First Eastside Streetcar Rails Go Down Today

I just learned that the first segment of rail for the Streetcar Loop project will be laid on NE Grand today!

21 responses to “First Eastside Streetcar Rails Go Down Today”

  1. I was over there on Saturday and it looked like they were moving things along very quickly. Hopefully they don’t run into any unexpected delays.

  2. Guys, don’t celebrate. This is going to be a huge fiasco. A fustercluck of the first degree.

    It connects the yuppie Pearl District with what again? A bunch of old warehouses and wholesalers for necessary but hardly mainstream products.

    Even assuming it does trigger a little development (iffy at best), who’s going to ride up to the Pearl or down to Rivercenter and then up 10th or 11th to get downtown? It’d be quicker to walk, and besides there are buses every five to ten minutes minutes on Division and Burnside and a bit less often on Morrison.

    Not to mention the regular traffic snarls on the Broadway Bridge whenever there’s an event at the Rose Garden (and, heck, sometimes when there’s NOT!)

    It’s a fustercluck…. A serious fustercluck. Say goodbye to the streetcar plan.

  3. BTW, light rail/streetcar realist, Randal O’Toole was in Portland last week and a video of one of his presentations will play on Portland Comcast channel 23 at 8:00 PM on Friday Feb 5

    Also, Robert Bruegmann’s presentation about his book, A Brief History of Sprawl will appear on Portland Comcast cable the following week at these times:
    10:00 pm Sunday channel 11
    7:00 pm Monday channel 22
    8:00 pm Friday channel 23

    This weekly series explores issues of traffic congestion, sprawl, land use, transportation, affordable housing and urban form.

    Videos from many of these program can be found at :


  4. It connects the yuppie Pearl District with what again? A bunch of old warehouses and wholesalers for necessary but hardly mainstream products.
    That might be what’s in the Eastside Industrial area now. What they’re planning for is to run these industrial businesses out of the area (such as to a far-flung industrial park along Airport Way or Hillsboro) and build Pearl-district-style condos for the obscenely rich to show off how they can afford to live anywhere they want to.

    Of course, what current electeds would probably tell you is ‘increased property value…’ however I bet everything constructed down there will receive property tax abatements so they pay even less than the current industrial uses, or nothing at all! All while saying “this is necessary for economic development and free market capitalism.”

    A specific example: When I volunteered at Free Geek (the computer recycling nonprofit which has expanded to almost an entire building at 1731 SE 10th Ave.) a few years ago, the discussion was they’ve probably signed their last lease for the location, and they’d probably be forced to some outlying area. You have to remember this is a nonprofit where currently, middle and high-school kids ride their bikes to/from for volunteer shifts, and other volunteers use TriMet Lift service to volunteer shifts so they can do something with their lives other than sit isolated in an home all day. Who knows if the other location will have any sort of transit access at all, let alone adequate biking or pedestrian facilities (for those that can walk miles, even in the rain).

    Let’s not forget that when the streetcar loop is completed and service begins, we will undoubtedly see further overall transit system cuts as more routes are turned into “feeder” lines and frequency is reduced because of less ridership due to loss of single-seat rides in favor of riding a bus to transfer to a streetcar to transfer to something else to reach what used to be reachable by one bus. This is another of the reasons I contend that TriMet is no longer operating quality, usable service.

    My proof? A little over a year ago, TriMet talked about combining the 6-MLK with 70-12th Ave and replacing areas currently served by 6-MLK South of Lloyd District and in Downtown Portland with a “temporary” shuttle with less days/span of service and frequency.

  5. What they’re planning for is to run these industrial businesses out of the area

    Nope. In fact, the zoning is quite carefully protected for those businesses. Those businesses were actively involved in the advisory group.

  6. Three cheers for vacant industrial lands and parking lots full of cars! Wow what a wonderful urban landscape. I love your vision for what became the Pearl District.

  7. It’s actually pretty important to preserve industrial land, while we’re on the topic. You know, people work there (yeah, jobs are important) and goods are produced/repaired/recycled there.

    The entire US economy is at risk when everyone is a “service” sector employee, pretty much like we have now. We meed to start producing again (right now we export our wealth in consumerism), and losing industrial land to development is like losing natural areas to development: once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Though, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all live in a fancy condos and be a barista, (service sector job) nevermind that you need a functioning economy based on people actually producing or manufacturing something.

    Yes, Portland has some vacant industrial land, that does not mean it can’t be filled in the future. We also have a lot of vacant retail/commercial stores too — that does not justify getting rid of them, either.

    We need to maintain our industrial/manufacturing lands! (I’m not saying this to the streetcar, just people’s concept that industrial sites are “ugly”).

  8. OMSI and the Eastside Esplanade are the largest attractors on the streetcar line. The Burnside Bridgehead will attract riders. Belmont/Morrison activity should pick up. Also, the stop at Hawthorne makes sense. When the bridge over the Willamette for the Milwaukie light rail line is done, the Eastside streetcar line gets better. The Burnside streetcar line also makes sense.

    Oh, also, President Obama is an alien from outer space, the CIA is reading our thoughts, your computer is draining your body energy right now to serve a One World Government, and George W Bush is the smartest man in the world, except for Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin is to die for unless Jesus comes back before.

  9. Ahhh, the bold predictions. I hope someone records these visions of doom and gloom to see how they compare to reality in 5 years, once the streetcar has had a chance to build its core ridership.

    We will see, we will see.

  10. It connects the yuppie Pearl District with what again? A bunch of old warehouses and wholesalers for necessary but hardly mainstream products.

    It also connects the convention center area, which has a ton of hotels, to the downtown area in a very easy to understand way for a tourist. When I travel I very rarely take buses unless I’m very familiar with the system or a local is showing me around. Yes, the MAX serves that area, but unless you’re staying right along Holladay people can get stuck walking a good distance to get to the MAX.

    That and hopefully we’ll see new development, hopefully starting with the massive parking lots around the Lloyd Center.

  11. Dave H: The MAX will certainly be more convenient from the Convention Center to downtown than the Streetcar will be. It’s what, a 5-10 minute ride? There’s a MAX stop literally right outside of the Convention Center (for those too lazy to walk the extra block down to the Rose Garden). What could be simpler?

  12. The CC may not directly benefit, but it makes hotels in the downtown area (especially those near the existing Streetcar) more appealing to travelers, and makes it more likely that visitors to Portland will check out more local businesses.

    As someone who’s worked in the hotel-related industries for most of my adult life, that will be a big advantage for bringing groups to Portland for conferences.

    Or maybe I’m just biased since I live near the current Streetcar line. I use it a lot, and having the east side open up to a one transfer ride is a nice bonus to what we already have.

  13. “It’d be quicker to walk, and besides there are buses every five to ten minutes minutes on Division and Burnside and a bit less often on Morrison.”

    If history is any lesson, those bus frequencies will dwindle severely once the Streetcar starts rolling.

    It’s the TriMet way – sacrifice successful bus lines on the altar of financially-unsustainable electric rail.

  14. Based on what’s happened on the Westside, Streetcar will help attract investment that will generate riders. $4B investment and 4M riders says Streetcar works. Agencies, business groups and neighborhoods have all pulled together in a way almost unseen anywhere else to make this happen. It is something to celebrate.

  15. While the cynicism of some of the posters here is probably not warranted–there’s no reason to suspect that TriMet has a secret plot to dismantle the bus system–nevertheless, some questions deserve answering:

    1) How much will the Streetcar cost TriMet to operate? I’m assuming much of the operations cost will be paid by the City, but some will come out of TriMet.

    2) How will said money be paid for? Cuts in allegedly-redundant services? Cuts in other services?

  16. “How much will the Streetcar cost TriMet to operate?”

    It looks like about $140 per hour to operate an individual streetcar. So new extensions added to the existing line costs about $60,000 annually per minute of average running time at existing service levels/headway.

    TriMet only has two options to absorb the operating costs of new services:
    1. Raise fares
    2. Cut other services

    This fiscal year, with the financial panic, WES and the Green Line, the agency chose to cut service. Can anybody really know what it will do as Eastside/LO/Milwaukie MAX all come on line over the next few years?

  17. Machine Shed,

    The east/west buses that pass through the eastside corridor don’t exist to serve people there. They primarily exist to serve people farther east. Tri-Met may choose to limit service on some of those lines because of funding problems, but they won’t be selected because the extreme western fringe of their service area has a north/south circulator.

    You may think you know how to run a transit service better than Tri-Met, but the service planners are not nearly as stupid as you think.

Leave a Reply

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