Archive | February, 2006

OBA Seeks Policy Analysts

I just saw a note from Jim Zehren, chair of the board of the Oregon Business Association.

OBA is looking for one or two full- or part-time policy analysts in areas that include sustainability, energy and environmental issues; health; education; transportation; taxes and public finance; and “good government” (state governance issues).

Interested parties should contact Executive Director Lynn Lundquist at lynn@oba-online.org.

Light Rail to Forest Grove?

Now that I’m serving on MPAC, I’m making an effort to get out to various corners of the region and meet with local officials to get a better perspective on regional issues through a local lens.

I started with a trek out to Forest Grove, where Richard Kidd, who also chairs MPAC this year, is mayor. Forest Grove is as far west as our region goes, all the way to the end of the MAX Blue Line, then 20 minutes more on the #57.

When the West Side light rail was planned, the plans extended all the way to Forest Grove, but the funding ran out at Hillsboro. Mayor Kidd would like to change that.

He has a plan to do LRT from Hillsboro to Forest Grove on the cheap. Here’s how it would work:

  • Use existing ODOT rail right-of-way that parallels the highway from Hillsboro to Forest Grove. It currently only runs one freight train per week. He proposes that this freight service still be allowed to run on the LRT track.
  • Take old mothballed MAX trains (TriMet apparently has some) and refurbish them, replacing the current power plant with a diesel-electric one (the new line would then not need to be electrified, a further savings).

Of course the change in vehicle type would mean a transfer at Hillsboro.

What do you think?

Transit Mall Discussion Shifts to Columbia/Jefferson

The Transit Mall is back in the news this morning, with a Trib article on the impact to Columbia and Jefferson.

So I have two questions to propose for discussion today:

1) If we assume that the current plan is going forward (all indications are the decision is not going to get revisited by any of the governments that approved it two years ago), does it permanently constrain the total transit capacity of the mall, so that future growth in ridership has to go to other streets?

2) Would a step-up in transit service on Columbia and Jefferson be a bad thing? After all, they had significantly more bus traffic prior to the opening of West Side Light Rail than they do today. Does a stronger east/west bus corridor have benefits to riders? Detriment to retail or other uses? Should Salmon/Washington and the Morrison Bridge take some of these lines?

City Council Members Support Transit Mall Plan

This morning’s Oregonian (sorry, the article is not online) reports that Mayor Potter and Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams support continuing the Transit Mall plan following yesterdays presentation to the steering committee.
Adams’ quote:

I have been looking for the fatal flaw that would cause me to recommend a delay, and I have not found it.