Archive | September, 2010

Welcome to Streetcar Switch Central





The Streetcar re-opened on Monday after a two-week shutdown to install new track in the Pearl District. A very complicated set of switches, crossovers and merges create the new “Northrup Loop”.

I’m celebrating because this represents the culmination of advocacy that I’ve been conducting since the Loop was first proposed shortly after the original alignment opened in 2001.

Back then I was representing NW Portland and wanted to make sure that future routes from NW 23rd to points on the east side would be possible.

Later in the process I was joined by Anne Niles, representing the Pearl District, who advocated for the Northrup Loop as a way to bring transit service further north in the district serving more existing and future residents.

As I joined the System Plan committee, it became even more apparent that flexibility would serve many potential future use scenarios.

So now the Northrup Loop, surrounding the two blocks between Lovejoy and Northrup, NW 10th and 11th, is a reality. The cost of this enhancement was an extra $1M on a $147M project. It was funded half and half by a local improvement district funded by local property owners (including for the first time single family condo owners) matched by Urban Renewal dollars.

For you sports fans, here’s a catalog of all the movements it will support.


Until this week, this was the only possible movement.


This is the ultimate configuration for the Loop that will circle both sides of the river.


Until we have the vehicles and operating budget to get at least south to Market St., this will be the temporary configuration.


This is the movement I started advocating for almost 10 years ago.


This is the bonus movement, which could be coupled with the turnaround at Market St. to allow a downtown shuttle serving the most heavily used part of the route.

What Data Set to Use for Our Transit Equity Project?

What demographic data sets will we use to compare against Transit Score to assess equity?

The 2000 Census is currently the only complete data set at the census tract level, so we’re going to start there. Obviously that’s way out of date and we shouldn’t reach any strong conclusions based on it.

I was asked in an earlier thread if ACS (American Community Survey) data was available at the tract level and I answered that it was. I was almost right. ACS is based on annual sampling (as opposed to the complete census that happens every 10 years) but features a longer questionnaire and therefore more data items.

In order to accumulate enough data points for areas as small as a census tract (a census tract has about 8,000 people, give or take several thousand), it takes five years of ACS sampling. ACS will release its first 5-year data set in December 2010, so at the point we would switch over and have much more current data. The 5-year data sets will then be updated annually (kind of a moving average) and that would likely be the preferred data set on an ongoing basis.

And on the mapping front, with the help of a KML file from TriMet, we’ve added the outline of the service district to the map. Our scoring process has finished Clackamas County and has now moved on into Multnomah County.

CRC Looking for a “Strong Owner”

ODOT Director Matt Garrett and WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond have released their response (PDF, 160K) to the Columbia River Crossing Independent Review Panel recommendations.

Two particularly notable points:

1) They agree to a phased project (i.e., “Uncle! We understand we can’t get $3.6B all at once.”)

2) They are looking for implementation under a “strong owner” model. No indication of who, or what entity, might be nominated as Czar of the CRC.

Filling in Our Equity Map

Following up on our Transit Equity post yesterday, we’ve begun grabbing our Transit Scores. It’s going to take about 10 days to fill them all in.

But meanwhile we’ll show you the work in progress. This map has the census tracts that are complete so far, with the color representing the average Transit Score for the tract (hotter color = better transit). You can watch this fill out over the next few days!

I’m also going to try to generate more of a heat map display (which won’t worry about the tract boundaries) – watch for that later…

You can also expect to see our data in tabular form soon as well.