July 31, 2008
Per the Oregonian. A definite change in direction...
July 30, 2008
There's a great post over at PriceTags on what it took to make automobiles acceptable (then dominant of course) on our streets.
What will it take to make our culture accept bikes, walking and transit in the same way? What can we proactively do to start this shift in thinking?
July 29, 2008
I have no idea... can someone help?
Where can I find information on any areas in the U.S. that have underground high speed lines for Union Pacific?
July 28, 2008
Metro and TriMet are embarking on a study of where High Capacity Transit should go in the next 30 years. From Metro:
Public Workshops: Metro begins process to identify next 30 years of high capacity transit projects - 8/12, 8/13 & 8/14/08 (top)
The Portland metropolitan region is home to a pioneering transit system. Over thirty years ago, the region decided to grow differently than other cities when elected leaders and citizens rallied against construction of freeways through developed neighborhoods and instead directed resources to a light rail project along I-84. Since then, the region has constructed 44 miles of light rail (the Blue, Red and Yellow lines). An additional 6.5 miles of light rail (Green line) and 14.7 miles of commuter rail (WES) are currently under construction. These lines connect the far reaches of the urban area from Hillsboro to Gresham and from north Portland to Clackamas, and to many neighborhoods in between.
Metro is launching a study to consider where the next 30 years of high capacity transit investments should go. High capacity transit is characterized by routes with fewer stops and some separation from regular traffic and could mean light rail, commuter rail, streetcar or buses on a dedicated right of way. Metro, the agency responsible for regional planning, will complete the Regional High Capacity Transit Plan along with TriMet, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the 25 cities and three counties in the region. The plan will be closely coordinated with the City of Portland's Streetcar System Plan.
In planning for future high capacity transit routes, we're not starting from scratch but building on a legacy of planning work that is captured in the 2040 Growth Concept and the Regional Transportation Plan. The 2040 Growth Concept, adopted in 1995 after an extensive public engagement process, calls for high capacity transit service to regional centers like Oregon City and town centers such as Tualatin. The Regional Transportation Plan, updated every four years, identifies potential high capacity transit corridors that will serve as the starting point for this planning effort.
The High Capacity Transit System Plan will provide the region with a prioritized set of corridors based on planned land uses, community values and potential ridership. The plan will be adopted by the Metro Council in spring 2009 after review by community members, elected officials and technical staff from around the region.
Attend a workshop to learn more about the project and provide input about what areas should be served with high capacity transit in the future.
5-8 p.m. Tuesday, August 12
Walters Cultural Arts Center
527 East Main Street, Hillsboro
5-8 p.m. Wednesday, August 13
Oregon City Pioneer Center
615 5th Street, Oregon City
5-8 p.m. Thursday, August 14
East Portland Community Center
740 SE 106th Ave, Portland
To learn more about the project or get on the mailing list, call 503 -797-1755, send an e-
mail to email@example.com, or visit the project web site at
July 25, 2008
Great news for pedestrians everywhere! Google has added walking directions along side driving directions and transit trip planning.
July 24, 2008
As expected, the SW Washington Regional Transportation Commission became the final local government to endorse the Columbia River Crossing Locally Preferred Alternative.
In their endorsement they included a recommendation that tolling ONLY be used to pay for construction, NOT as a demand management tool.
This puts the RTC squarely opposite the recommendation on Portland and Metro which want tolls as a way to manage demand in the corridor.
Where and when do we imagine these conflicting views will get reconciled?
July 23, 2008
The Oregonian covers a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council that puts Oregon 35th on the list of states most impacted by gas prices.
According to the report, the average Oregon resident spent 4.8 percent of his or her income on gasoline in 2007. That was one of the lowest in the nation, placing Oregon at No. 35 on a list where 50th is best. By contrast, residents in the worst state, Mississippi, spent 7.8 percent of their income on gasoline.
"As was the case last year, the hardest-hit states are in the South,'' the report said, noting that "as oil prices go up, citizens in the vulnerable states feel the pinch more.''
I don't see any mention in the report of the difference between urban and rural Oregon, which I would think must be immense.
July 22, 2008
There's one more body that has yet to vote on the Columbia River Crossing Locally Preferred Alternative. If you want to get your licks in one last time:
The Southwest Washington RTC meets on July 22, at 4 pm at Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 W. Franklin, 6th Floor, Vancouver, WA.
Also you can email individual commissioners:
Paul Pearce: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Coston: email@example.com
Bill Ganley: Ganley@city.battleground.wa.us
Brian Pringle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Royce Pollard: email@example.com
Jeff Hamm: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clark County Commissioners: email@example.com
or firstname.lastname@example.org, BettySue.email@example.com, Marc.Boldt@clark.wa.gov
July 21, 2008
What this really points to is latent demand for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs), which are street legal, small electric vehicles. When are we going to see a mass-market NEV?
July 16, 2008
A couple of local architects want to make sure the Columbia River Crossing doesn't turn into another flat slab bridge.
“We’re not trying to derail the project,” McCulloch said in an interview. “We think it should be pursued. The operative word is ‘enriching’ the process.”
Renderings of Columbia River Crossing show what McCulloch calls a “freeway going over the river. Our worry is we don’t want another Glenn Jackson Bridge.” The Glenn L. Jackson Memorial (I-205) Bridge spans the Columbia River east of the present Interstate 5 bridge.
July 15, 2008
A request from a reader:
This post recently came across the Couchsurfing.com forums:
I've heard that it is possible to get from Portland to
at least Seattle just by taking city & county buses -
have any of you done it?
I can see how to get from here to the north side of
Vancouver, WA / Clark county - then I'm confused until
Olympia. From Olympia, I'm pretty sure I understand how
to take buses & ferries onward to Port Angeles, WA /
Perhaps Portland Transport readers could help out (and perhaps, popularize the this method of travel)
July 11, 2008
Putting aside the ongoing CRC discussion for a few minutes, an article in Thursday's Oregonian briefly mentioned that the city of Oregon City has passed a resolution endorsing the Portland-Milwaukie light-rail line LPA that was chosen by the steering committee.
The resolution supports the Porter-Sherman Willamette River crossing, the Tillamook Branch alignment in Milwaukie and the Park Avenue terminus, which would provide better service to Clackamas County communities south of Milwaukie.
"What this plan says is that Oregon City is on the radar," said Mayor Alice Norris. "The next light-rail extension needs to come to Oregon City."
This is quite the reversal from ten years ago, when Clackamas County residents and officials couldn't have been paid enough to "allow" light-rail to be built on their land. Now, Milwaukie and even Vancouver are both behind the idea of bringing light-rail to their cities, and even more suburban cities and urbanized areas of the counties will be lining up in the near future asking when they're next. Oregon City is indeed squarely in the sights of not one but two future light-rail extensions: The Yellow Line (Milwaukie) and the Green Line (Clackamas). The Yellow Line will terminate seven miles north along 99E, while the Green Line will terminate eight miles north along I-205.
This raises an interesting question.
For those of us who've been paying attention for the last several years, we know that the next great light-rail expansions are rumored to be Powell and Barbur Blvds. Both of these projects are going to require massive capital investments due to the intensity of development along both of these state highways. By contrast, installing light-rail from Oak Grove to Oregon City might be a cakewalk.
One of the benefits touted by Vancouver officials about building light-rail in Clark County is that they'd only have to cross the river to tie in to a mature and expanding multi-billion dollar light-rail system spanning dozens of miles. Indeed, if transportation dollars are scarce (and they were even before the CRC gathered momentum), the light-rail expansions of the next two or three decades might consist primarily of new spur routes (i.e., Airport MAX) rather than entirely new routes (Westside MAX).
The questions that I pose to you are "where?" and "why there?" What potential spur routes could gain favor to the point of leapfrogging Barbur and Powell as the "next" expansion projects to follow Milwaukie and/or Vancouver? Or will Barbur and/or Powell prove high-priority enough to remain at the top of the list?
I know very well that investment in light-rail (for some, even it's continued operation) is controversial to many individuals, and I don't intend for this post to provide yet another forum for pro-rail vs. anti-rail (or pro-public transit vs. anti-public transit) commentary, as there are already more than enough venues catering to that discussion. In the near future we will have similar discussions about other transportation modes and where we need to be focusing our expansion/intensification efforts with respect to those modes. This time we will discuss light-rail expansion.
For purposes of this discussion, we are assuming that light-rail will be expanded in the future, but not at the cost of required investments in other parts of the transportation network (including but not limited to roads, bike lanes/boulevards, heavy rail, marine and air terminals, buses, and streetcar). I support a balanced transportation network and am not advocating that any light-rail expansion projects move forward that will create a situation that results in disinvestment in other parts of the transportation system by any agency. However, this is not a "pie-in-the-sky" scenario, either, where money is no object and reality is out the door. The question I ask you is really this: "To where does it make the most sense to expand the light-rail system next?" You can and should take land-use and density goals (not just current zoning and land uses) into consideration.
Is Ms. Norris being too optimistic about her city being "next," or is that actually the most likely scenario? Or is it more likely that the first extension to Oregon City is along I-205 (linking an Amtrak station to the airport in one shot)? If so, would you also want to extend that line all the way to Tualatin to link to WES?
From the Oregonian:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds that bridge planners did not adequately examine the potential for a bridge to induce sprawl, increase pollution and contaminate an aquifer that supplies Vancouver and Clark County's drinking water.
Among other things, the DEIS apparently fails to analyze whether they might be driving pilings into (and contaminating) the aquifer that supplies most of the drinking water for Clark County.
And here I was hung up on them overlooking induced demand...
July 10, 2008
Manufacturing should be completed by the end of the year, and the car running on Portland's streets sometime in Q1 '09 after thorough testing.
July 9, 2008
Ron Swaren is a regular commenter on Portland Transport.
Michael Barkoviak - June 9, 2008 5:50 AM
"President Bush signed a transportation bill that will help fund a high speed maglev train between Disneyland and Las Vegas. The initial $45M investment will be used for environmental studies to evaluate construction impact on one portion of the proposed maglev route.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., showed support of the project and said the maglev train "will safely and efficiently move people between southern California and Las Vegas."
As more nations begin to roll out maglev train systems, critics in the U.S. grow increasingly frustrated over the lack of support of organized high speed trains in the United States.
With speeds up to 300 MPH, the maglev train will be able to transport passengers between the two locations, about 250 miles apart, in less than two hours. Most drivers who go from the Los Angeles or Anaheim area to Las Vegas are forced to take Interstate 15, but the highway routinely is clogged with gridlock during rush hour.
Congress must now choose the maglev system over other train projects under consideration by the government, including a diesel-electric train that was proposed after a 2005 funding mishap that delayed the Disneyland-Las Vegas line. Japan was the first nation to launch a diesel-hybrid train system, but the train was twice as expensive to build as a regular train.
The United States Maglev Coalition (USMC) is an organization wanting to develop maglev technology in the U.S. The group helped the federal government fix a September 2005 report that "unfairly and erroneously criticized maglev's costs while ignoring its benefits."
Maglev trains are extremely expensive to create, so $45M could easily lead to a multi-billion dollar investment. The Shanghai maglev train network cost almost $30M per mile to create, and a proposed route in Japan is estimated to cost up to $82B to complete.
Germany, Canada, England, China and Japan are included in the small selection of countries that either have working maglev systems or are testing maglev technology."
Link to Daily Tech article:
Some YouTube videos:
Some people say that the US should just hang back and learn from the experimentation being conducted by other governments, as mentioned above. Critics of the LA-Las Vegas route question the propriety of investing public funds into what they consider an "entertainment express." There are, however, some proposals in the Northeast US for Mag Lev service.
Some cost projections run up to $30 million per mile for the specialized track. Acquiring right of way could add significant expense. What flaws will actual usage of the technology reveal?
Or would an alternative like the proposed California high speed train make more sense?
July 8, 2008
Over the next four years, we are likely to witness the greatest mass exodus of vehicles off America’s highways in history. By 2012, there should be some 10 million fewer vehicles on American roadways than there are today—a decline that dwarfs all previous adjustments including those during the two OPEC oil shocks (see pages 4-8). Many of those in the exit lane will be low income Americans from households earning less than $25,000 per year. Incredibly, over 10 million of those American households own more than one car.
Soon they won’t own any.
More fundamentally, the freeways are about to get less congested. Not only will the number of vehicle registrations in the United States not grow over the next four years, but by 2012 there should be roughly 10 million fewer vehicles on the road in America than there are today. For the past half century, America has spent the bulk of its infrastructure money on building highways—only to see that soon, $7 per gallon gasoline prices will lead to fewer and fewer people using them."
The CRC wouldn't even be open for business in four years, but this report predicts sweeping changes in even that short period of time. However, taken with all of the other information we have about the CRC and the region's future in particular, should we stop the project in it's tracks? Or, knowing that the cost of construction materials will only increase and that the region's population may close to double or even triple over the next 50 years (Metro projections of 3.2M to 6.2M residents in 2060 pdf), would it prove to be smarter and more forward-thinking if we just built the CRC now? Although experts may expect traffic to decrease over the next few years, at some point the overall growth in our region will cause traffic to eventually exceed present levels, so do we seize this opportunity (i.e., federal funding) to build the bridge now or deal with it later? Without the bridge, how long until we reach that point where traffic will again exceed present levels?
Personally, while I feel a 12-lane bridge is overkill for what is actually a four to six lane highway, I do believe that additional road capacity will be required in the future. The current gas crisis may allow us to put this off for awhile, but eventually we're going to need the capacity, if only for freight. Today I would still choose to save our resources for other, higher-priority projects (sorry, the 'couv, but this really isn't an important enough problem to warrant siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars away from other needed highway projects in Oregon). Ideally, we revisit this thing within five to ten years and look at a third bridge to replace the railroad crossing in North Portland and/or a fourth crossing in Troutdale. I know it's not a popular opinion here, but even with gas prices pushing $4.50 (and eventually much, much more), making room for 1.5 - 4 million new residents will inevitably mean additional road capacity, and new connections to Vancouver/east Clark County will do more for distributing that traffic than funneling everybody into the I-5 corridor.
Continue reading Report Predicts 'Mass Exodus of Vehicles off America's Highways'
Light Rail would extend as far as Clark College.
The vote for the Columbia River Crossing Locally Preferred Alternative was unanimous.
It's time to let Portland City Council know how YOU feel about the Columbia River Crossing proposal.
Onward Oregon has an action page you can use to e-mail all members of Portland City Council (even if you favor the project you can use this page, you just have to tailor the message).
July 7, 2008
Congestion, even with the CRC, will be worse in 2030 than it is today.
And the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter will get worse.
Of course, supporters will say that without the new bridge, congestion would be even worse in 2030.
But that misses the key points:
- We can't build our way out of this problem
- We have to manage how we use the capacity we have
- It's about the system, not any individual link
- Congestion is self-limiting. At some point people make other choices.
I couldn't suppress a chuckle when reading the agenda (PDF, 32K) for the JPACT meeting coming up on Thursday.
The committee will not only vote on the LPA and RTP amendment for the Columbia River Crossing, but they will also vote on an RTP amendment "to Reduce the ODOT Region 1 Modernization Program".
In transportation-speak, "modernization" means highway expansion. Because counties are so strapped for transportation dollars, the last Legislature tweaked the gas tax distribution formula to give a little more money to counties and take it from ODOT's expansion programs.
This pretty clearly makes the point that the gas tax is a zero sum game.
I think this is relevant to CRC, because the CRC funding plan (as much of one as there is - it would fit on the back of a napkin) assumes that the State of Oregon will come up with about $700M for the project. The only place the Legislature is going to find that kind of money is from a gas tax increase (bonded for a LONG time). And given the difficulty in raising the gas tax, and the dire maintenance needs around the state, it's perfectly clear to me that any increase in gas tax for the CRC is an increase in gas tax that's NOT going to fund other important needs (think Sellwood Bridge).
Let's disabuse ourselves of the notion that the CRC is going to be funded by some giant pot of money dropping from the sky. It's going to come out of the hide of other important priorities in our region and our state.
BTW - what's getting cut from "modernization"? Most of the $26M in cuts will come from $14M saved by delaying or canceling (I can't tell which from the agenda materials) the expansion of Highway 26 from 4 to 6 lanes between 185th and Cornell. Now I wonder which Washington County wants more - the Sunset widening or the CRC?
July 3, 2008
The Portland Mercury is reporting that Commissioner Dan Saltzman is shopping the idea of withholding Council support for the Columbia River Crossing Locally Preferred Alternative until the independent analyses that both the Portland City Council and Metro Council have requested are complete.
Apparently it's dawning on these guys that once they approve the LPA they may never get another bite at this thing regardless of what any additional analysis may say.
July 2, 2008
Listen to the show (mp3, 12.8 MB)
Tori and Carl talk with Chris DeStefano (PDX Mountain Bike Association), Shanti Ware (PUMP) and Jill Van Winkle (IMBA) about moutain biking in and around Portland, including the development of trails in Forest Park.
While everyone is (justifiably) focused on the Locally Preferred Alternative decision for the Columbia River Crossing, a correspondent points out that another decision related to the project is being rushed through.
The required amendment to add the CRC to the Regional Transportation Plan is now in the pipeline. It was pushed through TPAC last Friday with very little notice, and will now go to JPACT on its way to the Metro Council with amendments expected along the way.
But... as a major modification to the Regional Transportation Plan, isn't this supposed to have a public comment period? It does not appear that one has been scheduled.
July 1, 2008
Yesterday, Representative Earl Blumenaur announced legislation proposing greater operations funding for transit agencies and a variety of incentives to help people shift to non-auto modes, including extending tax breaks for commuting choices to the self-employed.