Sellwood Transportation Projects

The Sellwood neighborhood has been in the news several times recently with regards to transportation issues. The bridge committee recently recommended four bridge designs and four alignments for further study. Theresa Pucik, the vice chairwoman of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League, was quoted in the Clackamas Review recently decrying the planned location of the Bybee Blvd MAX station, citing safety concerns due to the lack of visibility and accessibility from nearby streets and likening it to the NE 82nd Avenue stop. Now Sellwood is in the news again, and although there has been no formal proposal, this time in a piece titled “Transit plans take long road,” the Portland Tribune reports that the possibility of a streetcar may be complicating two other projects in the area with regional implications.

The idea of extending the Portland streetcar to Sellwood is complicating two significant transportation projects – dealing with the aging Sellwood Bridge and creating a transit line between Portland and Lake Oswego.

No one has formally proposed building a new Sellwood streetcar line.

But city transportation Commissioner Sam Adams is interested in extending the streetcar service throughout Portland and believes the Southeast Portland neighborhood of Sellwood might be a good candidate, along with such east-side areas as Hollywood and Hawthorne.

However, in spite of stating that there are “complications,” it goes on to say:

This is not yet much of a concern for the Sellwood Project Advisory Group, a panel of regional elected and transportation officials working on the project to repair or replace the bridge.


Despite the large number of remaining options, a streetcar line could theoretically be included on all of the designs under study, said Mike Pullen, a spokesman for Multnomah County, which owns the bridge.

Pullen said that because a streetcar weighs only as much as a large truck, the rehabilitated or replacement bridge would not have to be strengthened beyond current thinking. And because no stops would be required on the bridge, the line could be run within the existing two-lane width.

“We’re not actually planning for it, but there’s nothing we’ve done yet that would prevent it,” Pullen said.

Complications, indeed. The article goes on to mention that the streetcar/enhanced bus options for Highway 43 were recommended for further study, but makes no mention of specifically how the not-yet-proposed Sellwood streetcar is complicating that project beyond a vague “those working on the Sellwood Bridge and the Portland-to-Lake Oswego transit project are trying to avoid making any decisions that would preclude a new Sellwood streetcar line.”


The committee also agreed to study two designs for a separate bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists: cable-stayed and stress ribbon. No cost estimates are yet available for such a bridge.

There has been quite a lot of talk going on lately about Sellwood. What suggestions do you have for Sellwood’s transportation future? Should we be considering an east-west one-way couplet between 99E and the infamous bridge? Should the bridge alignment remain on Tacoma Street? What type of streetcar route would really help Sellwood businesses and residents? Should said streetcar cross the river to tie in to the proposed Portland-Lake Oswego line to the future Portland-Milwaukie MAX? Or perhaps along Bybee out to the Reed College area? How do we best address perceived safety concerns for the Bybee Blvd or even the Tacoma Street MAX station?

Continue reading Transit plans take long road

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