May 29, 2009
The Business Journal is reporting that the transportation bill passed the Senate by a comfortable 24-6 vote (18 votes were required).
The Governor will certainly sign it.
May 28, 2009
That's how many streetcars Oregon Iron Works now has orders for.
In addition to six vehicles for Portland's Streetcar Loop, OIW has just received an order for seven streetcars from Tuscon!
Not that I didn't respect her a lot before...
Nolan (from Portland), the Oregon House Majority Leader, parted company with House Speaker Dave Hunt and voted against the Transportation bill. The bill passed anyway 38-22 (because it raises taxes, it needed a 36 vote super-majority to pass) (and somehow I suspect that if she had been vote number 36, Nolan might have voted in favor).
Other Legislators on the 'D' side of the House voting No were:
Ben Cannon, Portland
Brian Clem, Salem
Chris Harker, Beaverton
Jefferson Smith, Portland
The bill will now go on to the Senate. Meanwhile, Steve Duin skewers the #1 beneficiary of the bill, the Newberg-Dundee bypass, in his column today.
May 27, 2009
Host Sara and Beth will talk with Linda Ginenthal of PDOT and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder about Sunday Parkways, three events this summer that will transform over 7 miles of neighborhood streets into temporary parks, so we can enjoy walking, bicycling, roller blading and dancing in the street - without having to watch out for cars!
11AM-Noon, Wednesday, June 3rd
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
A group calling themselves the Transit Riders Union has organized a protest for 5pm today at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
More information on the group here.
May 26, 2009
In a word - Maintenance. The City of Portland, as one example, would see about a 40% increase in gas tax revenue available to fix potholes and rebuild streets that are too far gone for routine maintenance.
As one transportation official told me, this would "stop the bleeding". The bleeding in this case being the $9-10M by which Portland's road maintenance backlog grows each year. It would probably NOT be enough however to make significant progress in reducing the backlog.
At the County level, the bill would provide mechanisms (registration fee increases) that, coupled with the increased gas tax revenue, would let Multnomah and Clackamas Counties assemble funding for the Sellwood Bridge replacement (with Portland's help).
So the local folks who understand the very negative greenhouse gas impacts of the bill are likely to do little more than mutter under their breath.
At the same time Democratic House leadership is strong-arming pro-environment Portland-area legislators over this bill. Freshman legislator Jules Kopel Baily, who ran on a strong environment platform, voted for the bill in committee. And he is not the only pro-environment legislator who has indicated probable support for the bill.
On the side of the good guys, Onward Oregon has joined the list of organizations calling for restoration of modal balance to the bill.
Peter Furth from Northeastern is visiting PSU this week, leading to a couple of extra Transportation Seminars:
Speaker: Peter Furth
Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University
Topic: Aggressive Signal Priority with Compensation: Maximizing the Transit Benefit Without Disrupting Traffic
When: Tuesday, May 26, 12:00 - 1:00
Where: ITS Lab (Room 315 in the Engineering Building)
Speaker: Peter Furth
Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University
Topic: Cycle Tracks and Bicycle Priority Lanes: More Tools to Serve Traffic Intolerant Riders
When: Wednesday, May 27, 12:00 - 1:00
Where: ITS Lab (Room 315 in the Engineering Building)
Both are sponsored by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium Visiting Scholar Program.
May 22, 2009
TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch e-mailed me a few minutes ago with the photos you see here (click on the photos to view full-size, the thumbnails don't really do them justice) and the following statement:
Chris: We have selected a bridge architect with more than 40 years experience working on signature bridges including cable-stayed , suspension and hybrid bridges, and also bike and ped bridges. His work includes the Golden Gate Bridge, the Oakland Bay Bridge and others. I've included a link to his website.
We have two bridge designs on the table and I have attached pictures of each. Next week the WRBAC (Willamette River Bridge Advisory Committee) will weigh in on these two designs and by the end of June we will select one to move further into preliminary engineering.
We are still in contract negotiations but the architect selected is Donald MacDonald. http://www.donaldmacdonaldarchitects.com/bridges/bridges.html
Track Joe's latest updates as the bill is amended.
Original Post: 5/21/09
I blogged last night about the alarm bells going off over the transportation bill in the Legislature.
Local economist Joe Cortright has done an analysis of the earmarked road projects to look at who benefits, by county.
Everyone ready to watch the Sellwood Bridge fall into the river?
|County||Dollars earmarked||Dollars per resident|
Apparently I wasn't the only one to notice the insanity of both failing to fund the Sellwood Bridge AND removing the ability of the County to introduce a fee for doing so. The Oregonian reports that language has been inserted in the road-centric transportation bill to allow Clackamas and/or Multnomah Counties to have a registration fee for purposes of funding the Sellwood.
May 21, 2009
As if the box-girder Columbia River Crossing was not bad enough, Portland Architecture and several other blogs are reporting that TriMet will ignore the elegant modified cable-stay design by international designer Miguel Rosales in favor of a cheap and generic cable-stay alternative.
Maybe while Fred is in Australia he can take a look at the Opera House and get a lesson in what imaginative and inspiring design can do for a place.
Even I'll admit it's a bit over the top.
May 20, 2009
BTA (which cancelled its ride to Salem in support of the package), 1000 Friends and others have sent out alerts today about HB 2001, the Governor's transportation package. From the 1000 Friends alert:
Unfortunately, the transportation package, House Bill 2001, that recently emerged from behind closed doors has lost its balance - it has become a highways bill, dominated by an $840 million list of road building projects divorced from any unified transportation or economic development strategy to relieve freight bottlenecks or strengthen the state or local economies. It specifically earmarks scarce dollars to build massive highway projects that will increase sprawl, traffic, and increase transportation-generated greenhouse gasses.
Call your Representative and Senator now.
From Proterra's web site:
Based in Golden, Colorado, Proterra manufactures the world's first hybrid- and all-electric, all-composite body transit vehicles built from the ground up to offer dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency while generating ultra-low or no emissions. Proterra offers all-battery and battery dominant vehicles using an array of auxiliary power units, including bio-diesel, gasoline, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells.
"Proterra's mission is producing the world's most energy efficient transit vehicles while offering the lowest lifetime cost of ownership," said President Jeff Granato. "Our vehicles are the right choice for these times of skyrocketing fuel costs and economic uncertainty.
May 19, 2009
Apparently our New Urbanism is "metastasizing" to the rest of the country, according to Will.
Update:This morning's Oregonian Article (unavailable when this post was first written) indicates that Fred's Australian gig is temporary, volunteer work, and that he intends to remain with TriMet. (Thanks to commenters and someone who contacted me privately about this.)
A local transit blogger and light rail operator, PDXTrains, has received a tip:
TriMet's Fred Hansen, according to Australian press reports, has accepted the position of "thinker-in-residence" regarding transit for South Australia. The position is stated to begin in October.
The articles I could find don't specifically mention Fred's resignation from TriMet, or a move to Australia, but the job title's "in-residence" suggests both. No word yet from local news sources.
Thinker In Residence Fred Hansen to ponder Adelaide transport
- Adelaide Independent Weekly:
US public transport expert to help Adelaide's development
- ABC Online:
New Thinker for SA
Via the Mercury Blogtown.
Are 12-lane Columbia River Crossing supporters finally admitting that their ambitions are unrealistic? An interview in the Columbian with Don Wagner may be the first signal:
"Just like most of us in the real world, we dream about the car we want," Wagner said in a wide-ranging interview last week. "And at some point, stark reality says, 'Huh. I dream about it, but I don't have quite enough money to get it all today. Maybe I need to take off a few of the options off of this car.' And we are starting those conversations right now."
I'm not popping any champagne corks yet, but...
May 18, 2009
Tell Congress: "My commute sucks and it's not getting any better. Stop pouring billions into a broken system. Transportation shouldn't be an expensive, dirty burden. Fix it, clean it, make it work!"
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2009 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Michael Ward
Public Transit Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Transportation
Topic: How Public Transportation is Financed in Oregon
When: Friday, May 22, 2009, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
May 15, 2009
Here's video I shot of this morning's delivery of the first streetcar from United Streetcar, LLC. The entire process took about two hours, edited here to just six minutes.
(Update: A higher-quality version hosted by Vimeo is available after the break.)
At about 6:40 this morning the first made-in-USA modern streetcar in a half century was being lined up on the wash track at the Portland Streetcar maintenance facility, and was being positioned under a portable crane for unloading!
More photos after the jump...
May 14, 2009
A few days ago, in a less-than-lofty debate amongst commenters on the KATU web site, a pseudononymous individual mentioned that the Transit Mall's shelters would be completed in December.
(I have noticed, through regular observations, that one new transit shelter has had a roof, perhaps as a demonstration, for several months, but no others have roofs or wind screens. The mall reopens to buses in less than two weeks.)
Given the fact that some have suggested that it is rumored that rain may be detected in Oregon in the months May-December, I asked Mary Fetsch, TriMet spokesperson, for clarification.
I am told that shelter installation will continue starting right after the Rose Festival and be completed in August.
(Back during the debate over Transit Mall shelter design, of which I was an advocate for maintaining the original shelters, it was repeatedly pledged that the new shelters would provide a similar level of protection for riders (despite the fact that there would be a 50% reduction in shelters per transit rider in the central mall).)
Let's keep our fingers crossed that transit riders will not experience unscheduled rain, or will find convenient shelter under nearby private awnings.
"Tuesdays at APA" is a lecture series run out of the American Planning Association's Chicago office, and this week's podcast of the series features a great discussion of Streetcars (mp3, 15.8M), both vintage and modern types and the role they play in shaping communities.
There's a great description of the experience in Portland, with a great narrative on why developers invest near streetcars but not buses (not anything we haven't discussed here before, but articulated in a clear way).
The presentation slides are available here.
Today's Trib has an article about ramping up Streetcar manufacturing at Oregon Iron Works.
But the more immediate news is that the first prototype vehicle is due to be delivered to Portland Streetcar's maintenance facility (NW 16th and Northrup) TOMORROW MORNING at about 6AM. I hope to be there to get some photos.
Don't expect passengers on board for a while though. The vehicle will need hundreds of hours of burn in before revenue service (think 4th of July).
May 13, 2009
If we can't stop 'em in the real world, we'll out flank them in the virtual world!
A self-described "animator turned-urban-planning grad student" has created a nice description of induced demand illustrated in Google Earth (you'll need version 5.0):
Anyone up for an anti-CRC rally in Second Life?
LOS - Level of Service (I know it sounds geeky) is the primary way transportation planners evaluate the need for capacity. The problem is, the way it's measured is all about cars, which is what makes this presentation pretty interesting...
Portland State University Center for Transportation Studies Spring 2009 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Seleta J. Reynolds, AICP, Fehr & Peers/Mirai
Topic: Multi-Modal Level of Service: State of the Practice
When: Friday, May 15, 2009, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
May 12, 2009
From the NY Times, a suburb in Germany that has consciously created a car-free community.
It runs on bikes and trams (streetcars)!
Transportation for America has released its blueprint for reform in the next transportation authorization bill. The blueprint is titled "The Route to Reform: Blueprint for a 21st Century Federal Transportation Program" and includes four major planks:
- Articulate a National Vision, Objectives, and Performance Targets for the national transportation program and hold state and local transportation agencies accountable for demonstrable progress toward goals including safety, efficiency, environment, health and equity.
- Restructure and consolidate federal programs for greater modal integration, with a focus on completing the second half of the national transportation system, providing more transportation options for all Americans and creating seamless transportation systems that meet the unique needs and connect metropolitan regions, small towns, and rural areas.
- Empower states, regions, and cities with direct transportation funding and greater flexibility to select projects, using carrots and sticks to incentivize wise transportation investments and in return require demonstrated performance on meeting national objectives.
- Reform how we pay for the transportation system and create a Unified Transportation Trust Fund that would achieve balanced allocations of federal funds in a portfolio of rail, freight, highway, public transportation, and non-motorized transportation investments.
May 11, 2009
According to Pew research, cars are more of a necessity than TVs, cell phones, or pretty much any other major purchase.
Last week I rented an eZee Sprint for a three-day test ride.
I was trying to solve a specific problem. As some of you know, I live in NW Portland and commute occasionally to my employer's offices in Wilsonville. In recent years I've been primarily a telecommuter, at one point telecommuting 9 days out of 10.
But some new responsibilities now have me in the office 2-3 days per week.
My typical commute is a bike-bus combo, most often riding downtown, putting my bike on the #12 to Barbur Transit and then transferring to the Wilsonville SMART system which drops me at my employers door (the somewhat faster trip on the #96 has less convenient times and in good weather the bike racks are often full). But this commute takes longer than I would like if I'm doing it more than once a week.
So I'm looking for a better answer than borrowing my partner's hybrid...
I thought I could take out some of the transfer time (both downtown and at Barbur) by biking all the way to the transit center, timing my arrival to match that of the SMART bus. But one test trip at my slow uphill pace demonstrated that the trip was going to take more than an hour to the transit center.
So I thought an electric-assist bike might help. In fact, it did. The 350-watt eZee cut my trip time to the transit center in half, just over a half hour.
But... my lingering question is whether it's going to reduce the amount of exercise that I get. That throttle is awfully tempting - I keep pedaling, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought I was working nearly as hard as if I was doing all the work myself.
I would certainly keep my old Biria city bike, but I worry that I would use the electric more than I need to.
Does anyone have any experience at this trade-off? If so, how did it work out for you? Any active transportation experts out there? What's the view on this?
P.S. I want to give a shout out to Wakefield Gregg at EbikesNW who gave me great support on the test ride.
May 8, 2009
The first bike corral in my neighborhood in NW Portland was installed today in front of the Dragonfly Coffee House at NW Thurman and 24th...
(appologies for the cell-phone quality photos)
May 7, 2009
There are two open houses coming up for the 'refinement study' for the Lake Oswego Streetcar.
The refinement study is narrowing the options that will go into the final Environmental Impact Statement process. In particular both routing options through John's Landing and terminus options in Lake Oswego are being reviewed.
As we learned from the Columbia River Crossing, which options get into the final EIS process are critical. And since this study doesn't have a standing citizen advisory committee, the open houses are one of the critical opportunities for citizen review of the options.
5:30 to 7:30 pm, May 14th
368 S. State St., Lake Oswego
5:30 to 7:30 pm, May 19
Waterfront Foursquare Church/Easter Seals Building
5757 SW Macadam Ave., Portland
More details here.
The NY Times takes a look.
May 6, 2009
Listen to the show (mp3, 27.3MB)
Getting started: Learn to leave your car or the bus behind and start riding your bike more. Knowing how to ride a bike isn't the same as knowing how to commute on city streets. We talk with newly minted cyclists.
I was in yet another discussion on Friday where the topic arose that buses do more damage to our streets than any other vehicle, because their full weight falls on just four contact points.
Which has me wondering, what keeps bus manufacturers from putting more axles on a bus, like a semi-trailer? Would it have some adverse affect on the performance of the vehicle? Are there impacts on passengers? Turning radius? Or is this an untapped market opportunity?
May 5, 2009
My correspondent at Metro tells me that the Walk There guide is now available in an updated second edition, but is, unfortunately, no longer free. It is available for $9.95 from the Metro Data Resource Center and at local book stores.
Many of the walks are available as free downloadable PDFs from Metro's web site.
Original Post: 7/14/08
Taking a walk has taken on a new meaning these days. Metro has just released a book all about it. It's called "Walk There!", and it's a guide to 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver.
OK so walking is not new, but when you combine gorgeous summer weather with gas prices going through the roof, you can come up with lots of reasons to hit the streets. It's safe, it's healthy, it's good for the environment, and one of the easiest, most affective activities you can do to save money.
The 50 walks are indexed by city, and cover the entire region. There are five categories:
- Nature in Neighborhoods Walk- features parks, trails and scenic places close to home
- Power Walk- routes with longer distances and elevated terrain
- City Cruise- walks within city centers and commercial districts
- History Walk- learn about the region's rich history firsthand
- Lunchtime Stroll- walks are over level terrain, take about an hour and are suitable for people with mobility assistance devices or strollers
The book, which is free, was produced with funds from Kaiser Permanente. You can pick it up at Metro's Data Resource Center at 600 NE Grand Avenue, or order it online for a $5 shipping fee (www.oregonmetro.gov). It will be also be distributed through Kaiser health education classes, community walking events and other Kaiser programs. Or, hit the web, where you can download all 50 featured walks.
Regular commenter Ron Swaren sends along this alternate concept for the Columbia River Crossing:
The concept of a new Interstate Bridge in the Burlington Northern/AMTRAK corridor has been widely discussed both in Vancouver, WA political circles and in Portland, as an alternative to the Columbia River Crossing project. The idea was discussed, briefly, as the RC 14 alternative in the CRC's list of potential river crossings.
It would be about .8 miles downstream from the existing Interstate bridges, would eventually replace the existing rail bridge which has a large number of concrete piers and low clearance with a design with one large pier midstream with a recreational level accessible from bicycle and pedestrian pathways. The eventual removal of the railroad bridge would improve navigability in the dredged Columbia channel, which is located on the Washington side of the Columbia. It would allow commercial river traffic to easily line up with either the elevated portion of the remaining Interstate Bridges, or with the lift span when the need arises.
It would eliminate the s-turn presently required for much upstream barge traffic.
Rail traffic, including freight, commuter and interstate passenger, would be located on the lower level. Either four or six lanes for interstate traffic could be located on the upper level plus wide sidewalks for bicycles and pedestrians. The center pier would be accessed by stairways from the upper deck and would have sizable platforms both near the water and on the upper level. The double through arch design is reputed for seismic safety and can also have pendulum isolation bearings and/or lead-rubber bushings between the piers and the metal structure to further reduce any damage from earthquake.
It would be part of a route that in Washington State could connect to I-5 via Mill Plain Blvd, 78th street or a new connnection further north. It could also connect to Fruit Valley Highway. It would have an elevated crossing over Hayden Island in Oregon with on and off ramps to Tomahawk Island Drive and a span supported by an arch over the Portland Harbor. On the mainland it would follow North Portland Rd. to Columbia Boulevard. The rail portion would then continue southward to the existing rail crossing of the Willamette River. A highway route to NW Portland would follow west on Columbia Boulevard, cross the Willamette just south of Sauvies Island via a large, arch supported roadway and connect to Hwy 30 with on and off ramps. The route would continue south via Newberry Rd, to Skyline Rd, to NW Kaiser Rd and finally to Cornelius Pass Rd. Cornelius Pass Rd crosses US 26 several miles further south and enters the industrial area between Beaverton, OR and Hillsboro, OR called the Silicon Forest.
A commuter from downtown Vancouver to the interchange of US 26 and Cornelius Pass Rd would reduce his travel by five miles over a present route using I-5 and US 26 from downtown Portland. In Oregon the needed roadways are 95 percent in place already, but would require some straightening and widening. This does not need to be part of the US Interstate Highway system per se, but would connect several routes that now typically feed in to Interstate 5 in North Portland.
May 4, 2009
Last year, a production company was in town making a documentary on the Portland metro area's land use, planning, and public involvement processes.
The program, titled "Portland: Quest for the Livable City" (Press Release) is now complete and is set to air on OPB (not OPB HD), Sunday, May 10, at 1pm. (Look for "Making Sense of Place: Portland" in the online OPB schedule.
An extended trailer has been posted -- watch for a cameo (no dialogue) from Portland's own Jim Karlock around the 4:49 mark:
Yours Truly was also at that same meeting -- it was one of the early pubic open-houses for the Streetcar System Plan, this one at Grant High School. (Incidentally, the meeting was in the same band room where Mr. Holland's Opus was filmed.) Portland Transport regular Terry Parker was also present, as I recall -- it will be interesting to see how many of us, and what statements, are included in the final documentary.
Getting started: Learn to leave your car or the bus behind and start riding your bike more. Knowing how to ride a bike isn't the same as knowing how to commute on city streets. Hosts will interview people who started riding regularly in the last couple of years. Call with your questions and to share your personal story.
11AM-Noon, Wednesday, May 6th
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
Hey, I'm participating in a Bus Project/1000 Friends event on Thursday, highlighting better things we could do for the same price as the Columbia River Crossing. I hope I'll see some friendly Portland Transport faces there!
Brewhaha and CRC Letter-Writing at Roots on May 7
Brewhaha! Let's Make a Deal, Portland!
Roots Organic Brewery, 1520 SE 7th Ave., Portland
Thursday, May 7th
6:30pm - drinks and networking, 7pm - program begins
At 4 billion dollars the Columbia River Crossing's fantastic price tag sends a signal that anything is possible in Portland. Join us for a night of dialogue, democracy and drinks to debate our region's transportation future.
1000 Friends is organizing this evening game show style event, hosted by 1000 Friends Executive Director Bob Stacey, in association with The Bus Project, Transportation for America's town halls, and The Portland Mercury. We'll hear some about transportation funding and projects, have some fun, and spend an imaginary $4 billion in "Transpo-bucks". Speakers include CLF's very own Policy Director, Mara Gross, Chris Smith of portlandtransport.com, Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org, and Representative Nick Kahl.
Columbia River Crossing letter-writing session
Then, directly right after the Brewhaha program (around 8:00pm), CLF will be leading a Columbia River Crossing letter-writing session for those interested. We will be writing letters to our state legislators about Oregon's transportation priorities, including the need for a Climate Smart CRC that directly addresses our climate change goals, fiscal responsibility, and the livability of the communities around the 1-5 bridge corridor. The session is tentatively entitled, "Bigger is Not Better" or "Yo Leg, 12 Lanes is Wack."