Lake Oswego Streetcar Open Houses that Matter

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
Lakewood Center
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.

22 responses to “Lake Oswego Streetcar Open Houses that Matter”

  1. I went to a Lake Oswego stakeholders alternative terminus meeting hosted by Metro/TriMet last week. I don’t remember the exact words used, but it was pretty clear that the alternatives to be considered in the DEIS are set in concrete as the contract for the study has been or will be signed off in the very near future. It is supposed to include streetcar, enhanced bus (I don’t know what that means, either), and no-build bus. The question came up in regards to the potential high speed corridor link between Lake Oswego and Milwaukie. I pointed out that if the link were constructed in the form of a MAX extension, most streetcar riders would switch to MAX because of the Portland Mall alignment. Staff said that they were aware of considerations involved and were working very hard to get something out on a LO MAX extension before the upcoming meetings.

    The most interesting thing I got out of the meeting was that Lake Oswego stakeholders gave the very strong impression that they’re in accord with Dunthorpe residents on one thing – they support the streetcar but really don’t want it in their backyard. No one present spoke in favor of the Safeway terminus and several spoke against the Albertsons option. Only one had qualms with the Foothills/trolley barn terminus. That person lives south of downtown LO and therefore expects service to be degraded with the streetcar regardless of terminus choice.

  2. I think there should be a station for a LO streetcar at the W. approach of the Sellwood Bridge. One justification for spending three hundred million on a brand new Sellwood bridge is the instability of the land under the intersection of Hwy 43 and the Sellwood Bridge.

    But a combination of three projects could also do a lot to stabilize this–if indeed it is a major concern.
    1. A station
    2. Expresss lanes for Hwy 43 going beneath the existing roadway
    3. Rebuilt western approach for the existing Sellwood Bridge
    These could be structurally linked together into one monolithic structure.

    Why a station instead just a stop? Transit riders coming from the east on Tacoma Street may go either north–or south to LO, Lake Grove or Tualatin. If there were 2 express lanes under Hwy 43—resolving all congestion for a LONG time–it would not cost much to have a small building or platform for mass transit.

    The Sellwood Bridge is another case of “It ain’t broke but we are gonna fix it anyway.”

  3. The Sellwood is an interesting case. Given the nature of the neighborhood on the east side of the bridge, anything larger than what’s there isn’t a good fit. Closing the dang thing (or limiting it to pedestrian and bike traffic, in which case the structural problems more or less go away) is an obvious thing–except you now have no river crossings between the I-205 bridge in Oregon City, and the Ross Island bridge (ignoring the rail bridge in LO).

    I would prefer leaving the existing Sellwood Bridge alone, and fine some other place to build an arterial bridge if one is needed. Of course, numerous riverfront property owners on both sides will scream bloody murder if displaced. I’m not talking about any freeway bridge–just one that is a bit more modern than the Sellwood, and can safeuly hold fire trucks and busses. And rail, should the need arise.

  4. I would strongly suggest that a LO streetcar line switch onto the future MAX tracks (near the future OHSU waterfront campus) for a faster trip into downtown and for the more central downtown route on the transit mall… essentially running express from sowa to downtown. It may be a streetcar line but a) it would be “rapid streetcar” and b) be regional in function, which also makes it more suited for the transit mall.

    I’d also suggest that the 78 (Beaverton-LO) be extended to Oregon City to replace the 35, and make the 78 frequent service. And then have an easy streetcar + bus transfer link in downtown LO.

    IMO one of the best corridors in the latest Portland Streetcar system plan is the Tacoma Street line over the new Sellwood Bridge to the Tacoma Street MAX station. This would be a branch off of the line to LO which I think would work very well.

  5. I agree that the downtown alignment is one of the biggest problems for the LO streetcar extension and that a mall realignment would be a significant boost.

    It doesn’t solve everything, though. The bus would still be faster and more convenient for most riders when you look at the whole trip. For example, right now I can get from downtown LO to PDX in as little as an hour or less when transferring from the 35 to MAX at Interstate. It would be at least an hour and a quarter using the streetcar. There is just no way around that.

    If we lose the 35 then I think your (jon) idea of adding the LO – OC section of the 78 makes an incredible amount of good sense if we lose LO – Portland 35 service. There are at least 100 riders a day who transfer between the two lines. The only hitch might be that the Alternatives Analysis called for 10 minute headway on the rump 35. The extended 78 might not be able to justify that.

  6. P.S.

    The projected streetcar operating costs for the extension assumed that service would blend into the existing line. If the LO streetcar were diverted to the mall and the existing service maintained, then the entire LO based service would be new and operating costs per boarding ride would go up dramatically.

  7. “IMO one of the best corridors in the latest Portland Streetcar system plan is the Tacoma Street line over the new Sellwood Bridge to the Tacoma Street MAX station. This would be a branch off of the line to LO which I think would work very well.”

    Yes it is only 1.6 miles from Tacoma St. And McLoughlin to the W. end of the Sellwood bridge. I kept bringing up the notion that we could have had a two line streetcar system from Milwaukie into Portland—for about one-sixth the cost of the MAX, which will probably be mostly empty during the day. Since I was employed In Seattle until summer 2002 I was late getting into the discussion.

    As far as I can see the piers and the metal truss on the Selwood Brdge is just fine–and we had a state bridge inspector who agreed. The approaches are old and unsafe, though and there does need to be room for alternative transport. Eliminating the sidewalk would give the two lanes enough room—and human traffic could go underneath. Replacing the heavy concrete railings with lighter metal ones would eliminate a lot of weight off the structure. The roadway should be reconstructed—I think there are lighter weight options available now.

    I haven’t directly measured them but it looks like the concrete piers are bigger than on the Ross Island Bridge and it is two less lanes than the RIB. What is the worry?

  8. The 40 Tacoma bus was popular enough to have more runs than the 35 until the bridge weight limits killed the service. The 41 replacement never took off and is one of the lines slated to be killed in September. The Sellwood Bridge is a natural link for transit.

    I think one of the biggest mistakes in the LO Alternatives Analysis was setting up the BRT as unique Portland to LO downtown service requiring the great majority of riders to transfer between frequent service lines. It would have made so much more sense to have the 35, 36, 40, (perhaps an extended) 37, and even a new line going up Stafford and possibly Rosemont all using a common BRT infrastructure on Hwy 43. Of course, the whole idea was to justify the streetcar, not to find the best transit alternative.

  9. The Sellwood Bridge is a natural link for transit.

    True. Once the Sellwood (or its replacement) is ready to handle heavy loads, I’d like to see a new bus line linking Clackamas and Washington Counties via Hwy 224, Sellwood, Macadam and Kruse Way.

  10. Connecting the Kruse area with the east side is a real need. There isn’t anything that approaches a reasonable transit option for the people who make the trip every day. While the corridor focus is on Portland to Lake Oswego the reality is that some 70% of Hwy 43 traffic there is Sellwood Bridge based. There aren’t any realistic rail possibilities for Kruse Way; transit there will have to be bus based.

  11. While the corridor focus is on Portland to Lake Oswego the reality is that some 70% of Hwy 43 traffic there is Sellwood Bridge based.

    Suburb-to-suburb transit has indeed been lacking in TriMet’s arsenal (the inception of WES is a promising start, although ridership seems to be slow in taking off).

    As for the 43 corridor, I’m leaning toward converting the old railroad ROW into an extension of the Willamette Greenway, and running WES-style vehicles on the railroad line between Milwaukie and LO (and possibly Tualatin and beyond; the hypothetical bus line mentioned in previous posts would still serve the Kruse Way area).

  12. Time for the LO expressway…Kruse Woods to Oak Grove via Country Club road, a new bridge, and link to the Milwaukie Expressway. Will never happen because roads like this are only built thru poor communities less able to defend themselves.

  13. I still think MAX is the way to go Milwaukie to LO. — all day frequent service, cheaper to operate, electric not diesel, quieter, possibility of pedestrian/cyclist river crossing built in to the project, better service to Portland transit mall than streetcar, etc. If we got MAX instead of streetcar, the price of a pedestrian/cyclist path from LO to SOWA goes down from about $50 million to about $7 million according to the Alternatives Analysis—and we’d be able to keep our current bus service.

    The point is that if we are going to be spending $200+ million anyway, why not do it right?

  14. Suburb-to-suburb transit has indeed been lacking in TriMet’s arsenal (the inception of WES is a promising start, although ridership seems to be slow in taking off).

    Just looking at the map, it seems like they’re missing a few easy opportunities to feed riders to the WES.

    A bus route connecting Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn/Oregon City/Gladstone, and maybe even up to Clackamas Town Center (connecting to the new Green line once it opens) would be a great enticement for riders to use WES. As it is, if you live in Sherwood, you have to fight traffic on Tualatin-Sherwood Rd to get to the park and ride.

    It would also nicely serve the businesses along Tualatin-Sherwood so employees who take the to Tualatin could more easily get to the job.

    It seems like a real barrier to ridership to have so little connecting to some of these stations. Maybe TriMet studied this idea and it wouldn’t pan out, but it seems like if there’s a way to get to the WES, people will be more likely to use it. It seems like it could even just run peak hours as a feeder service like WES and help usage.

  15. A bus route connecting Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn/Oregon City/Gladstone, and maybe even up to Clackamas Town Center (connecting to the new Green line once it opens)…

    I like it. In fact, I-205 between OC/WL and Tualatin is one of the potential corridors in
    Metro’s HCT Plan.

    Speaking of missed WES opportunities, there needs to be a pedestrian overpass spanning 217 & Scholls Ferry and/or a shuttle bus connecting the Nimbus stop and Washington Square.

  16. Does anyone know what the estimated cost of a Milwaukie Line extension of MAX into Lake Oswego is?

    Frankly, i just don’t understand why there is such a push to run streetcar to Lake Oswego.

    A MAX extension to Lake Oswego just seems to make so much more sense… streetcar is great, but I havent bought into the “rapid streetcar” concept yet.

    There is probably some good reason for the political preference of streetcar, does anybody know what that reason is?

  17. i’m not sure how a Milwaukie-LO MAX line would work. somehow you’d have to add light rail tracks along side the active RR tracks and build an additional Willamette River bridge. the RoW is only wide enough for the single track that exists now.

    these tracks are still in use and are the main rail link for the washington county freight rail lines if anything a rush hour commuter rail line on this route like WES could work. and i believe it is a possible HCT route for a cross-region commuter rail line but considering these are active rail tracks, i wouldnt expect much service other than rush hour.

  18. A Milwaukie – LO MAX extension gets a little over three pages at the tail end of the LO – Portland Alternatives Analysis Evaluation Summary – Public Review Draft available for download from Metro near the bottom of the webpage at:

    Specific answers:
    Preliminary capital cost estimate $140 million by using the existing P&W bridge, $212 million with its own new bridge. The study expected that railroad leasing fees would soon more than compensate for any capital savings.

    Remember that the LO streetcar extension pushes up the cost of a pedestrian/cyclist LO – Johns Landing pathway from $7 million to $49 million, according to the Alternative Analysis.

    Part of the push for the streetcar is the ‘obvious’ thing that since the public already owns the Willamette Shoreline ROW, it ‘has to be’ the way to go. Another has to do with streetcar emotions. The big reason in the background is that a few people would make a lot of money with redevelopment in Johns Landing as well as LO, far more than with any other option. The one thing for certain is that it would mean longer total trip times and less convenience for most riders than with any other option, including no-build.

    The Alternatives Analysis expects that the P&W ROW would be available to MAX between 5:00 AM and 1:00 AM. From the standpoint of one who lives within a hundred yards of the ROW, this does seem reasonable. P&W should easily be able to conduct all their operations in the wee hours, especially if they get a lucrative lease with TriMet. A pretty high percentage of operations are occurring at night already.

    I think we’d be best off with a Milwaukie MAX extension on its own ROW and bridge, especially if the bridge included pedestrian/bike and bus lanes. The 78 gets a lot of people going to PCC Sylvania. It could probably get many more with direct access to Milwaukie, Clackamas, and/or SE Portland.

  19. It seems like building a second bridge on the Milwaukie MAX line would be better for the total transit system. Especially if the bridge included pedestrian and bus access.

    I dont really like the idea of leasing bridge access from a railroad, seems like a rip off really.

    What is the projected cost of the LO streetcar?

    How can we really justify this streetcar alignment when only 200m will connect Lake Oswego with Central City via MAX?

    Streetcar is great, and I’d love to see LO-CC streetcar someday. But its not mass transit really, and I’d prefer to add mass transit first (ie MAX), and implement streetcars for local service when we have the luxury to so….

  20. Here’s an idea. Until Streetcar Service Takes off, why not just run a lift over the Sellwood, even if between Milwaukie and Johns Landing? The times could be aligned to have a 35 waiting for the Shuttle to take them to Lake Oswego, therefore cutting an hour and 20 minute commute down to about 30 minutes!

    Just saying that it could work, at least for now.

  21. Until Streetcar Service Takes off, why not just run a lift over the Sellwood, even if between Milwaukie and Johns Landing?

    TriMet said it wouldn’t be cost-effective.
    Additionally, in September TriMet is eliminating the service (41-Tacoma and late night/early morning 70 runs between Milwaukie TC and Milwaukie Ave./Powell Blvd.) designed to partially replace service lost when Sellwood lost service on 40-Tacoma and 65-Milwaukie TC/Marquam Hill due to the closure of the Sellwood Bridge to transit vehicles. When this occurs, as well as service reductions on 19-Woodstock (which technically serves Westmoreland, not Sellwood), in September Sellwood will lose all late-night weekday and morning/evening weekend transit service. Someone will probably say “they’ll still have 33-McLoughlin,” but that’s way over on McLoughlin.

    Others have suggested returning ferry service using the old ferry landings on Spokane St. and Staff Jennings. I doubt there’s money for that, either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *