvements can be made as part of or concurrently with the project.
* TriMet and the BTA will research designs for bus stops and bike lanes that minimize conflict in areas of bike/bus congestion. TriMet will look at developing a pilot project to design new bus stops with a focus on both pedestrian and bike safety along bike/bus routes.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is a statewide non-profit organization that works to open minds and roads to bicycling. We represent bicyclists and the bicycle industry with over 5000 members in Oregon and SW Washington, and have seventeen years of experience in bicycle engineering, planning, education and advocacy.
BTA Contact: Karl Rohde, 503-226-0676 Ext. 12
TriMet Contact: Mary Fetsch, 503-962-6403
February 27, 2008
Read the whole thing here.
Nearly seven months after a highway bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, a federal commission put a jaw-dropping price tag on starting to attend to America’s crumbling foundations: $225 billion a year for the next 50 years just to maintain and upgrade surface transportation.
February 26, 2008
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2008 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Erkki Timmerbacka, Senior Consultant, Establish United Logistics Group (Finland Oy)
Topic: Sustainable Urban Logistics (SeuLo)
When: Friday, February 29, 2008, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
February 25, 2008
The Daily Journal of Commerce has a nice article on Tad Savinar's efforts to tailor the urban design of the transit mall block-by-block to the needs of the local land uses. I blogged about this more than a year ago.
February 21, 2008
The latest informational update from the CRC mentions that the governors of both of the affected states have officially committed to building a new bridge across the Columbia. Additionally, the DEIS will be released in March on a date yet to be determined and, at the bottom of this post, some information and links about the tolling plan under consideration.
Washington and Oregon governors make commitment to CRC project
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire announced a bi-state commitment to replacing the I-5 bridge that connects Vancouver and Portland during a January tour of the bridge.
“We only have two choices. Do nothing and watch our economy sink, or invest in a multi-modal solution that strengthens our economy and enhances this region’s quality of life,” said Kulongoski.
Gregoire said neither state can afford to do nothing while the problem continues to grow.
“Delays are intolerable, as are potential dangers to public safety,” she said. “We need to find solutions, and find them soon.”
Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be released in March
The Columbia River Crossing project will reach a major milestone next month when it releases its analysis of the environmental and community effects associated with each of five alternatives.
The following issues will be addressed in the Draft EIS:
- Public transit (route, stations, and park and ride locations)
- Freight improvements for connections and safety
- Traffic efficiencies (such as ramp meters, incident response, ridesharing and telecommuting)
- Pedestrian and bicycle improvements
- Effects to air, soil, water, wildlife and noise
- Cultural and historical resource protection
- Bridge type, appearance, and alignment
During the public comment period, the project will host two public hearings to allow people to give input. Comments also will be accepted by e-mail and mail. All comments received during this time are considered and responded to in the Final EIS.
The alternatives under consideration include:
- No build (included for comparison purposes)
- Replacement bridge with bus rapid transit
- Replacement bridge with light rail
- Supplemental bridge with bus rapid transit
- Supplemental bridge with light rail
The exact publication date for the Draft EIS and the schedule of public hearings will be identified in late February.
Bridge tolls part of finance plans
Finance plans for the Columbia River Crossing project currently assume that the I-5 bridge will be tolled using the latest electronic tolling technology. Additional funding will come from federal, state and regional sources.
The toll amount has yet to be decided. More information is needed on the total cost of the chosen alternative and available revenue. However, project staff analyzed the four Draft EIS build alternatives assuming a one-way toll ranging between $1 and $2.50 in 2006 dollars (or $1.31 - $3.28 in 2017, the year the bridge is expected to open).
CRC is assuming the use of an electronic toll collection system so that toll booths and traffic slow downs can be avoided. Such technology is currently being used at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington.
More information about the project’s tolling plans can be found in the project’s Tolling fact sheet.
The cat's out of the bag now. The transit tool we've been recruiting beta testers for is Clever Commute, which I posted about last month. It's a peer-to-peer information sharing tool, by which transit users can inform each other about up-to-the-minute conditions. They are evaluating Portland for expansion of their service to the West Coast and Portland Transport is helping with local contacts and by recruiting testers.
We've got a core group of beta-testers, but we'd like to expand it. To join the test, go to www.clevercommute.com and click 'find your line'.
On the page that comes up, select Portland as your region and Light Rail / PATH as your provider type. You should then see the Blue Line as an option. Select it and fill out the rest of the form.
We'll look forward to your feedback.
February 20, 2008
The Columbia River Crossing project has plans to meet with many neighborhood association and community groups after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is released to give an overview of the information and conclusions contained. These meetings will provide community members with an opportunity to discuss the contents of the document before submitting comments.
The schedule of upcoming meetings can be found on the CRC Web site.
The community meetings that are scheduled for the next two weeks include:
- 2/20/2008 12:00-1:00 PM, Rotary Club, Longview Chapter, at Monticello Hotel
- 2/21/2008 7:00-9:00 PM, Arnada Neighborhood Association at Vancouver Housing Authority
- 2/28/2008 5:30-6:30 PM, C-Tran Citizens Advisory Committee at C-Tran
- 3/6/2008 7:00-9:00 PM, Shumway Neighborhood Association at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
Columbia River Crossing contact information
Mail: 700 Washington St, Suite 300
Vancouver, WA 98660
Phone: 360-737-2726 or 503-256-2726
February 19, 2008
A few weeks ago we posted a link to a video of the Eugene EmX bus rapid transit line. Today, courtesy of Streetsblog, we have a seven-minute video of a much more expansive BRT system, the TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia. During peak hours their control center coordinates up to 1,000 buses an hour. This is an interesting video to watch and gives us pictures of a mature and efficient BRT operation serving a large city.
Want to learn more about Bus Rapid Transit? Watch this StreetFilm and let Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek show you how BRT works in Bogotá, Colombia. Take a gander and you’ll see an efficient, modern and — relatively speaking — inexpensive way of moving 1.3 million people per day.
In Bogotá, where the BRT system goes by the much more sexy name, TransMilenio, you’ll travel almost three times the speed of the typical New York City bus. The average TransMilenio vehicle travels at 17.4 mph. In New York City, buses poke along at 6.2 mph. Some TransMilenio routes average nearly 25 mph!
February 18, 2008
Portland has been trying to tie itself together across the Willamette River for a long time. East Portland, Albina, Sellwood and St Johns were separate cities until voters approved mergers in the years between 1890 and 1915. Geography drives this...its tough to expand to the west over mountain range with heights over 1,000 feet and only a handful of passes (Cornell Rd., Burnside, Canyon Rd., Slavin Rd). But the River is a challenge as well...wide, deep and swift...only Pittsburgh comes to mind when I try to think of American cities that span large rivers (OK, New York too), and the model of how to do this is Frankfurt am Main...but more of that later. To make matters worse, to get anywhere on the opposite side of the Willamette in Portland, there is not just the River, but also a freeway and a rail line that makes the crossing feel twice as long.
Things started with the bridges of course, but the first effort to establish a "second downtown" or to extend the City's downtown to the eastside was Ralph Lloyd's vision. A wealthy California oilman, he started buying property on the inner NE side, proposing in the 20's a grand hotel. The Depression killed that, but later a plan was hatched for a new civic center, which also came to nothing. The first "stake" on the eastside was Memorial Coliseum, approved by voters in the 50's, and sited by City Council in the South Auditorium Urban Renewal Area (more accurately Negro Removal Area). Voters rebelled and moved it across the river (it became the City's second Negro Removal Area, which was later followed by "I-5" and Emmanuel Hosp. "NRAs"...read more about all this in E. Kimbark MacColl's The Growth of a City).
In 1961 the Lloyd Center Mall opened, offering drive-in shopping and a hotel right off the new Banfield Expressway; downtown retail began to shrink as it was more of an "us & them" in those days than a "we." In the years since, the Lloyd District has added a few high-rise office towers, public agencies (State Office Building and Metro followed the BPA). More pieces were added in the 80's...MAX, the Convention Center and in the 90's the Rose Garden, but its been a long slow process...unlike the almost overnight creation of the Pearl District and so far, South Waterfront.
Will the Eastside Streetcar Loop "close the deal?" Maybe. A lot of "smart money" is betting it will, but there are huge barriers to really tying this town together. First the River...we can't do much there, but we can improve the approach from the westside by removing the floodwall and replacing it with a sloping lawn/meadow, so at least you can see that there is a river there. The new "improved" Naito Parkway, is actually worse for ped access than the old version due to wider pavement thanks to the so called "freight interests."
But the real barrier is that once across the River, you are only half way there, you still have the freeway and railroad to cross, a substantial distance if you are on foot. The Eastbank freeway (along with the Marquam Bridge) was a mistake that even the head of the Oregon Transportation Commission recognized the day it was done. (Vancouver...beware of a massive freeway/bridge right next door you may live to regret.) It covers the most valuable land in the City, devalues the second most valuable...on the westbank... cuts east side residents off from the River, and offers westside residents who venture to the River a trashed view...the Marquam approaches cutting through the center of Mt. Hood. Views are valuable, and we have sacrificed many to save someone passing through five minutes.
The only benefit of I-5 along the River is that it keeps the Central Eastside cheap and gritty when combined with the UPRR mainline and the approaches to the bridges, and there is something to be said for that. And assuming that in my lifetime we will never have to two sides of the River within reasonable walking distance of each other, the Streetcar becomes the key...a walk surrogate. It really does go faster than a walk...I ran the other day pretty hard for several blocks in a race to the next stop...it was a tie. Adding Streetcar to the Broadway, and later Burnside Bridges will bring the two sides that much closer; it may be that the Hawthorne Bridge might be better in this regard than the eventual light rail bridge further south, as it would link already active areas on both east and west sides.
So we have an urban fabric that has a huge tear...a river, a freeway, and a rail line...that can't be sewn with walkable stitch, though we are due for a world-class pedestrian bridge. Streetcar has demonstrated its ability to weave together urban fabric from NW to SoWa, so it’s worth a shot across the River.
February 16, 2008
A January 24th article in the Columbian hints at an unusual possibility for collecting tolls on a new bridge:
No tollbooths would be built. Instead, electronic transponders in each car would collect tolls. One-time users - tourists, for example - would be notified of the impending toll through signs on I-5 approaching the bridge and could buy toll cards at stores along the way.
In an earlier discussion here on PortlandTransport, commenter "lurker b" duly noted that the preliminary maps showing large and complex interchanges do not seem to include room for a toll plaza.
I've run this idea informally past a few friends, and the response curve was a bit narrow, ranging from shock and dismay on the mild end, to outrage on the intense end. But then that may just be reflective of my friends.
Speaking personally as someone who crosses the Columbia less than one day a month on average, I would not be likely to buy a permanent transponder. I would be quite happy to divert to a wayside toll booth and hand over some cash or swipe a credit card, but being forced to leave the freeway entirely, park, purchase a single-use pass at a store, get back on the freeway, etc. (or remember to stock up in advance) seems like an unprecedented break from tolling practice elsewhere.
Has this been tried in any metro area (especially in any region with a minimal set of facilities which are tolled)? What has been the public response in such scenarios?
February 14, 2008
Juveniles acting out on TriMet headed for booking
Starting March 1, juveniles who commit misdemeanors on buses and Max trains will be booked and detained for up to 36 hours at the Multnomah County juvenile court facility, authorities said Thursday.
TriMet is adding more officers to patrol the system. Five will be added on the west side and officials are still in discussions regarding how many will be added to the east side.
The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (ibpi) is sponsoring an upcoming professional development course on intersection design.
This course, developed and taught by engineers for engineers, teaches participants how to design intersections that provide safety and mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians. Participants will learn the principles and process of good intersection design for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, understand the relevant policies and standards, and learn how to apply them in a variety of settings, including retrofits of existing conditions and design of new facilities. Specific topics will include:
• Characteristics of bicyclist and pedestrian movement at intersections;
• Problem identification;
• Applicable policies and standards for design, including benefits and drawbacks for each mode of travel;
• Intersection treatment and design options;
• Selection and evaluation process for traffic control treatments at intersections;
• Design principles for bicycle and pedestrian movement, safety, and comfort;
• Key safety issues for bicyclists and pedestrians at intersections.
The course will include discussion of specific needs of bicyclists and pedestrians at intersections, and will feature a selection of intersection treatment innovations from abroad.
Thursday: Classroom instruction and discussion, application of course content through problem-solving and case studies, and a brief walking tour of facilities.
Friday: Bicycle field tour and discussion of intersection facilities in the Portland area. (Bike rentals available; see registration form.)
Who should attend?
Transportation engineers and technical planners responsible for intersection planning, design, and retrofit on public roadways.
PETER KOONCE, PE, is a transportation engineer and Technical Services Leader with Kittelson & Associates, Inc. He is an adjunct professor at Portland State University and has taught short courses for the University of Washington. He currently manages the development of the Federal Highway Administration's Traffic Signal Timing Manual – a multimodal approach to signal timing with a focus on integrating policy and engineering decisions.
ROB BURCHFIELD, PE, is the City Traffic Engineer for the Portland Office of Transportation. He has 25 years of experience and has worked extensively with the design and operation of urban streets for bicycles and pedestrians.
JAMIE PARKS is a transportation planner with Kittelson & Associates who works closely with engineers to develop appropriate non-motorized transportation solutions. He is developing tools to measure the safety and suitability of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and is participating in the development of the multi-modal chapters of the 2010 Highway Capacity Manual.
This course is sponsored by the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (ibpi). The IBPI’s purpose is to enhance policies, programs, and projects that promote pedestrian and bicycle travel through research, education, and outreach.
For more information
Contact the IBPI at 503-725-4024 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax to 503-725-8480
The fee for this professional development course is $395. This includes morning coffee, snacks, lunch, and course materials. The fee does not include bike rental, travel, lodging, or other meals while in Portland. To register for the program please use the form and fax or mail it in to our office. Registration deadline is APRIL 10, 2008.
Full information about the course can be found here: http://ibpi.usp.pdx.edu/intersectiondesign.php
And the registration form can be downloaded here: http://ibpi.usp.pdx.edu/media/Intersection Design.pdf
Office Specialist II
Portland State University
Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI)
Center for Transportation Studies - Suite 320
Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning
506 SW Mill Street, Portland, OR 97201
PO Box 751, 97207-0751
Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning (USP)
Director, Center for Transportation Studies
Assistant Director, Center for Urban Studies
Portland State University
web site: http://web.pdx.edu/~jdill/
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751
506 SW Mill Street
370T Urban Center
Portland, OR 97201
February 13, 2008
... to beta-test a new transit information tool. MAX riders preferred.
Contact me at email@example.com.
February 12, 2008
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Winter 2008 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Marc Guichard, Metro
Topic: Where the Rubber Leaves the Road: A Snapshot of Two Current Efforts to Manage Parking Issues in Regional Centers
When: Friday, February 15, 2008, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center
February 11, 2008
From the New York Times, the loss of natural ecosystems on land used to grow biomass may outweigh the benefits of biofuels in reducing greenhouse gases.
February 8, 2008
Metro has posted the Environmental Assessment documents for the proposed Eastside Loop Streetcar expansion.
A public comment period is now in process: "A 30-day public comment period began with the release of the environmental assessment Feb. 8, 2008. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 10, 2008."
Check out the Metro web site for the Environmental Assessment documents and for information on various public comment opportunities.
Here's a great article from the Pioneer Press in Minneapolis/St. Paul that talks about how the FTA calculates a Cost Effectiveness Index for transit projects.
The Streetcar Loop is going through the same process and is subject to the same 23.99 magic number. Our problem is that every time we submit data that gets us under the magic number, they tweak the model and put us back over.
And the games go on...
February 7, 2008
In the evening of February 25, Oliver Jones will speak at Metro as part of the Transportation Speaker Series.
Metro Council Chamber, 7:30pm
This event is free and open to the public
About Oliver Jones -
Oliver Jones is a former UK Senior Civil Servant. Having graduated from Cambridge University in England, he started his career with the Department for Trade and Industry. From 2000 to 2003 he worked in 10 Downing Street as an advisor in Prime Minister Blair's Policy Directorate. He then moved to the UK Treasury, where he led the team conducting Sir Rod Eddington's (former British Airways CEO) landmark study into the future of the UK transport system. For the last year he has been head of the Board Support Division at the UK Department for Transport, leading on transport strategy development. He is traveling in the US with Josie, his wife of three weeks.
About the Eddington Report -
Tony Blair's government asked Sir Rod Eddington to advise them on the long-term links between transport and the UK's economic productivity, growth and stability, within the context of the government's commitment to sustainable development.
The report was based on extensive research and analysis and reaches some interesting recommendations about priorities for transportation investments in Britain, especially in congested urban areas and international gateways.
Sir Rod Eddington had a small team to assist him with the research and report, including Oliver Jones, then with the UK Ministry of the Treasury. The Eddington Transport Study was published 13 months ago.
The executive summary can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/162259/187604/206711/executivesummary
February 6, 2008
Listen to the show (mp3, 19.6M)
This month on the KBOO Bike show, Joe Kurmaski, aka the Metal Cowboy, aka Adventure Dad, will be on air with his kids to talk about their cross-country bicycle trip as a family. Joe will also talk about his plans for Camp Creative, a Portland summer camp for kids and families that is striving to make sure kids are engaged in the world around them - not just the TV in front of them. MORE INFO: MetalCowboy.com
We'll also talk about upcoming events you don't want to miss like the Worst Day of the Year Ride and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
February 5, 2008
Metroblogging Portland pointed out an article in today's Oregonian about the constraints a new bridge design will face when it comes to elevation and appearance:
Vertical constraints for a new Columbia span could mean a simple, flat design
Some of the region's political leaders have said yes. They want a new Interstate 5 span not only to cross the Columbia River, connecting Portland and Vancouver, but also to be worthy of a postcard, showcasing a world-famous river at the border of two states bent on sustainability. Perhaps it could soar like Portland's Fremont Bridge or even San Francisco's Golden Gate.
But under the first round of plans, the new bridge will be a flat concrete slab.
The article goes into detail about the reasons why the bridge must be constrained to a narrow 75' band of airspace. But one thing not given significant mention is an issue of cost: Would removal of those constraints result in a less expensive structure? Would alternative span designs with more visual impact cost more or less than current plans?
Of course, no matter what kind of bridge they build, it couldn't possibly be as plain and ordinary as the transition along I-5 between Oregon and California. :-)
February 4, 2008
Apparently the OMB relented - the Portland Streetcar Loop appears in the President's budget as a $50M line item (the remaining $25M would be in the following year's budget).
Avoiding a Congressional battle to get this funding means the project can get started that much sooner!
Those of you who follow local news may have noticed that my new project is progressing to the next phase :-)
As a result I'm going to have less time for blogging here. I'm delighted that a number of folks have stepped up to be contributors for Portland Transport, but we could use a few more to make sure we have something to talk about every day.
The other thing that is suffering is the calendar. Unless we have a few more people step up to keep the calendar updated, we'll probably drop it from the site.