May 27, 2010
Clearly an escape from the real world is required.
Seriously, there are several new applications making use of TriMet's open data, and a couple of them take an augmented reality approach. For example, you can point your camera phone at a bus stop and get an overlay of the next arrival time.
Very cool, but since the iPhone version requires the 3GS and I only have the lowly 3G, I have not yet been able to try it.
May 26, 2010
The "Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010" was introduced in the Senate yesterday. According to Transportation for America it will:
...authorize $2 billion for transit agencies nationwide to help close funding gaps in operating costs. Transit agencies can use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009 or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011. Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so may use the funds for infrastructure improvements.
T4America has an action page where you can encourage your Senators to support the bill.
If we can bail out Wall Street, bailing out transit seems more than fair!
May 25, 2010
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2010 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Joe Broach, PhD student, Urban Studies, Portland State University
Topic: Developing a Bicyclist Route Choice Model Using GPS Data
Abstract: Existing regional travel forecasting systems are not typically set up to forecast usage of bicycle infrastructure and are insensitive to bicyclists' route preferences in general. We collected revealed preference, GPS data on 162 bicyclists over the course of several days and coded the resulting trips to a highly detailed bicycle network model. We then use these data to estimate bicyclist route choice models. As part of this research, we developed a sophisticated choice set generation algorithm based on multiple permutations of labeled path attributes, which seems to out-perform comparable implementations of other route choice set generation algorithms. The model was formulated as a Path-Size Logit model to account for overlapping route alternatives. The estimation results show compelling intuitive elasticities for route choice attributes, including the effects of distance and delay; avoiding high-volumes of vehicular traffic, stops and turns, and elevation gain; and preferences for certain bike infrastructure types, particularly at bridge crossings and off-street paths. Estimation results also support segmentation by commute versus non-commute trip types, but are less clear when it comes to gender. The final model will be implemented as part of the regional travel forecasting system for Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
When: Friday, May 28, 2010, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
May 24, 2010
Randy Gragg takes on the Columbia River Crossing from the perspective of Hayden Island.
JK's take (PDF, 809K)
May 21, 2010
The letter is very diplomatic, but makes three points very firmly about the Columbia River Crossing:
- If you toll I-5, you better toll I-205, we don't want your damn congestion
- Keep the costs real and practical (and by implication the scope as well)
- Don't you dare soak up all the transportation funding in the region, we have needs too you know!
I could hug their whole Commission...
Dear Columbia River Crossing Review Board:
While Clackamas County has not been an official sponsor of the Columbia River Crossing project, we have followed the planning process closely. Last year, we supported the Locally Preferred Alternative, with one specific condition, that tolling be imposed on the I-205 Bridge at the same time it is implemented on the I-5 Bridge. The project analysis indicated that diversion from one bridge to another would be likely, which is a serious concern in our county.
We have urged the project team to view the Columbia River Crossing in the context of the larger regional highway and freight movement system. The businesses and industries in Clackamas County that depend on the highway system to move their goods to the airport and to the Port of Portland cannot afford additional congestion or decreased reliability on the I-205 as a result of an incomplete solution to the I-5 bridge replacement.
More than the tolling and diversion issue, however, the current status and approach of the project has caused Clackamas County to reconsider its support of the Columbia River Crossing as currently proposed. While we firmly believe that a bridge replacement is necessary, and that light rail and pedestrian/bike access are critical elements of a successful project, it appears to us that this project is beginning to collapse under the weight of unresolved community concerns and expectations.
Clackamas County has made great strides in approaching highway development by considering practical design, least cost planning, and phased system improvements. We urge the project sponsors to consider applying some of these nationally recognized approaches to the Columbia River Crossing project to determine appropriate solutions and funding strategies. We have recognized that the funding and development strategies of previous generations are obsolete. Between evolving environmental expectations and diminishing federal partnership, these mega-projects do not reflect the priorities of the communities we are elected to serve. Our citizens and businesses deserve leadership on infrastructure projects that is forward looking.
In addition to seeking a design that is sensitive to affected communities (including Clackamas County), we have grave concerns about a funding strategy for the Columbia River Crossing that prioritizes it above all other regional transportation investments. While we understand that there are rare funding opportunities for this project, we are also all too familiar with the tradeoffs involved in selected regional transportation funding priorities.
Clackamas County would like to see a revised approach to the Columbia River Crossing project that addresses the concerns about community sensitivity, phased design, and realistic funding. While we have not been invited to the table as a sponsor of the project - Metro is our representative -- we are certainly willing to participate as a constructive partner in moving this project forward. We are willing to consider and help communicate with the public new ideas that can work. For example, we continue to be interested in the idea of tolling the I-205 bridge along with the I-5 bridge as a pilot project. We know this is not widely popular and are more than willing to discuss these issues with the broader public. It would not be appropriate to use these tolls revenues solely for the Columbia River Crossing when there are so many other long-anticipated projects worthy of such funding along I-205 in Vancouver, Portland and Clackamas County.
Additionally, we are happy to share our expertise in practical design where appropriate for this project. Clackamas County is part of a national coalition of experts and advocates for this approach to transportation facility design and we have access to resources that could be useful in considering design modifications or project phasing. Because we firmly believe that the scarce financial resources will require a phased approach, we would urge you to move quickly in this direction to restore faith with funders and with community stakeholders.
Similarly, we continue to emphasize a broader system view of this project. Removing a bottleneck on the I-5 bridge and moving it to the I-5 in the Central City is not a viable solution, and the region is then forced to make additional difficult and unrealistic choices. By the same token, it is not helping the freight community if traffic on I-5 is more reliable but comes at the expense of the reliability of I-205. There are a number of unresolved questions on this project that with additional investigation and investment could restore community confidence.
Clackamas County is very supportive to our partners in local government who are attempting to address a significant problem while meeting multiple objectives. This letter is meant as an attempt to help guide this project back in a viable direction. We have been watching with great concern as many of the project partners have not been able to identify solutions to these very serious community issues.
We ask that you consider our proposal to revise key aspects of the project planning approach. It is our belief that the NEPA process can continue while practical design, system planning, and revised funding strategies are concurrently applied. While we know this is a complex undertaking, we are committed to finding a solution that works for this region. The project cannot continue in its current process without losing community support. Clackamas County is willing to be a part of helping this project move forward in the wisest community context possible, and we hope the project sponsors will seriously consider the issues and alternative approaches we have raised.
CLACKAMAS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Lynn Peterson, Chair,
On behalf of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners
A variation on the supplemental bridge theme, Spencer Boomhower gets his idea onto one page with full illustrations. Very nice!
May 20, 2010
I clearly missed an important meeting at the Columbia River Crossing Independent Review Panel yesterday.
Metro President David Bragdon gave this testimony (PDF, 112K), with a clear call for "Plan B":
Moreover, we need an expedited process to get us to Plan B quickly, through a collaborative governance model which makes the highway divisions participants in the process, a role for they are qualified, rather than being the manager of the process itself, a role they have shown they are not qualified for.
I'm told that Catherine Ciarlo of Mayor Sam Adams' office made the same point.
I also understand that technical analysis of project data re-analyzed by a consultant funded by the City (can someone who was at the meeting confirm this) appeared to demonstrate that the project was over-built.
And of course, I suspect everyone there was mulling over last night's election results in which Councilor Rex Burkholder, one of the architects of the process that led to the current design, placed third in the race to succeed Bragdon, behind Bob Stacey, a harsh critic of the current design (not forgetting of course that Mayor Tom Hughes, who placed first a couple of points ahead of Stacey, has supported pretty much any design that gets the bridge built). The fall runoff will almost certainly feature the CRC as a key issue.
We live in interesting times.
May 19, 2010
What is the next infrastructure investment for the U.S. comparable to the investment in the Interstate Highway system in the 50's and 60's?
The retrograde folks who run state highway departments have an answer straight from the 50's: more urban freeways. (I'd laugh if it didn't scare me so much).
On the more positive side, over at Richard Florida's blog the answers range from high-speed internet to high-speed electric rail to ... wait for it ... walkable cities.
May 18, 2010
Lots of Columbia River Crossing happenings this week:
- The Independent Review Panel (IPR) will convene for the first time, and will be met by a protest at its first meeting.
PROTEST PLANNED FOR FIRST MEETING OF CRC 'RUBBER STAMP' PANEL
(Portland, Ore.)--The Stop the CRC Coalition--a grassroots organization opposing the Columbia River Crossing Project in its current form--will protest at the first meeting a panel of 'experts' appointed to review the project on Wednesday, May 19.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) picked the panel's members, who are transportation consultants for various road-building agencies. While the panel's ostensible purpose is to address mounting concerns from citizens and local elected officials about the bridge's impact on sprawl, the environment, public health, state budgets and local communities, the panel has not asked to hear from critics of the process, focusing its work on only reviewing the current design, finances and post-construction of the bridge, and working from documents and information that the transportation agencies have prepared.
"The cost of this review panel is $750,000, over and above the $1 million being spent every month by the project," said David Osborn from the Coalition to Stop the CRC. "And yet, the review panel appears to be getting ready to rubber stamp the bridge's current 12-lane, $3.6 billion design, despite widespread opposition to the project."
Opponents of the bridge in its current 12-lane design have spent thousands of hours reviewing documents and working on alternatives, but have been largely relegated to three-minute appearances at public hearings, or being refused the opportunity to testify outright.
WHO: Stop the CRC Coalition
WHAT: Protest and action at Rubber Stamp Panel first meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, May 19, 8:45 AM (protest first before Coalition members attempt to enter the panel's meeting)
WHERE: Portland Expo Center--protest outside; panel meeting in Room D201
- The IPR has also announced a public hearing, with all of two days notice. Stellar citizen involvement:
The panel will host a public meeting to hear directly from members of the community starting at 7 p.m. on May 19 at the Expo Center.
- Perhaps most intriguingly, there is some buzz on the grapevine that Washington (the state) is putting pressure on ODOT to seriously look at slimmed down alternatives in order to generate some consensus and get the project moving again. One can only hope that this might be true...
I'm trying to re-arrange my schedule to get to this one...
Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2010 Transportation Seminar Series
Speaker: Geoff Rose, Director, Institute of Transport Studies and Transport Theme Leader in the Monash Sustainability Institute (bio)
Topic: Emerging Implications of Electric Bicycles
Abstract: A variety of types of electric bicycles are now available to consumers in America and around the world. While there has been strong uptake of these vehicles in China, there remains uncertainty in other markets about their ultimate potential as a transportation mode. The technology is evolving in ways that are likely to better meet traveller's needs and the growth of this mode presents both opportunities and challenges. Since they have implications for transportation policy, planning and operations it is appropriate for the transportation profession to consider these vehicles carefully. This seminar will review developments and emerging issues with this form of transportation technology.
When: Friday, May 21, 2010, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
May 17, 2010
What do folks think? We launched just after July 4th in 2005, should we have what would only be our second-ever meetup? What would we do to celebrate?
OK, I admit it, I sometimes jay-walk. In fact a few weeks ago I jay-walked in front of the Oregon Attorney General - I thought he was going to arrest me...
I also roll my bike through stop signs without putting a foot down on occasion.
But I only do these things in specific situations. Jay-walking when there is no oncoming traffic for a significant distance, rolling through the stop sign after slowing down and being sure there's no cross-traffic that has the right-of-way.
So it was with great relief that I saw this video in which the New York Times' ethicist, Randy Cohen, is interviewed by Streetfilms.
Among other comments about the ethical implications of various modes of transportation, Cohen, who's been biking in New York for decades, says he often rides through red lights!
He defines this as the "consequentialist" point of view: if the action has no adverse consequences for you or others, it's ethical (which is not to say there aren't circumstances where rolling through a stop sign WOULD decidedly have consequences, and therefore be unethical).
So I may be a scofflaw, but at least I'm an ethical, "consequentialist", one.
May 14, 2010
This message brought to you by our friends at AORTA:
The Oregon Department of Transportation is hosting a series of open house meetings on the state's Draft goals for high-speed rail between Eugene and Portland. Meetings will include a short presentation and allow citizens to share feedback. ODOT says that citizen feedback is crucial to ensuring the success of Oregon's passenger rail program, so if you want to have an influence on the future of rail travel in the Valley, plan to attend one of these sessions. Even if you cannoit make it to tonight's opener in Salem, there are eight more between now and June 9. Among the topics ODOT wants to consider is whether Cascades trains south of Portland should remain on the Union Pacific or be rerouted onto the former Oregon Electric interurban line (now Portland & Western). (Note: this route would still not go through Corvallis.) Also likely to be aired is an independent proposal for a new dedicated high-speed line in the I-5 median. There could be other surprises; check the schedule below. More information at ODOT.
Dates and Locations:
May 13, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
ODOT Transportation Building
Conference Room 122
355 Capitol St NE
May 18, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
155 High Street
May 19, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
ODOT Region 1 Office
Conference Room A & B
123 NW Flanders
May 20, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Wilsonville City Hall
City Council Chambers
29799 SW Town Center Loop
May 25, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Albany City Hall
333 Broadalbin Street SW
May 26, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Oregon City City Hall
625 Center Street
Oregon City, OR
June 2, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Woodburn City Hall
270 Montgomery Street
June 3, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Lake Oswego City Hall
380 A Ave.
Lake Oswego, OR
June 9, 2010 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Junction City City Hall
680 Greenwood Street
Junction City, OR
May 13, 2010
I'm looking forward to the Milwaukie Light Rail project opening around 2015. It's an important expansion of our regional LRT network and will improve connectivity across the river dramatically for transit, bikes and pedestrians at the south end of the Central City.
But I'm disappointed by one element of the funding strategy. TriMet will issue bonds for about $39M as part of the $1.4B project - just over 2% of the overall budget.
The rub is that the only way TriMet has to pay off these bonds over the next twenty years is to use payroll tax and farebox revenue to do so - money that would otherwise be available for operations.
TriMet says that debt service on these bonds will be about $3.2 million each year. Currently, it costs about $100 to operate a bus for an hour. That means that we're giving up the opportunity for 32,000 bus service hours (or a smaller number of more expensive light rail operating hours) in the first year. Over the 20 years the bonds will be paid off, allowing for some inflation in operating costs, we're talking about half a million service hours.
Surely as a region we're smarter than this? We should be able to find a way to complete our capital budget without robbing the precious funds that are available for operations.
Transportation for America supports the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, which among other things includes another $1.8B for TIGER grants (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).
May 12, 2010
The Independent Review Panel for the Columbia River Crossing project (appointed by the same folks who have been ramming this project through) has its own web site and this schedule of all-day meetings:
5/19 - kickoff
5/20 - design review
6/1 - planning/environmental
6/2 - project management
6/17 - financial/project management continued
6/18 - operational performance measures
7/7 and 7/8 - location and topics TBD
May 11, 2010
The May thread is open, on time and on budget. :-)
The Seattle Times is reporting that Seattle is considering replacing its electric trolleybuses with hybrid buses to save money, although this perspective is not universally supported.
Human Transit has an analysis of factors that might cause cities to curtail or replace trolleybus systems.
May 10, 2010
That's what an effort in California would allow. If your car is idle for long periods of time, you could put it into a car-share pool. Likewise, you could access your neighbors' or co-workers' cars if they were part of the program.
Over at the carsharing.us blog, Dave has an analysis of why the economics of this are so favorable both for car owners and the car-sharing companies.
May 6, 2010
In a word - politics.
A new report from U.S. PIRG (PDF, 1.8M) describes the political forces that cause politicians to favor ribbon cuttings over basic maintenance programs:
One thing is for sure: the deterioration of our roads and bridges is no accident. Rather, it is the direct result of countless policy decisions that put other considerations ahead of the pressing need to preserve our investment in the highway system. Political forces often undermine a strong commitment to maintenance. Members of Congress, state legislators and local politicians thrive on ribbon-cuttings. Powerful special interests push for new and bigger highways. Meanwhile, federal and state policies--which should provide strong guidance in the wise use of taxpayer dollars--often fail to achieve the proper balance between building new infrastructure and taking care of what we already have built.
May 5, 2010
Listen to the show (mp3, 26.6MB)
We all know that riding a bike is good for your health. But what exactly are the health benefits of bicycling? If you ride a bike, what can you do to take care of your body? Are there stretches you can do and food you can eat that will help you ride faster and feel better? How do aspects of urban riding--like car exhaust and road rage--affect your health? Hosts Lindsay and Elly are in the studio with a variety of health care practitioners to address these issues and answer your questions.
From a terrific podcast ("The Metabolism of Cities") at Smart City, in which he argues for High Speed Rail and Light Rail (among other things) as ways to increase the velocity at which people, goods, services and idea move in cities and mega-regions.
May 4, 2010
Apparently, Allen Alley, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor, has decided that Light Rail is a good wedge issue. He has announced his opposition to the Milwaukie Light Rail project.
A reader reminds us that back in 2005, a PSU class for Professor Will Macht did a Columbia River Crossing concept around a waterfront development named "Quayside".
It's 8 pages (PDF, 2.1M), not one, but the idea of actually linking the CRC to land use is apparently completely foreign to the project team, so I though a refresher might be useful.
May 3, 2010
I love people who can be succinct. This from Dan Wade.
Dear Councilor Liberty,
I came across a post on portlandtransport.com outlining your request for one-page CRC proposals and thought I would weigh in.
First of all, the initial planning process seemed to woefully neglect the rail bridge west of the I-5 span, which is a shame considering the potential of this structure as a true multimodal facility. I'd suggest upgrading the rail bridge by replacing the swing span with a lift span and adding the following to the structure:
* Additional tracks for freight and high-speed passenger rail
* Pedestrian/bike facilities
* A local arterial road
The arterial would act as an extension of N. Portland Rd., paralleling the railroad tracks across the Willamette River to meet US 30. The pedestrian/bike facilities could connect to the proposed Willamette Greenway Corridor. Furthermore, the arterial would offer connections to Hayden Island, Marine Dr., and Columbia Blvd. (Speaking of Columbia, I could see this corridor being upgraded to a limited access expressway east to I-205, offering an alternate route to I-84 and hopefully reducing freight traffic on Lombard.)
As for the I-5 span itself, whether the final decision ends up being a full replacement or just a supplemental bridge, I'm of the opinion that 8 lanes is probably sufficient. High-capacity transit facilities are a must, whether it's LRT or something that could easily be retrofitted for LRT as future demand warrants.
Think I'll sign off now before I go over the one-page limit. Thank you very much for offering this chance to participate in the planning process.
Mike Francis' opinion section feature about the Columbia River Crossing is a refreshing break from the "we must do this no matter what" drumbeat of the editorial page of our local daily:
You don't have to be an architect, artist, bicyclist, urban planner, academic or environmentalist to fear that the Columbia River Crossing is a process that is careening toward an unfortunate outcome. Just look at the schematic.
And the Jack Ohman cartoon is not to be missed.
My favorite quote from the piece:
But, notes Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt, "It's not like there's an obvious Plan B. We can do what we have in front of us, or do nothing for quite a while." If the Columbia River Crossing is scuttled now, he predicts, it will take "another 10 or 15 years" before the stars are aligned this way again.
Reading that, I alternate between laughter and anger, because it has been the clear intent of the DOTs, aided by the Ports to, by hook or by crook, make sure that no viable alternative emerges from the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process for this project.