Portland Streetcar Loop Visualizations

I recently worked with the Portland Streetcar organization to develop 3D “visualizations” of the new loop route on the eastside, to be shown at public meetings and made available online.

The project is a good example of how geographically-oriented data from many sources is converging to help people better-understand their communities and better-communicate ideas.

Using the affordable tool Google Earth Pro, which automatically incorporates aerial images from Metro and building shapes provided by a community of 3D artists, and the addition of eastside 3D building shapes and height data provided by the Bureau of Planning, and with the flourish of a 3D streetcar model provided by a volunteer artist, the project was able to be completed in a quick time frame.

Here are the finished videos on YouTube:



The quality from YouTube is not good… the embedded viewers are too small to read the text, and when viewed full-screen the resolution is too low to see the detail, but it does make widespread distribution simple.

For those who want to see the videos more clearly, the original “high definition” files may be downloaded directly from the Portland Streetcar web site for viewing in Apple’s QuickTime player. Warning: These files are well over 500MB each.

The technology still has a long way to go, but it’s amazing just how much can be done today… if you’re willing to put up with Google Earth’s penchant for crashing (and crashing while saving!), arcane user-interface, and horrifyingly over-complicated 3D object placement process when paired with Google Sketchup… garbled output images, and an output video which can’t be opened in most professional editing software and which requires 3rd-party conversion software… technology is the future!

Disclosure: In the past I’ve worked on projects for the Portland Streetcar on a strictly volunteer basis. This project was considerably larger in scope beyond my usual commitment, and I was compensated for hours worked beyond the volunteer agreement, as well as reimbursed for direct expenses.

0 responses to “Portland Streetcar Loop Visualizations”

  1. It was under $1,000 for the pair, including expenses… I can’t break it down precisely for you because I was multitasking several streetcar-related projects simultaneously, including the move of the web site to a new server at a new hosting provider, just keeping track of the hours I was sitting at the computer working on the streetcar in general, switching between windows from one project to another, etc., plus of course much of this was done as purely volunteer time.

    The single largest expense was Google Earth Pro. The main feature the “Pro” version gets you is the ability to record video tours, so that people don’t need to install Google Earth on their own computers to see the results.

    Normally, Google Earth Pro costs $400. But we did the 7-day free trial and waited until the last possible moment and by luck received a coupon from Google for $100 off to “entice” the sale. I don’t know if that would work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth trying if your project can wait 7 days before being completed. The Google Earth Pro license is good for 1 full year, so if there are any more visualizations or changes needed, the model can be updated and re-rendered in considerably less time and expense than it took to set up originally.

    We are reaching the point now, where if you are flexible with your expectations, you can do animated 3D visualizations for a comparable cost to hiring someone to lay out a brochure, if you have the expertise and the patience.

    Another area of cost-savings is distribution. A few years ago, you might have produced a DVD and duplicated them at a production house and mailed them to a large number of people. Now, you can just email a web link for download or to YouTube, and if anyone really wants a DVD you can just burn one for a buck and give it to them (theoretically, not right now for this video!).

  2. To amplify my point about making changes: Now that the model has been set up, if public feedback or engineering concerns cause a stop to be relocated or removed, or something else which alters the map, the change can be made quickly in the model and the video re-rendered with minimal hassle. I’d use the word “presto!”, but it still takes the computer a few hours to render each video once you turn it loose.

  3. I’m disappointed to see that the distance between stops in some places is still 2 blocks. I thought one of the lessons learned from the original Streetcar alignment was that stop should be at least 3 blocks apart (and really, it should be 4). I *really* hope you consider removing at least a couple of those stations.

  4. Doug –

    I agree about the stop placing, and I’ve made my position known at various meetings.

    Nick –

    Vimeo or a similar service are being considered… YouTube is a great place to get found and get circulated, so there will always be a version there, but other higher-quality streaming services are being considered, or rendering mid-range version of the movie for serving up directly from the Portland Streetcar domain.

  5. Perhaps a stop closer to Union Station would be excellent though that building just after the Broadway bridge in the Northbound video looks familiar? Isn’t that already there?

    I would also agree for stops every 3-4 blocks vs. every 2.

  6. I forgot to note that only the outbound Pearl District stop at 9th is shown, inbound stops are not shown in the visualizations. This is because the inbound Pearl District routing is still up in the air, with two competing route ideas.

    The outbound stop at 9th isn’t actually that far from Union Station… it gives you a number of ground-level options which a stop in the middle Broadway bridge approaches (the only way to get closer to Union Station) doesn’t have.

    According to Gmaps Pedometer it’s a 1300ft / .25 mile walk from the stop at 9th to the main entrance of Union Station if you don’t cut through the post office property, less if you do. (I don’t recall if there’s a direct connection that way.)

    If you walk from the Union Station main entrance using existing sidewalks to the Broadway ramp of the bridge, up to where it meets Lovejoy, you’re only saving about 50 feet. Of course, a direct pedestrian ramp and/or elevator could be added from that point going directly to the station, but then you’re adding considerable expense to the budget. It may be worth doing, of course, but it goes way beyond the mere location of a stop.

  7. This video is fantastic.

    Even as a streetcar fan, I still have trouble conceiving of who would ride this line. Sure, some traffic will move from the Lloyd Center around to some other areas, Even if you kicked out the current residents and built a new pearl district, wouldn’t people just want to take transit across the bridge into downtown for work/fun/recreation? I guess it does, sort of, go to 23rd, but only after doglegging way out of the way.

  8. Bob: If there’s a public meeting concerning this alignment I’d love to know about it, I just can’t believe that they’d make the same mistake over again. Is there any chance of them moving on this, or are they pretty set?

  9. Doug –

    Sorry I don’t have a more specific answer for you, but the video project was done in advance of upcoming presentations, so there is an opportunity for further input… I’m busy this weekend but I’ll try to find out specific meeting dates next week.

    – Bob

  10. PS… According to my notes from the last CAC meeting there will be an upcoming newsletter and public outreach process regarding the loop project… when we have the information from that newsletter we’ll notify folks here as well.

    – Bob

  11. The horse is out of the barn on this alignment except for minor tweeks. There is a ton of under utilized property along the east side…Broadway/Weidler, 7th Avenue, MLK & Grand..parking lots, empty lots, etc. With new housing, some of it affordable, new retail and office, there will be plenty of riders. Streetcar helps reshape the urban landscape, so don’t look to what is, but what can be.
    re stops, as I recall most are in the 4 block range, not 2. Bob, do you have some facts?

  12. As a Pearl District resident this line will make it much easier and quicker to head east especially to the airport. Now you have to go way out of the way going south into Downtown to the Galleria/10th MAX station then transfer to go north on the existing streetcar, with this new route you’d just change at the Lloyd district to a streetcar that runs pretty much due west.

    I know it would be complicated but it would be really nice to have a stop for Union Station as has been mentioned above. Especially considering the route goes literally right over the station, preferably the stop could be at the intersection of Lovejoy and Broadway with island platforms stairs and possibly an elevator down (not sure if the sidewalk sloping down to Irving would count as a ramp). Regardless there should stops for both directions at 9th/Lovejoy. Also couldnt the Lovejoy bike route move to Marshall becoming a bike blvd. and allowing the more direct streetcar alignment along Lovejoy?

    As for speeding up the streetcar primarily on the existing Westside line and especially on the busiest portion between Jamison Square and Jefferson Street…

    Is there any reason why the streetcar has to fully pull into the stops even when there are no wheelchair passengers boarding/unboarding? A change in this policy would be one quick way to speed the streetcar up.

    Are there any long term plans to move or consolidate stops on the westside line? I’ve wished that the Everett and Glisan stops could be consolidated into a single Flanders stop (Northbound in front of Isabel restaurant and southbound in front of the AIA). Removing the Stark stop and consolidating the Alder stops and Taylor/Library stops into a major stop between Morrison and Yamhill (when something happens to the SmartPark).

    Also signal pre-emption at Burnside would do a lot to speed up the line.

  13. Lenny: I watched the visualization, in the Lloyd district there were three or 4 stops within two blocks of each other, and I think there were a few on MLK/Grand as well. There were others that were only three blocks apart. With our short block lengths, 4 blocks should be the absolute minimum spacing for the streetcar.

  14. al m Says:

    No comment from the pro street car faction.

    I guess that tells the story doesn’t it.

    You waited 30 minutes for a response, Al. On a blog.

  15. I think the design maps spell out the stop distances better than video; many Lloy blocks are doubles so two is actually four, etc.
    Stops at signals allow boarding on RED; works pretty well. The only way to speed the thing is exclusive lanes and signal exemption; probably not popular with auto-addicts or PDOT.
    re Streetcar’s impact: ride the existing line and see the number and variety of riders and all the new and renovated buildings. It speaks for itself.

  16. Great job, Bob! And I don’t know what you mean about the text being too small to read–except for the copyright notices at the bottom, I can read your labels fine. But it would be even cooler if a track could be shown instead of the aqua(?) line. I’m not exactly sure its possible, but it seems it wouldn’t be that hard to repeat a graphic of a small stretch of track.

    As for the streetcar itself, I’d like it if we charged the real costs of extending infrastructure further out to new greenfield developments, serving low-density developments (the more travel & infrastructure required when people are more spread out) and the private vehicle use (including pollution and oil defense) that makes those developments possible. That way, people would realize that “parking lots, empty lots, etc” are not the best use of inner-city land in the first place.

    much easier and quicker to head east

    Ya know, there IS the 77, which does do that now. It shares stops with the streetcar in NW, connects with MAX at Rose Quarter and goes through the Lloyd District. And if you’re south of that, for now its only a 3 block walk from the Line 17 stop at Everett & 4th to the Old Town/Chinatown station.

    why the streetcar has to fully pull into the stops

    My guess is that (unless only the front door was used) people might be expecting the platform and not the step down, not expecting the doors to open away from a platform, and that it might encourage people to stay on the street and walk through/across traffic. What I would have done is placed the platforms back away from signal queue areas.

  17. Stops at signals allow boarding on RED

    Not when there’s even just one vehicle in front of the streetcar.

    You waited 30 minutes for a response, Al

    No, he waited 9 minutes and then 10 minutes. Much less than the time between most buses. Especially those on a certain westside line…

  18. Lanny: They all look like short blocks to me. From what I can tell of the PDF they’re supplying at portlandstreetcar.org, going southbound there will be stops at:

    Weidler & Grand
    Weidler & 7th (two short blocks)
    7th & Clackamas (two short blocks)
    7th & Multnomah (two short blocks)
    7th & Holliday (one long block=two short blocks)
    6th & Oregon (three short blocks)

    Then 4 blocks to MLK & Hoyt, 5 down to Couch, 4 to Pine, then:

    MLK & Stark (two short blocks)
    MLK & Morrison (three short blocks)
    MLK & Taylor (three short blocks)
    MLK & Hawthorne (4 short blocks)
    MLK & Mill (3 short blocks)

    So as you can see, the majority of the stops headed southbound between Lloyd and the southernmost portion of the line are three stops apart or less, with 5 being 2 blocks apart.

    You could almost certainly get rid of three of those stops without anybody missing them, and I’d argue you could reasonably remove five (Weidler & 7th, 7th & Multnomah, 6th and Oregon, MLK & Stark, MLK & Taylor). In doing so you’d reduce travel time by what, somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes? That’s pretty significant for two miles of travel.

    As I said, I hate the idea that old mistakes are being repeated again. Despite the fact that I work downtown and sometimes do errands in the Pearl District I *never* take the Streetcar because the short stop distances mean that I can walk as fast as the Streetcar travels. There’s not a person out there who rides transit who wouldn’t be able to walk the distance from Weidler & 7th to 7th & Clackamas.

    Sorry, no more ranting.

  19. Believe it or not, Al, I have a life other than this blog :-)

    Keep in mind that the primary product of Streetcar is access rather than mobility. So while we are certainly cognizant that stops on the west side are too close together, and that was kept in mind when selecting the east side stop, making sure the stops are also proximate to things people want to get to is a very high priority.

    We are definitely aware of the need to keep Streetcar moving, and are actually working on a dedicated lane from the convention center to somewhere close to Burnside.

  20. AND-
    Ya still need to get some game controllers so we can all play

    at home.

    We can have two versions of the game,




  21. How about a game called “Public Transit Driver?” (If the title had “operator” in it, the masses would think it was a phone company simulation game.)

    I still don’t like the alignment down MLK and Grand, the traffic on those streets as of now is just going to spill over onto side streets (as has happened in the Woodstock area where speedbumps were recently installed on SE 41st Ave.).

  22. I’d love to see Portland look at a new ped/bike/streetcar bridge across I-84 at NE 7th Ave to NE 7th/8th Aves, then run the streetcar on that couplet. Less traffic to deal with, but it serves the exact same neighborhood and provides another bridge over I-84 for peds and bikes, who normally have to walk to Grand or 12th to cross in NE.

    Linking the Lloyd and and E Burnside areas should be a great way to grow development, but if we’re going to spend the amounts discussed, let’s add a new crossing over I-84 as well.

  23. “and an output video which can’t be opened in most professional editing software and which requires 3rd-party conversion software…”

    If you’re using Final Cut, have you tried using Cinema Tools (included and installed with Final Cut Studio, not sure about Express) to conform the output video? I’ve found that this works wonders for quickly making clips that Final Cut rejects as non-importable into usable clips.

  24. I’d love to see 7th Avenue bridge, but that’s a lot more bucks, and the alignment has been set after months (years?) of conversation between Streetcar, Central Eastside, Lloyd District, PDOT, etc., etc. Existing industrial zoning restricts new development to within one block of Grand/MLK…which have plenty of capacity and need the calming touch and signalized crosswalks that Streetcar will bring. Let’s get it built.

  25. Well, I guess I’ll throw my moldy old 2-cents worth in again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m for streetcar expansion.

    Jim Howell’s streetcar line connection to the transit mall is a good idea. From 5th & 6th, extend past Union Station main entry, under the Broadway Bridge, west on Northrup and enter the streetcar line at 10th. Turn south on either 11th or 12th (I prefer 12th), then turn west on Marshall, back past Union Station and re-enter the transit mall MAX line. This extension conforms to the popular idea of running a streetcar ‘circulator’ on the transit mall and it makes an ideal connection to the streetcar line in the Pearl District.

    It also affects which turnaround option in the Pearl District is chosen for the eastside loop, because the turn south off Northrup could double as the turnaround point for the eastside loop. And, an additional line just from NW 23rd to Lloyd District (eventually Hollywood) becomes possible. Walking and chewing gum at the same time.

    On the eastside, I have reservations about extending south further than Burnside. If the UPRR is to one day be relocated under Grand Avenue (Ceasar Chavez Blvd) in a tunnel, the streetcar line on Grand would have to be torn up and reinstalled.

    And, I think it’s obvious that turning south at NE 7th does not reach far enough into the Lloyd District commercial area. And so, I have long suggested continuing further east on Weidler to 15th, turning south there, turning west on Multnomah, turn north on Grand and west on Broadway. This has been my preferred Phase 1 that would create even more development potential while serving more people. But who the heck do I think I am anyway, giving my opinion to people who don’t care what I say, blah blah blah?

    My preferred 2nd Phase is to run a 2nd line that turns south from Weidler at MLK and goes only to Burnside, makes a loop through the Burnside Bridgehead development and returns on Grand. Boogity-boogity-booo. By that time, relocating UPRR line in a tunnel under Grand may be taken more seriously and the streetcar line on Ceasar Chavez Blvd won’t have to be torn up. Bippity-bippity-boom-bah! Wah-zoo!

  26. Hi folks –

    Thanks for the remarks… sorry I didn’t comment on several questions but I was away over the weekend camping, where the only “public transit” were wild horses, but unfortunately we weren’t able to flag one down, or even spot one, but we did see plenty of antelope.

    And Al, you should know better, I told you privately before you demanded responses that I would be away this weekend!

    – Bob

  27. A better route would have been to use Sixth Avenue for both directions creating a much friendlier pedestrian atmosphere. Using MLK and Grand Avenue only demonstrates the primary purpose of the streetcar is to create more traffic congestion on arterial streets. The stacked deck citizen committee disguised the congestion in such words as traffic calming and slowing traffic down as if these streets are actual race tracks. Now they will be parking lots full of cars and trucks with engines idling. If the primary purpose of the streetcar was actually to induce development rather than congestion, there would be no need for taxpayer subsidies to developers including cheap land from PDC and property tax abatement again demonstrating the public is being deceived by the oratory of those promoting a streetcar agenda. Just maybe due to all the financial trouble with the economy, the streetcar funding will disappear falling flat on its face and the Eastside route won’t be built thereby freeing the taxpaying public from being victims of the ongoing indebtedness of this socialistic scam.

  28. I’ve blogged about this before — I agree with Terry that a 6th Ave. transit/ped/bike street would have been a fantastic route, using a new crossing at 7th over I-84, (and preferable to me over the current route), however I strongly disagree with the rest of Terry’s assessments on this matter… there were a number of stakeholder groups involved, and many people had a say in this over a long period of time. Simply put, a route on 6th would have met with strong disagreement from property owners in the CEID, and would have been less compatible with existing zoning. There is a lot of development potential on MLK/Grand under current zoning.

    Regarding traffic speeds on MLK/Grand, the streetcar won’t do much to negatively impact traffic speeds. Most bus stops on MLK/Grand currently have curb extensions, so the operating characteristics of transit, including travel speed, won’t be much different. Streetcar service is expected to boost transit ridership in the corridor, so you can expect more stops being serviced during any given period, but streetcars also board rather quickly, so the effects of this will be diminished, and attracting greater transit ridership is good thing, too.

    The “traffic calming” effect should come not from streetcar operations, but from added signals at certain intersections, which will prevent a good deal of the speeding by flagrant lawbreaking motorists (take that, Terry :-) ) that goes on now.

  29. Since streetcars standard braking is so much slower than for buses they have to operate with much longer following distances and hence slower average speeds on shared right-of-ways.

    The decision to have multiple door, fast loading on one mode vs. another is a managerial one. We could have streetcar passengers load single file to check fares or we could have multiple door loading and fewer seats on buses.

    Bob R. – you had offered earlier to provide us with route 35 southbound ridership data. Since TriMet is proposing to move the alignment to Moody, could you please go ahead and post it? In particular, it would be interesting to see numbers for First & Harrison and Hamilton & Macadam as these would be the stops now used by SOWA/aerial tram riders.

  30. route 35 southbound ridership data

    Note that this is from Spring 2007, after the tram opened but also after the transit mall closed and before some of the more recent development:
    Stop: boardings/de-boardings (weekdays)
    SW Market & 2nd: 75/42
    SW 1st & Harrison: 46/13
    SW 1st & Lincoln: 23/11
    SW 1st & Madison Tower: 2/5
    SW 1st & Arthur (on island): 33/8
    SW Naito Parkway & Hooker St: 4/3
    SW Kelly & Curry: 3/9
    SW Hood & Gaines: 1/3
    SW Macadam & Hamilton Ct: 8/46

  31. Thanks for posting that, Jason, that’s more current than what I have. I may have some ’04 and ’06 data for the 35. If anyone is interested, I can post that too.

    Regarding streetcar stop spacing, I’ll go over the map this week and post a summary here.

  32. That boarding/deboarding ratio at Hamilton looks particularly interesting and was totally unexpected.
    I had to mentally ride the route for a minute when I realized what it most likely is.
    Naito and Hooker is the stop shared by 9,17 and 19 just before those three go around the curve under Naito and go across the Ross Island Bridge. 35 turns south on Kelly for two stops on the west side of I-5 before the first stop on Macadam, which is probably half a mile away from the last stop. The stop is considerably south of Bancroft, which has always been a busy industrial area and has the restaurant down there. So much of that is probably people walking back up the street to go there.

  33. When the moderator wants to censor opinion, it’s labelled incoherent ranting and erased. I’m all for streetcar line expansion. But, I have specific reservations which receive not the least rebuttal or counterpoint from supposedly like-minded streetcar fans here.

    Many people won’t get involved in these public works projects because they have directly or indirectly experienced how planner-insiders are unaccountable. The appearance of accountability is important for anyone seeking public office. Is ‘that’ coherent enough for ya, Chris?

  34. Chris didn’t remove your comment, I did.

    If you want to re-state and clarify the meaning of…

    “Crumby idea, vile, not even worth a reply from the illustrious streetcar line planning committee. Oh wait, I’m just dreaming this. You guys better watch it, or I’ll force myself to wake up and you’ll all disappear. Bwoo-ahh ahh ahhhhh! “

    … you are more than welcome to do it. Just turn down the invective.

  35. Thanks for posting that, Jason

    You’re welcome (both of you). Thought I’d save you some time.

    Also, it might be interesting to look at more recent data after the streetcar started serving the south end of South Waterfront and with more re-development. And it should be noted that all those people boarding at Arthur (say, coming from Marquam Hill via the 66 or the east side; as well as the other stops) would have to go out of the way to get to Line 35. In addition, the activity at 1st & Harrison could be because of other things besides people transferring to the streetcar (and people can take other lines to get there), and while the 36 also serves the same route during PM rush hour, there’s very little activity through the area.

    Overall, I think looking at improving the connection from the southbound streetcar to Line 35 might be a better idea. Especially considering that MAX trains will provide very frequent service down 5th to the streetcar.

  36. That wasn’t a comment, it was satire. You could have deleted the satire and left the comment, or replied to the comment, but all you did, Bob, was listen to the voices in your head that told you my comment wasn’t worth your time. If it turns out that you don’t get enough money to build all the way to OMSI, maybe you’ll remember that my suggested route would cost less and produce more ridership. Then, YOU can take all the credit, yea for you.

  37. Objection noted, my original characterization stands.

    FYI, I’m not on that committee, so I won’t be taking credit for anything, except trying to make a fairly decent video. Your missive is misdirected.

  38. No, Bob. My complaint is directed at you. If you want anyone to participate in the streetcar line expansion projects, you can’t ignore them or belittle their opinion. You are committed to streetcar expansion. So am I. But when I voice specific concerns pertinent to that shared goal, you apparently censor those views else others consider them and refuse to follow your lead.

    Don’t count on my support for your political career until you demonstrate accountability! “That Bob Robertson only responds to public inquiry that mirrors his opinion. Those whose opinion isn’t perfectly aligned with Bob’s are given the cold shoulder and condescension.”

    1). UPRR relation under Grand Ave…

    2). Eastside Loop turning point south at NE 7th fails to reach and serve central Lloyd District commercial area…

    Post an opinion on these issues or your record of public service suffers. And please don’t give me that, “Oh it’s too late for any changes BS.”

  39. Wells, Bob is doing a very tough job as the front-line moderator. While I understand your objection to your comment being removed, I don’t think Bob is trying to censor anyone.

  40. If you want anyone to participate in the streetcar line expansion projects, you can’t ignore them or belittle their opinion.

    It was not your specific opinion that I labelled as “incoherent ranting”. You may have noticed that all your other posts in this thread, including those in which you expressed an opinion about route choices, and including those in which you have criticized me directly, are published for the whole world to see. You’ll also see that other people who disagree also post uncensored in this thread. Commenting on Terry’s remarks, for example, I made a point of stating where we agreed before stating my strong disagreement.

    What got your one comment removed was primarily the phrase:

    You guys better watch it, or I’ll force myself to wake up and you’ll all disappear. Bwoo-ahh ahh ahhhhh!

    Please see the rules about being disagreeable. I still characterize that as an incoherent rant. State your on-topic policy opinions all you want. Avoid rants. That’s not so hard.

    Don’t count on my support for your political career until […]

    I’m not seeking a political career, thanks. I’ve volunteered for various issues and candidates, and that’s about it.

    PS… My last name is not Robertson. But I did think Bob Roberts was a pretty good movie.

  41. For the record, and in the interest of moving on from this dispute, here is the full text of Wells’ removed comment:

    Wow. I guess relocating the UPRR in a tunnel under Grand is an idiotic idea. Jim Howell has been for it a long time. Oh well. Oh, and how is turning south on NE 7th going to serve anyone wanting to go to Lloyd Center area shops? Sure, develop around 7th, why not? That’s why a return from NE 15th on Multnomah serves the areas ripe for development. Crumby idea, vile, not even worth a reply from the illustrious streetcar line planning committee. Oh wait, I’m just dreaming this. You guys better watch it, or I’ll force myself to wake up and you’ll all disappear. Bwoo-ahh ahh ahhhhh!

  42. [Moderator: In the interest of not reopening wounds in the Wells discussion, Matthew’s relatively tame remark regarding that has been removed.]

    Moving on: I’m surprised there isn’t a Broadway bridge object in Google Earth yet. What would it take to create one?

  43. I’m surprised there isn’t a Broadway bridge object in Google Earth yet. What would it take to create one?

    A few good photographs from many angles, a tape measure, a copy of Google Sketchup, a fast computer, and lots and lots of free time.

    There is already someone who has put together a very detailed and complete 3D model of the central city, bridges and all — Newlands and Co. TriMet has used this model for transit mall visualizations, and KGW uses it now for parts of their weather forecast.


    Use of such a quality model and rendering capability, of course, comes with a price tag. The thing which makes the Google Earth approach great is that it gives you a “good enough” rendering which can serve a lot of purposes, without costing a lot. If you want complete control over details and a higher-quality output, however, there are professional services out there ready and waiting.

  44. I’m all for the streetcar to the eastside, but I just really don’t look forward to sitting in traffic onboard a streetcar that’s supposed to keep movin’.

    Broadway and Grand? Yikes… With platforms at the end of the block, and the traffic volume of this corridor… I can see the streetcar really being hammered in traffic. Moving it to the next block at least avoids the congestion, at least outside of the Broadway Bridge.

  45. Once again the “Moderator” censors opinion. Participating in this forum is becoming more and more a waste of time. Will this post be removed? There’s no way to tell. Originally, I posted pertinent comments and got no reply. I complained about this lack of meaningful response, and my complaint was censored. Now I know why Terry Parker, Al M and others are disgusted with so-called progressives and liberals. Portland Streetcar planning officionados do not care for public participation. It’s all a ruse.

  46. The Moderator (me, in this case) removed a personally-directed off-topic insult. All of your opinions regarding the route have been posted for all to see. Terry’s and Al’s comments are also here for all to see. Learn the difference between flaming and discussing. This is not your personal forum, this is a moderated forum with rules and an overall point-of-view. There are many opportunities for you to create your own online forum if you want to run things differently.

  47. It wasn’t an ‘insult’, Bob, it was a ‘charge’ that you are unaccountable. I claim that if you as Moderater want people to participate, some sort of response to their posts is required else they lose interest. Your response, Bob, was to first censor my posts and then wriggle out any kind of response. I have to conclude that you weren’t simply deleting ‘insults’ as much as ‘censoring’ comment that got in the way of your agenda.

    I remember how South/Nort MAX was opposed by rail supporters AORTA, myself and others because it needed improvement. Boy, did that ever get the planners dander up, and I felt insulted that my view was so casually dismissed. Funny how things worked out. The planners produced a better project, Interstate MAX, because of people like me. My work on the Portland Streetcar is no different.

  48. I claim that if you as Moderater want people to participate, some sort of response to their posts is required else they lose interest.

    I’m not here to respond to everyone’s posts. If I have an opinion, I’ll respond. I’m not being paid to do this, I’m not here to babysit you. If you post crap I don’t think is appropriate, I’ll remove it, that’s my prerogative. Don’t like it? Go away. This is the final word in this thread on this issue.

  49. This is why I did NOT vote for Chris Smith for Portland City Council. Too many times on this forum, as an ardent streetcar supporter I’ve stated my opinion and had it completely ignored.

    Even though I do not take the position of being absolutely against rail transit projects as many participants here do, any criticism is dismissed derisively.

    My original comment stands: The UPRR mainline on the eastside should and probably will be relocated one day under Grand Avenue. The Portland Streetcar committee agenda does not allow this issue to be addressed knowing it disrupts the process, nevermind whether it makes sense in this important regard to delay extending the line further south than Burnside to OMSI. And, my critique that turning south on 7th instead of reaching the main commercial area of Lloyd District further east is left unaddressed.

    I am proud to have opposed South/North MAX because it needed improvement, and am gratified that the much improved Interstate MAX rose from its ashes. I do not afford much credit to rail transit supporters who ignore pertinent matters regarding any particular rail project. If the streetcar extension project fails to get off the drawing board or achieve ridership and other important goals, it will be due to a failure of its planners. No doubt these same planners will blame me for bringing up the hard truths.

  50. UPRR mainline on the eastside should and probably will be relocated one day under Grand Avenue. The Portland Streetcar committee agenda does not allow this issue to be addressed

    I don’t know if you went before the eastside loop committee, but as far as the Portland Streetcar CAC is concerned, I’ve been honored to be a part of that public process for over 18 months, and I don’t recall that issue ever being raised before the committee by any member of the public during that time period. There is a public comment period in every CAC meeting.

    I searched the minutes for the words “union” or “pacific”, or “uprr” and no relevant hits to your issue appeared. I also couldn’t find a reference to “Wells” but I don’t know if that’s your real name.

    You are most welcome and invited to present testimony as a member of the public before any CAC meeting. If you did so at a past meeting and your comments are not properly a part of the minutes, I can refer your remarks to the keeper of the minutes or incorporate them into the record at the next meeting opportunity.

    If you’ve previously delivered formal remarks in writing, or to a different body, I’d be happy to post them here, either as a comment or a full post if the material warrants it.

    I can relate to your frustration regarding your own point of view not being implemented via a public process. For more than a dozen meetings, I tried to lobby the folks involved in the Transit Mall project to preserve the architecture of the current bus shelters, and for the most part I did not achieve this goal. Some expense was involved, as I printed probably over $500 in color presentation materials to give to staffers, committee members, and interested parties over that period, at direct personal expense. But I did come away from that feeling that I was listened to by most, and respected by many, and I’m not dissuaded from continued engagement in the public process, despite some flaws.

  51. This is why I did NOT vote for Chris Smith for Portland City Council. Too many times on this forum, as an ardent streetcar supporter I’ve stated my opinion and had it completely ignored.

    Of course you’re welcome to vote for whomever you feel best represents you.

    But I’m a little confused about what you’re looking for from this blog. This is an opportunity for folks to exchange their views. If you have an expectation that people have to agree with you or even respond to you, you’ve missed the point.

    I share my perspective from time to time, but mostly try to raise interesting questions or make people aware of opportunities to participate or become informed. While I often choose to take part in civil discussion here, I don’t feel I have any special obligation to respond to comments if I don’t feel motivated to do so. This forum does NOT exist a place for me to defend or justify my political or policy views.

  52. I voted for Chris Smith, even though he kicked me off this blog for a week.

    I even put a sign up for him on my property, stolen twice!

    Primarily because I appreciate the way he handles this blog, and allows the free flowing of ideas!

    That’s why he would have made a good city councilor, too bad voters are such a stupid lot.

  53. Ridership numbers settle a lot of arguments. Impressive. Has Streetcar done any rider surveys to learn more about who rides, are trips combined with TriMet, what is average trip distance,
    what riders like most, least, how they paid…if they did, etc.

  54. Lenny – The person who would have some of those answers with the Portland Streetcar organization is away until after Tuesday. I have sent an email to see if there is additional info for you.

  55. Bob’s sense of being listened to and respected is exactly what I say is lacking here. As Chris wrote, since PortlandTransport is an opportunity to exchange ideas, for me, too often it fails to do that. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, a candidate shuffles home.

    The idea of relocating the UPRR mainline under Grand Ave has long been supported by Jim Howell, so it’s a safe bet that other members of AORTA agree. The portal of such a tunnel is just north of Burnside. Therefore, the Eastside Streetcar Loop could reach Burnside Bridgehead and tie into the proposed Burnside Couplet Streetcar Line. Of course, I support the eventual completion of the Loop, but the UPRR mainline remains a concern for the future.

    Just as Bob felt his participation was valued, (at least one old-style bus shelter is slated to be reincarnated as a coffee hutch), so too my views finally answered is encouraging.

    Don’t forget my complaint about the turning point south at NE 7th. I won’t. I’ve brought these streetcar expansion issues and many others up plenty of times, but when the tree fell in the forest, it didn’t make a sound…

  56. Going way back, here’s some numbers for Doug and Lenny regarding stop spacing… I’m using the approx. 200ft block size used in most Portland blocks, so for the large physical blocks in the Lloyd District, they count as 2 unit “blocks”. For now I’m just doing southbound… if anyone _really_ wants the northbound numbers let me know.

    Some of these numbers are approximate because the stop position (mid block, block start, block end) isn’t taken into perfect account, some blocks are irregular, etc, but this evens out one way or the other as you proceed along the route. The OMSI stop falls somewhere between 3 and 4 blocks, but since it adds a new overpass in an area which would have been difficult to cross for pedestrians, I’m rounding up to 4.

    To OMSI:
    Rose Quarter to 2nd & Weidler: 5 Blocks
    2nd & Weidler to Grand & Weidler: 3 Blocks
    Grand & Weidler to 7th & Halsey: 3 Blocks
    7th & Halsey to 7th and Wasco: 2 Blocks (Lloyd Tower Parking Lot)
    7th & Wasco to 7th & Holladay: 2 Blocks (MAX Station)
    7th & Holladay to Oregon & Grand: 4 Blocks
    Oregon & Grand to MLK & Hoyt: 3 Blocks (Convention Center)
    MLK & Hoyt to MLK & Burnside: 6 Blocks
    MLK & Burnside to MLK & Pine: 3 Blocks
    MLK & Pine to MLK & Washington: 3 Blocks
    MLK & Washington to MLK & Morrison: 2 Blocks
    MLK & Morrison to MLK & Salmon: 4 Blocks
    MLK & Salmon to MLK & Hawthorne: 3 Blocks
    MLK & Hawthorne to MLK & Stephens: 4 Blocks
    MLK & Stephens to OMSI: 4 Blocks

    Total Distance: 51 Blocks
    Total Intervals: 15
    Average Interval: 3.4 Blocks

    Personally, I would remove the 7th & Wasco stop (which is really 7th and Multnomah but is set back a bit to make room for an automobile left-turn lane). Using public sidewalks, one can access Lloyd Center from the 7th & Halsey station, and the Wasco stop is surrounded by parking. I know that stopping at Wasco (Multnomah) provides the same walking distance to a Lloyd Center main entrance, but otherwise there’s not much going on there which couldn’t adequately be served by the other two stops, and there are Lloyd Center shops located on Halsey as well, just not an attractive entrance at this time.

  57. Thanks Bob,
    any idea what the average distance between stops is on the existing line? Sorry to bother you, but it might be informative.
    5 blocks is 1/4 mile; stations on Interstate MAX are 10 blocks or 1/2 mile apart…too far for a circulator service.

  58. Lenny, here’s a look at the southbound stops on the current streetcar, using the same methodology:

    To South Waterfront:
    NW 23rd & Marshall to NW 22nd & Lovejoy: 3 Blocks
    NW 22nd & Lovejoy to NW 21st & Lovejoy: 2 Blocks
    NW 21st & Lovejoy to NW 18th & Lovejoy: 5 Blocks
    NW 18th & Lovejoy to NW 13th & Lovejoy: 5 Blocks
    NW 13th & Lovejoy to NW 11th & Johnson: 4 Blocks
    NW 11th & Johnson to NW 11th & Glisan: 3 Blocks
    NW 11th & Glisan to NW 11th & Everett: 2 Blocks
    NW 11th & Everett to NW 11th & Couch: 2 Blocks
    NW 11th & Couch to SW 11th & Alder: 4 Blocks
    SW 11th & Alder to SW 11th & Taylor: 3 Blocks
    SW 11th & Taylor to SW 11th & Jefferson: 4 Blocks
    SW 11th & Jefferson to SW 11th & Clay: 2 Blocks
    SW 11th & Clay to SW Park & Market: 3.5 Blocks (Park blocks are about 1/2 size)
    SW Park & Market to SW 5th & Market: 3 Blocks
    SW 5th & Market to SW 5th & Montgomery: 2 Blocks
    SW 5th & Montgomery to SW 3rd & Harrison: 3 Blocks
    SW 3rd & Harrison to SW 1st & Harrison: 2 Blocks
    SW 1st & Harrison to SW Harrison St.: 2 Blocks (This is the new connector street which has an irregular path so I’m approximating.)
    SW Harrison St. to SW River Parkway & Moody: 4 Blocks
    SW Moody & River Parkway to SW Moody & Gibbs: 10 Blocks (Again, approximating irregular route.)
    SW Moody & Gibbs to SW Moody & Gaines: 5 Blocks
    SW Moody & Gaines to SW Lowell: 3 Blocks

    Total Distance: 76.5 Blocks
    Total Intervals: 22
    Average Interval: 3.47 Blocks

    Interestingly, we wind up with basically the same average interval for the loop project!

    One thing that’s helping this average is the 10+ block stretch between Riverplace and South Waterfront, and the slightly longer average spacing within South Waterfront. Similarly, the Eastside Loop averages would have been helped by the trek across the Broadway Bridge, but that was not included in my earlier list. For a more direct comparison of, let’s call them non-“express” portions of the route, we should eliminate the stops beyond 1st & Harrison from the calculations, above:

    To SW 1st & Harrison Only:
    Total Distance: 54.5 Blocks
    Total Intervals: 18
    Average Interval: 3.02 Blocks

    What this shows is that the eastside loop offers a slight improvement over the original alignment (by “improvement” I’m speaking from the standpoint of someone who supports a bit more stop spacing than what we have today), but not a very big difference.

  59. Since I moved to NW and started using the streetcar a bit, I’ve often thought the Glisan and Everett stops should have been condensed to one at Flanders.

    I haven’t used the SW portion so much, but I remember there being a long time getting to SoWa. It’ll be nice when the area south of the Marquam gets developed (CeWa or MiWa or something?) that the streetcar already serves that area.

    Barely related, I just sent a picture of SoWa (and Portland) I took from a flight out of PDX to a friend who hasn’t been here for 2 years. It was taken Labor Day weekend, and SoWa really is starting to look built up. If anyone wants to take a look, it’s available at:


  60. In reference to Dave’s comments and the comments of others, it’s been my impression that it is much easier to add a stop later when demand warrants than to remove a weakly-patronized stop. Once a stop is installed, it can develop a constituency, and that constituency may oppose moving or eliminating the stop even if the change is a better proposition for most riders. Therefore, in reference to the stop near 7th and Wasco in the Loop proposal, I would rather see it slated as a “potential future stop” to be added as development expands (like one of the MAX stops at Gresham Station), rather than be implemented immediately when there’s not much to see around the immediate stop area.

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