June 2011 Open Thread

June 2011 open thread

Another month, another open thread. A few quick items.

  • Lane Transit District has appointed a new General Manager, one Ronald Kilcoyne, who will become the fifth GM in the agency’s 41-year history. Rather than promoting from within, as TriMet did one year ago, LTD imported their new boss from Connecticut. He takes over at at interesting time for the agency–the first two portions of the EmX BRT line have been well-received; the proposed third segment to West Eugene is, how shall we say it, controversial. On one inauspicious note, according to the press release, Mr. Kilcoyne receives, in addition to a salary of $150k per year, a “car allowance of $4,000”. OK…. at least Neil McFarlane actually bothers to ride the bus to work.
  • Oregon Transportation Commission vice-chairman Michael Nelson‘s term on the commission expires, creating a second vacancy on the board. Will Governor Kitzhaber re-appoint him, name someone else, or leave the seat vacant for a while?
  • Housing prices in Oregon continue to decline, reaching 2004 levels. One out of 500 homes in the metro area is in foreclosure or bank-owned. Housing inventories are still well above normal. Yet the cities of Tigard and Hillsboro want to expand the UGB this year; and in the case of Tigard, at least, it isn’t industrial land that they want.
  • Speaking of home ownership, xkcd on the perils thereof.
  • Metro is seeking public comment in June for the next round of flexible funds, about $22 million dollars.

But as always, you can talk about anything (on topic) which you like!

176 Comments

176 Responses to June 2011 Open Thread

  1. jimkarlock
    June 1, 2011 at 12:35 am Link

    Good News For Our Livability!

    Recent news stories suggest that in a few years we will have more money on our pocket due to falling energy prices.

    Fraking has dramatically expanded natural gas supplies and this has already forced the price of natural gas lower. On top of this, a December 23, 2010 New York Times story reports that refining a gallon of diesel fuel from natural gas only costs 50 cents compared to 31 cents from oil. This means that lower natural gas prices provide a vast new source of liquid fuels as long as gas is a little cheaper than crude for an equivalent energy content. The article reports that diesel made from natural gas is 85 cents per gallon cheaper than from oil. Now it is almost certain to be an even bigger difference. Sasol has been doing this on a commercial scale for decades and is now expanding into North America.

    The second really big good news is that fraking is rapidly expanding our crude oil supply. On May 28, 2011, the New York Times reported that one new oil field (Bakken) went from “a trickle” to 400,000 barrels per day in just four years and could reach one million per day by the end of of the decade! Another is now producing 100,000 barrels per day and is expected to increase to 420,000 per day by 2015.

    Against a background of the USA importing about 9.7 million barrels per day (2009), this is soon to lower our imports by 20%. And this new technology is just in its infancy!

    One can easily project the application of this process to many more fields and a complete end of oil imports with the price dropping to close to the production cost, instead of being set by a cartel.

    This will lower our energy costs and free up money for other uses – better food, better vacations, better clothes for the kids. All are an improvement to American’s standard of living, an increase in America’s livability!

    Refrences:

    http://eia.gov/energy_in_brief/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm

    http://nytimes.com/2011/05/28/business/energy-environment/28shale.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

    Thanks
    JK

    [Moderator: Links corrected. – Bob R.]

  2. Bob R.
    June 1, 2011 at 12:43 am Link

    Good News For Our Livability!

    Sounds like an intro to an exciting episode of Futurama.

    Good News, as long as you don’t mind your drinking water catching on fire. But what’s a little localized environmental devastation for little people compared to the promise of short-term slight abundances of a bit of newly-extracted energy? It’s livability for us, not for them.

    If only there were a giant fusion reactor in the sky showering us with free energy every day, or something.

    (And it’s spelled “Fracking”.)

  3. jimkarlock
    June 1, 2011 at 3:50 am Link

    Bob R.: Good News, as long as you don’t mind your drinking water catching on fire.
    JK: Yeah, the greens are going all out to stop this new source of energy.

    BTW, water doesn’t burn – it is already fully oxidized.

    But if there is really a problem with drinking water due to fracking, the solution is to simply buy out a few “localized” people who have the problem. What’s a few million on a project that costs billions?

    The alternative is to continue to send billions to unfriendly countries (along with the friendlies that also supply our oil.)

    Thanks
    JK

  4. Steve S.
    June 1, 2011 at 8:01 am Link

    Metro Flex Funds are being hijacked by Environmental Justice fanatics who deliberately neglect both the needs of the region and the priorities of the citizenry.
    Their belief tha they know best and their minority should impose their will upon the rest is producing a blowback in Clackamas County, Lake Oswego, Vancouver and other jurisdictions.

    “JPACT created the task force and a working group on environmental justice and underserved communities to advise on how to spend the money to create a more sustainable transportation system.”

    As for fracking, greenies are misrepresenting it.

    From a Texas oil and gas friend.

    —–Original Message—–
    Sent: Tue, Apr 26, 2011 9:21 am
    Subject: Re: is fracking a problem or not

    When we are drilling a well, we are required to protect ALL useable groundwater to a depth specified by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. This depth is specified during the permitting process. The depth typically is around 1200′. Protection is by way of cementing pipe in the shallow section of the well bore. This is called surface casing. We first drill a 12 3/4″ diameter hole to 1200 feet. Then we run 8 5/8″ heavy wall seamless steel pipe to that depth with centralizers to keep it in the center of the well bore. Now we pump a calculated volume of cement down the pipe displacing it with salt water back up the outside of the pipe (annular space) until it reaches the surface. Excess cement volume is calculated to ensure we reach surface while a small amount of cement remains inside the bottom of the pipe (usually 20 – 50 feet). If less washout has occurred during drilling of the surface hole than calculated we sometimes circulate as much as 35 barrels of excess cement to surface as we displace the cement down the pipe. After all we don’t want to leave too much cement inside the pipe. Once cementing is done we must wait a minimum of 8 hours for the fast setting cement slurry to harden. During the running and cementing of the surface casing a representative of the Oil & Gas Division of the Texas Railroad Commission usually comes by to witness the process….we are required to notice them when it will be done. The composition of the cement slurry including all all additives, strengtheners and drying agents as well as the number and placing of centralizers is submitted for approval during the permitting process.

    Now, and only now, that the surface hole has been properly cased can drilling continue to total depth. We go back into the cased hole with a 7 7/8″ bit and tag cement near the bottom of the surface casing and spend several hours drilling out cement until we get out of the pipe and start making open hole. The hole is then drilled to the permitted total depth, logged and cored. If it looks like it is going to be a producer the surface casing process is repeated with a string of production pipe. By this I mean we run 4 1/2″, 11.6 lb/ft steel pipe from total depth to surface, centralize and cement. Now we have 2 concentric strings of pipe protecting the groundwater and no hydrocarbon productive zone open into the well bore….that comes later during well completion operations.

    By the time we move into the completion phase the drilling rig and all other equipment has been moved off. A work-over-well servicing rig is moved on location and a perforating truck is rigged up. A gun is lowered into the hole by wire line and the pipe is perforated with say 4 shots a foot through several feet of the productive zone. Our completion depths (where we perforate) are fairly shallow and are typically 4000 – 5500 feet. The perforating truck is released and the “frac” company starts mobilizing and placing equipment for the hydraulic fracturing of the well. This usually entails about 18 – 20 eighteen wheelers that include pumps, hoppers, blenders, tanks and what not. The sand laden frac fluid is pumped down the 4 1/2″ production pipe and pressured up until the rock behind the pipe and cement at the perforations breaks down or “fractures”. That pressure point is referred to as the “breakdown pressure point”. Pumping continues until the allotted sand has been delivered into the fracturing rock through the perforations via the frac fluid. Keep in mind the “fracking” occurs at an isolated zone 4000 feet below the protected ground water. After the frac job the well is shut in, all equipment except the “frac tanks” is released and the flow back of the fluid commences. Flow back is controlled to recover the fluid into surface tanks for disposal and done at a rate to ensure the sand stays in the formation as a proppant to hold the artificially created fractures open. Frac designs and computer modeling of the rock lithology show fracturing reaches out from the well bore horizontally 250 – 700 feet depending on the size of the frac. Vertical growth during the frac job is usually limited to under 200 feet and can be controlled during the frac job by adjusting the injection rate.

    There you have it. Everything from depth of surface water to be protected, chemical composition of cement, number and placement of centralizers to the disposal of the recovered frac fluid is regulated. Gas in water wells from what we do? I don’t think so. Not if rules are followed. Sure there are accidents and certainly an occasional operator that gets away with not complying but all the regulations in the world won’t cure that. Nor will a ban on fracturing.

    [Moderator: Needless overuse of boldface removed. – Bob R.]

  5. Chris I
    June 1, 2011 at 9:06 am Link

    Steve,

    So you believe that we should just listen to “industry experts” when making environmental policy decisions?

    I would think that we would want the EPA to decide on the environmental impact…
    http://www.propublica.org/article/former-bush-epa-official-says-fracking-exemption-went-too-far

  6. Bob R.
    June 1, 2011 at 10:27 am Link

    To JK: Duh, it’s not the water itself that burns, but rather the methane and other by-products forced into people’s well supplies.

    To Steve: If there’s one thing Texas is known for, it’s stringent environmental regulations. Of course, we the public aren’t allowed to know exactly what’s in fracking fluid, so that makes it more difficult to test for ill effects.

    Recent Duke study on Fracking:
    http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffmcmahon/2011/05/10/fracking-study-exposes-natural-gas-industry-to-regulation/

  7. or-ee-gone
    June 2, 2011 at 7:06 am Link

    There’s an article on Portland Tribune about Tigard MAX

    http://portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=130697847685535300

    Not much new info, but it’s interesting to see the project moving along.

    My thoughts on the subject, which I know has been hashed over on this blog before:

    Trimet and the local governments should strive to break the mold on this project, rather than going with the same old MAX line.
    I’d really like to see effective, high capacity transit here even if it costs more.

    That likely means a mix of commuter rail and MAX and bus improvements. They should address Yamhill county commuters, SW Portland commuters, but also major “town centers” like Bridgeport Village and Washington Square.

    One should eventually be able to take efficient, fast transit throughout WashCo as well as into downtown Portland.

    I’d like to see a MAX line with tunnels through SW Portland, in combination with a surface alignment along parts of Barbur and Pacific Hwy, in addition to a commuter rail option through Yamhill that allows for both commuters and recreational trips thereby opening up the Yamhill region to people without the need for cars.

    Transit should enhance the current WES alignment and make it easy to get to Washington Square and PCC Sylvania, and convert parts of Barbur and downtown Tigard to pedestrian and shopping friendly zones.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts…

  8. EngineerScotty
    June 2, 2011 at 11:28 am Link

    To follow up on or-ee-gone’s remarks; Tigard has identified seven “station areas” within its city limits. Serving all of them with a single line isn’t really possible; but four of them are adjacent to the 99W corridor.

    The areas identified are:

    * Downtown Tigard
    * The Tigard Triangle (the area between OR99W, OR217, and I-5)
    * The area around 99W and SW Gaarde and SW McDonald streets (west of downtown, and just below the SE side of Bull Mountain
    * King City
    * Washington Square
    * Scholls Ferry/SW 121st (note that Scholls Ferry forms the Tigard/Beaverton city boundary in this area; and there’s quite a bit of high-density development on the Beaverton side of the street in this neighborhood).
    * Bridgeport Village

    One bus service configuration change I would like to see in the area (I’m not too far away) would be for the 62, rather than turning northeast at Murrayhill and heading up to Washington Square, would be for it to instead head east on Walnut (and possibly Gaarde) and rendezvousing with the 12 (or a future HCT line) somewhere in Tigard–and then extending the 56 out Scholls Ferry to Murrayhill and the Barrows Road area. Oh, and put BRT in on Scholls Ferry–the street is wide enough, with enough adjacent density, to merit a bit nicer service than it presently has.

  9. jimkarlock
    June 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link

    Bob R.: Recent Duke study on Fracking:
    JK: Another report on energy:
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/05/31/linbd_fossil_fuels/index.html

    Thanks
    JK

  10. Bob R.
    June 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm Link

    Another report on energy

    If by “report” you mean an editorial penned by someone from an anti-alt-energy advocacy “think tank”.

    (Advocates for various policy positions have every right to pen editorials, of course. But it’s hardly a “report” in the journalistic or even neo-academic think tank sense.)

  11. Jason Barbour
    June 2, 2011 at 11:03 pm Link

    While we discuss ‘all rail and bicycles all the time,’ there’s some eye-opening data on TriMet’s neglect of its bus system.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXUzmpDUccU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fVn_IjycrM

    (I am not associated with those who put the videos online.)

    Make sure to watch the first video at 8:55, when they start talking about how much more money has to be spent to keep the old buses running (IMO, would have probably been avoided had “we have to do this” rail funding not choked out bus funding).

    Second video at 2:08 says TriMet will stick with mostly all-diesel buses. :( At 6 minutes, there’s discussion that proposed EPA regulations in 2014 will prohibit new all-diesel buses!

  12. EngineerScotty
    June 2, 2011 at 11:42 pm Link

    Thanks for the links, Jason… though a minor clarification–the proposed 2014 regulations may essentially prohibit new diesel busses going forward, though the final form of those regs have not been determined. And of course, the regs will only affect new bus sales; existing bus fleets will not be affected.

    An interesting question, though: Given the current state of decripitude of TriMet’s fleet, especially the large number of Flxible busses (a now-defunct bus company), is it better to buy more diesel busses, or fewer hybrids?

  13. Ron Swaren
    June 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm Link

    Second video at 2:08 says TriMet will stick with mostly all-diesel buses. :( At 6 minutes, there’s discussion that proposed EPA regulations in 2014 will prohibit new all-diesel buses!

  14. EngineerScotty
    June 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm Link

    Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to consider the LO Streetcar next week.

  15. Dave H
    June 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm Link

    Does anyone know why TriMet doesn’t mention “transfer to Amtrak” as they stop near Union Station? Every time I take the 77 it seems like someone asks where the stop is.

  16. jimkarlock
    June 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm Link

    Bob R.: Good News, as long as you don’t mind your drinking water catching on fire.
    JK: Looks like you got lied to again by the greenies. This source (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/04/the-gasland-movie-a-fracking-shame-director-pulls-video-to-hide-inconvenient-truths/#more-41049) claims that natural gas mixed with well water has been occurring for a long time BEFORE fracking. The source also claims that the director of that film knew this an considered it not relevant!

    Thanks
    JK

  17. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 1:59 am Link

    Looks like you got lied to again by the greenies.

    Looks like you got fooled by Wattsupwiththat, as has most of the conservative repeat-without-reading blogosphere.

    Wattsupwiththat’s terrible history of distortion and just plain getting things wrong aside, the article you link to contains nothing which refutes the testimony of the multiple persons interviewed in the movie Gasland.

    The fact that natural gas in well water is a recorded natural phenomenon does not mean that the people in the movie were not experiencing this as something new for them personally, nor does it let Fracking off the hook at all.

    As the Duke University study states (and not just some “greenie” movie), hydraulic fracturing is linked to increased levels of methane in adjacent drinking water wells.

    So far in this thread you’ve characterized advocacy editorials as “reports” and conspiracy theory web site postings as a “source” and whipped out the term “lied to” without pointing to any specific thing in Gasland which was an demonstrable lie.

  18. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 2:15 am Link

    After watching the (edited, truncated) video of Watts questioning Gasland director Josh Fox, and re-reading the entirety of Watt’s blog post, an analogy for Watts’ argument goes something like this:

    You’ve made a movie where homeowners claim to have been the victims of arson, yet you omitted critical studies showing that other homes in that area have burned naturally and accidentally, at various times, for decades, therefore you are a journalistic fraud and your movie is a sham and the people in it are therefore liars and that arson could never ever have been a cause of those particular fires. Plus, videos of things happening in the Arctic which completely refute anything which ever happened in Colorado. QED.

  19. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 2:35 am Link

    Bob R.: Wattsupwiththat’s terrible history of distortion and just plain getting things wrong aside,
    JK: You cite the laughable Joe Romm as a credible source!

    Give me a break! He is a partisan hack who has no respect for the truth. He even implied holocaust denying by calling watts a “denier”. (In return I call Romm a green shirt!)

    But, more importantly, what is your evidence that the source I cited is wrong?

    The linked video shows the movie’s director as saying he knew about reports of burning water in the areas since he 1930s. That is a crucial item that he should have been disclosed in the film but didn’t. And he needed to show how this burning water is different than those typical in the area for 80 years. He also needed to explain why the government analysis showed the gas was not typical of deeply formed gas, unlike the gas released by fracking. He did not. Please look at the data instead of a partisan like Joe Romm.

    To make a credible case Fox would have to show that this particular well is somehow different than those over the last 80 years, not just that it recently happened. (Because one expects new cases of burning water to pop up regularly if it has been happening for over 80 years! Its not like the wells that have a problem is fixed in time with no new ones popping up and no old ones stopping – that’s not how the world typically works)

    Please look at the data, not the source of the report. (Unless you have a history of looking and finding BS.)

    Thanks
    JK

  20. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 11:19 am Link

    You cite the laughable Joe Romm as a credible source!

    Yes, I do. And the specific post I linked to shows just how Wattsupwiththat gets things wrong. Calling Joe Romm “laughable” doesn’t change that.

    Give me a break! He is a partisan hack who has no respect for the truth.

    I love it when political candidates and party committee members declare someone else to be a “partisan hack”.

    He even implied holocaust denying by calling watts a “denier”.

    No, he called Watts a climate science denier. This happens to be true.

    The fact that of the many types of deniers out there includes a subset of people who are holocaust deniers does not mean that calling someone a climate science denier means you’re invoking the holocaust.

    And, as you’ve been told dozens of times, this is not a debate-over-global-warming blog. The existence of human-caused climate change is the baseline for discussion here.

    You were allowed to post links from a denialist web site because the topic was Fracking rather than global warming specifically, and because this is an open-topic thread. But getting into a little spat over who’s “laugable” by referencing a widely-debunked denialist blog that’s prone to spreading conspiracy theories is the real “laughable” item here, and it’s gone on long enough.

    And I see Steve is now getting in on the game by posting exactly the same link.

  21. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm Link

    Bob R.: This happens to be true.
    JK: Now you refer us to blog by some anonymous person called “Tamino”, who has been posting on blogs for years – usually spreading easily debunked alarm.
    Thanks
    JK

  22. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm Link

    Back in the good ol’ days, JK used to chastise folks who dared to question the credibility of people and organizations which he referenced, stating that one should look only at the ideas and not assume bias just because of who someone is.

    Those days are long gone, apparently.

  23. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm Link

    A few select quotes from Steve’s 2nd link, the preamble to the “ten fracking things” which is longer than the list itself:

    • The whole anti-fracking movement has its head where the sun doesn’t shine
    • After all, even “progressives” need to keep up empty traditions.
    • just where were the expected hordes of treehuggers
    • legions of apocalypse-sometime-soon green street protestors

    Such credible, scientific, non-partisan, non-hackery.

    But the best quote is here:

    That is not to say that accidents don’t happen or haven’t taken place. It’s the nature of the technological advancement beast that accidents – even negligence – will occur.

    Something which I agree with entirely. Nobody is alleging that Fracking is done with deliberate malice or the goal of causing environmental damage, but rather that there are consequences from the process including accidents and negligence, and that better regulation, monitoring, and harm mitigation are required.

    Better links, please.

  24. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm Link

    But, we are drifting off topic –
    What do you say about Fox’s own admission of knowing that water in that area has been “burning” since the 1930’s and his NOT including that in the “documentary”?

    Thanks
    JK

  25. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm Link

    Bob R: Such credible, scientific, non-partisan, non-hackery.
    JK: Yeah, sounds like Joe Romm. (Did you catch Romm’s defense of calling for punishing those who disagree with him?)

    Back to topic: How about Fox’s own admission of knowing that water in that area has been “burning” since the 1930’s

    Thanks
    JK

  26. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link

    What do you say about Fox’s own admission of knowing that water in that area has been “burning” since the 1930’s and his NOT including that in the “documentary”?

    I already addressed that.

    How about Fox’s own admission of knowing that water in that area has been “burning” since the 1930’s

    I already addressed that, too.

    Did you catch Romm’s defense of calling for punishing those who disagree with him?

    Nope, don’t think he ever did such a thing. But you may be referring to this tempest in a teapot.

    Meanwhile, actual climate scientists are routinely subjected to death threats.

  27. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm Link

    JK: Sorry, I missed that reply:
    Bob R: After watching the (edited, truncated) video of Watts questioning Gasland director Josh Fox, and re-reading the entirety of Watt’s blog post, an analogy for Watts’ argument goes something like this:
    JK: Nit: Watts was not in the video – Watts is much older, a retired meterologist.

    Bob R: You’ve made a movie where homeowners claim to have been the victims of arson, yet you omitted critical studies showing that other homes in that area have burned naturally and accidentally, at various times, for decades, therefore you are a journalistic fraud and your movie is a sham and the people in it are therefore liars
    JK: Pretty much –
    1) He presented gas in water as unusual and therefore caused by fracking.
    2) He did not include the fact that gas in water was NOT unusual and therefore may NOT have been caused by fracking.
    3) He made no effort to show that this was not a co-incidence.

    If gas in water was an everyday thing, then no one would care. Therefore he left out the fact that it was common in the area.

    That is a serious an material omission which casts doubt on the entire rest of the film.
    QED

  28. Jason Barbour
    June 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link

    Just read the article on OregonLive about Amtrak’s continuing service suspension between the Pacific Northwest and Minnesota:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/06/north_dakota_flooding_suspends_portland_amtrak_service.html

    (One-sentence rundown: Service between Spokane, WA, and St. Paul, MN, totally canceled; Spokane/Seattle and Spokane/Portland services provided by buses.)

    The crazy thing is over the last year plus I’ve been regularly riding Greyhound, I’ve received better service than that!

  29. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link

    That is a serious an material omission which casts doubt on the entire rest of the film.

    If you (or Watts) had phrased it simply thus, I would not have taken as much of an issue with you.

    But you went for “lied to” and had to get the “greenies” sneer in there as well.

    The Gasland film is a point-of-view documentary, the director makes it quite clear from the very beginning of this film that he’s involved (he is being offered a Fracking lease for his property), and that he’s an activist.

    None of this is a “lie”.

    In the Watts post, he debates the relevance of including various background material. For this he is vilified as though he were deliberately hiding his motivations — yet strangely he readily and openly discusses what material he included and did not include when asked in a public forum.

    None of that undermines the Duke study, either. (And the Duke researchers are calling for further research, not a ban on Fracking or anything like that.)

    Still, now that you mention it, “serious and material omissions” is par for the course on Wattsupwiththat.

    And it’s rich to accuse folks of being a “hack” when earlier in this thread you attempted to obfuscate the water-catching-fire comment by claiming that was impossible because water is fully oxidized, when of course what is meant that compounds _in_ the drinking water are catching fire.

    If someone claimed to be poisoned by drinking water on an overseas trip, would you similarly complain that food poisoning from drinking water is impossible because H2O is not poisonous? (Or will you further obfuscate this very comment by bringing up hyponatremia?)

  30. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm Link

    Bob R: The Gasland film is a point-of-view documentary, the director makes it quite clear from the very beginning of this film that he’s involved (he is being offered a Fracking lease for his property), and that he’s an activist.

    None of this is a “lie”.
    JK: What do you call it when someone leaves out a serious and material fact that undermines their whole argument?

    Admitting to a point of view does not make it OK to leave out facts that devastate you claim. That is still a lie by omission.

    Thanks
    JK

  31. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link

    Because I don’t think the fact is quite as material as you make it out to be. From the video on the Watts site, it looks like the director was attempting to explain why he didn’t think it was relevant, but the video cuts off abruptly.

    If omissions are devastating, then Watts is similarly devastated.

  32. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm Link

    I assume you also caught the part where he said it was biogenic gas.

    Thanks
    JK

  33. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm Link

    Yes, I caught the part where a slide was inserted about biogeneic gas and the director’s comments on the matter were partially truncated.

    None of this changes the Duke study:

    In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, we document systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shalegas extraction. (Emphasis added)

    But they’re all just lying greenie partisan hacks.

  34. EngineerScotty
    June 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm Link

    Re: Amtrak Empire Builder out of service due to flooding in North Dakota.

    A downside of rail for long-distance travel is that it is more easily disrupted by things such as floods; I would suspect that the lack of service on the western side of the route is due to equipment shortages.

    Of course, bus service can also be taken out by floods–it seems that every few years, flooding in Centralia pretty much knocks out any ground travel between Portland and Seattle for a cupla days.

    Whether or not Amtrak ought to be in the business of running inprofitable cross-country rail service, particularly lines such as the Empire Builder that cross about a thousand miles of nowhere between major population centers in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes reason, is an interesting policy questions. It’s not an attractive option for Portland-Minneapolis travel (unless you really like trains); an airline ticket costs similar money; and budget travelers can take the bus instead. Amtrak’s NE Corridor service are profitable (which is, I suspect, why Rep. Mica and others have proposed they be privatized), but the rest of the system is not. Yet rural-state legislators essentially demand that daily trains serve places like Minot, ND.

  35. R A Fontes
    June 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm Link

    Yesterday, Amtrak canceled my wife’s Monday ticket for St Paul. She ended up buying Amtrak tickets for the trip through Sacramento to Omaha for a family get together. This was at a significantly higher price even with the full refund on the St Paul trip.

    Your comments make me wonder how frequently the premium European and Asian train services get knocked out by nature.

  36. EngineerScotty
    June 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm Link

    Several Japanese passenger trains were apparently lost in the tsunami… but any mode of travel is susceptible to the whims of Ma Nature.

  37. Tim Walsh
    June 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm Link

    To be fair, if Amtrak and BNSF had their way, the Builder wouldn’t be running across Devils Lake at all. Pressure from the North Dakota congressional delegation has kept the trains on their present route across a constantly rising lake, rather than an alternate route to the south.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Builder#Flooding_problems

  38. jimkarlock
    June 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm Link

    Bob R:. …associated with shalegas extraction.
    JK: That means they couldn’t prove a cause and effect relationship.

    Thanks
    JK

  39. Bob R.
    June 5, 2011 at 11:38 pm Link

    That means they couldn’t prove a cause and effect relationship.

    They didn’t claim to.

    But it’s one heck of a correlation (PDF):

    Methane concentrations were detected generally in 51 of 60 drinking-water wells (85%) across the region, regardless of gas industry operations, but concentrations were substantially higher closer to natural-gas wells (Fig. 3). Methane concentrations were 17-times higher on average (19.2 mg CH4 L?1) in shallow wells from active drilling and extraction areas than in wells from nonactive areas (1.1 mg L?1 on average; P < 0.05; Fig. 3 and Table 1). The average methane concentration in shallow groundwater in active drilling areas fell within the defined action level (10–28 mg L?1) for hazard mitigation recommended by the US Office of the Interior (13), and our maximum observed value of 64 mg L?1 is well above this hazard level (Fig. 3). Understanding the origin of this methane, whether it is shallower biogenic or deeper thermogenic gas, is therefore important for identifying the source of contamination in shallow groundwater systems. (Emphasis added)

    More study will help determine this. But it’s striking that we live in an era where some groups demand multiple studies for something as simple as a curb extension, a marked crosswalk, or a bike lane, but in which an industry can massively expand activities which can impact properties for miles around without study, and until the recent public outcry, not even have to disclose what chemicals they’re pumping in and out of the ground and not have to treat those chemicals (whatever they may be) as hazardous waste, and swear property owners to secrecy should any legal issues come up regarding well contamination.

  40. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 12:01 am Link

    I assume that you know that simple marked crosswalks never improve safety & in some situations increase pedestrian fatalities.

    That sort of thing is why us engineer types ask for data instead of feelings.

    PS: I have never seen data on curb extension safety. The only answer is that they make cars more likely to stop for the ped. That is different than their effect on accident rate. That many PDOT people cannot tell the difference is telling of their lack of professionalism.

    Kinda reminds me of the current rush to make one-way streets back to two way, completely ignoring (or worse yet dismissing) data from the 1950s when most conversions to one way occurred. see: http://www.portlandfacts.com/onewaystreets.htm

    thanks
    JK

  41. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 12:16 am Link

    The only answer is that they make cars more likely to stop for the ped.

    Which is irrelevant how, exactly? Any reduction in lawbreaking by motorists without requiring increases in law enforcement or surveillance seems good to me.

    The increased freedom and convenience for the pedestrian, being able to cross the street more readily within the structure of existing laws, is a benefit too.

    So you’ve got a reduction in lawlessness, an increase in convenience, and (you allege) no documented major change in safety. Still a net plus for everyone, including motorists, who are obviously responding positively to increased visibility.

    telling of their lack of professionalism.

    That you can’t go three comments without trying to smear one group of people or another is telling.

    Kinda reminds me of the current rush to make one-way streets back to two way

    Not exactly such a rush around Portland (and all those unprofessional types at PBOT (not “PDOT”)), what with the implementation just last month of the Lovejoy-Northrup couplet, and just a couple of months ago with the eastside Burnside-Couch couplet, and what with all the millions being spent to upgrade the 99E-to-Grand/MLK couplet viaduct including the addition of a merge lane just north of the Ross Island bridge.

    But watch out, a pedestrian could get run over by all the fast-moving goalposts.

  42. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 12:28 am Link

    Bob R: Which is irrelevant how, exactly? Any reduction in lawbreaking by motorists without requiring increases in law enforcement or surveillance seems good to me.
    JK: I wasn’t very clear. Let me try again:

    On several occasions I have asked PDOT people to produce information showing that bubble curbs increase safety (not odds of a car letting a ped cross) and they have never come up with actual safety data. They just show data on the increased odds that a car will stop for a waiting pedestrian, not even realizing that that is different from safety. Hence my comment about the lack of professionalism at PDOT.

    Bob R: .. and (you allege) no documented major change in safety.
    JK: That is NOT what I said – I said:
    I have never seen data on curb extension safety
    That is different than there being “no documented major change in safety”.

    Thanks
    JK

  43. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 12:29 am Link

    Speaking of crosswalk safety, many folks point to this 2005 FHWA study. Demons and details dancing hand-in-hand, the conclusion states:

    Marked crosswalks alone (i.e., without traffic-calming treatments, traffic signals and pedestrian signals when warranted, or other substantial crossing improvement) are insufficient and should not be used under the following conditions:

    • Where the speed limit exceeds 64.4 km/h (40 mi/h).
    • On a roadway with four or more lanes without a raised median or crossing island that has (or will soon have) an ADT of 12,000 or greater.
    • On a roadway with four or more lanes with a raised median or crossing island that has (or soon will have) an ADT of 15,000 or greater.

    That study also concludes that crosswalks without signals or other treatments on high-speed multilane roadways degrade pedestrian safety.

    So if that’s the gist of the studies JK alludes to, I guess that’s one of the rare points of agreement that I have with JK: In areas where there are pedestrians, we should lower speed limits below 40mph and make sure to provide additional supporting infrastructure beyond just paint on the pavement.

  44. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 12:33 am Link

    That is NOT what I said – I said: I have never seen data on curb extension safety

    Yes, that’s why I made the comment about moving goalposts. When I originally stated that studies being requested for curb extensions, crosswalks, and bike lanes, I didn’t refer specifically to safety. Your comment brought that in. There are other noted benefits.

    But in any case, regarding bike lanes, there’s some good news on that front: Early PBOT counts show that since the buffered bike lane on Holgate, there has been a sharp reduction in injury crashes.

  45. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 12:47 am Link

    Here’s an NYC study published by the Transportation Research Board and presented at the Urban Street Symposium in 1999:

    Calming New York City Intersections (PDF)

    The study, in part, examines the safety of “neckdowns”, or what other cities such as Portland call “curb extensions”:

    Neckdowns have reduced overall severity rates in four out of six surveyed areas in New York City. In two of three locations, they reduced the injury severity when a vehicle does
    crash into a pedestrian. This is attributed to the fact that the neckdown limits the space
    available for undisciplined driving and subsequent vehicle speed.

    The study notes several caveats, including a relative lack of crash data even in Pedestrian-rich New York City, and also notes the intersection designs which appear to be an important variable, for at least one studied intersection shows a worsening of safety.

    Given that there is one local (Albany) study showing clear benefits to all road users in terms of lawful behavior and convenience, and that this NYC study points in the right direction, I say let’s build more curb extensions and continue to study the issue with a larger data set.

  46. Aaron Hall
    June 6, 2011 at 1:29 am Link

    Isn’t it just common sense that the less time a pedestrian takes to cross a street (i.e. narrower crossings), the safer the intersection? … no matter WHERE the intersection is? Is that something that really needs to be “proven” with multiple studies? I suppose people without common sense may need that proof, but there will always be a few who can never be convinced regardless.

  47. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 1:47 am Link

    Bob R.’s quote: Neckdowns have reduced overall severity rates in four out of six surveyed areas in New York City. In two of three locations, they reduced the injury severity when a vehicle does crash into a pedestrian. This is attributed to the fact that the neckdown limits the space available for undisciplined driving and subsequent vehicle speed.
    JK: Its always good to look at the details:
    * Only 3 of the 6 intersections’ data was statistically significant.
    * the remaining 3 for vehicle/ped crashes:
    1. 7% MORE crashes; 7% less severity
    2. 31% MORE crashes; 24% less severity
    3. 4% MORE crashes; 97% MORE severity

    That 97% more severe could easily wipe out the 7 & 24% reductions. We would need more detailed data to tell.

    In any case I don’t see that any useful reduction can be claimed until that 97% more severe problem is figured out.

    Further I note the descriptions of these intersections:

    1. there is a tremendous amount of pedestrian activity on Restaurant Row (West 46 Street between Eighth and Tenth Avenues in Manhattan, four blocks away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal),

    JK Comment 1: Would that be the bus terminal at the end of the bus way that carries tens of thousands of people per hour – far more people than move in any part of Portland (and more than any light rail line)?

    JK Comment 2: Where is there a similar situation in Portland (or any other city for that matter)?

    2. Flatbush Avenue is a very congested through street in downtown Brooklyn with a large amount of pedestrian activity.

    JK Comment: Where is there a similar situation in Portland. Would this result be duplicated if it were not “a very congested through street … with a large amount of pedestrian activity.”

    3. diagonal street network, the elevated train and speed of vehicles along Queens Boulevard or the design of the neckdowns themselves.
    JK Comment: Where is there a similar situation in Portland.

    I didn’t see a link to your Albany reference, so it looks like we still have nothing to apply to ordinary cities and ordinary streets.

    In the absence of solid data, PDOT is just experimenting on the people of Portland. (See my earlier opinion of PDOT.)

    Thanks
    JK

  48. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 3:00 am Link

    I didn’t see a link to your Albany reference, so it looks like we still have nothing to apply to ordinary cities and ordinary streets.

    I gave you the link to the Albany reference years ago, and you dismissed it for the same reasons you say you dismiss what PBOT sent you. The Albany study is the one which shows improved motorist behavior with the installation of curb extensions.

    If PBOT sent you something different than the Albany study, even though you rejected it, I’d love to see what it actually was.

    Here’s the link (PDF):
    Pedestrian Safety Impacts of Curb Extensions: A Case Study

    If that was the report given to you, then perhaps PBOT employees are to be forgiven regarding their “professionalism” for giving to you, as it has “SAFETY” right there in the title.

    If so, you should address your complaints about “professionalism” to the study authors at the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University, but be careful, because those “engineer types” can be so sneaky.

    Or perhaps you should address your complaints about “professionalism” to the Research Unit at the Oregon Department of Transportation in Salem, who still publishes this paper on their web site, or perhaps the Federal Highway Administration who also commissioned the study.

  49. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 3:28 am Link

    Oh, Albany OREGON not Albany NY! (You were writing about NYC just before.)

    I recall that .

    That is the study that was collecting data showing that more cars stopped to let peds cross AND observed one ped almost getting hit!

    ————– As I posted in late 2009 to Aaron W. ——————-

    That reports seems to keep coming up when I ask about safety.

    Unfortunately, the only mention that I found about safety was this:
    One near “multiple-threat” crash was observed when a school bus yielded in the near lane and a vehicle in the far lane nearly collided with the crossing pedestrian Page 17

    It goes on to say:

    The findings of this research suggest that curb extensions contribute to a significant reduction in the average number of vehicles that pass a waiting pedestrian before yielding to the pedestrian. Basically pedestrians approaching from the curb extension side experienced a vehicle yielding sooner than those coming from the non-improved side of the crosswalk. This reduction in the average number of passing vehicles yielding is best explained by the increased visibility offered by the curb extension. page 21

    I answer by saying yes, when you put people closer to fast moving cars, you would expect more drivers to see them and stop. However you would also expect a few more people to get killed by drugged / stoned / drunk drivers because they are closer to fast moving heavy machinery.

    I have yet to see any data on this.

    I have heard that there was one accident caused by a curb extension where kids were playing and one pushed another who ended up in front of a car. Again, it is standard practice in industry to keep fast moving heavy equipment and people separated, not to put them closer together!
    ——————————-

    I still see nothing to change my opinion that PDOT is performing experiments on Portland’s citizens.

    Thanks
    JK

  50. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 8:39 am Link

    I find it rather interesting and telling that JK seems to suggest that curb extensions–a rather trivial and harmless civil engineering exercise, with ample benefits described in the literature, ought to require a higher standard of proof than hydraulic fracturing. He seems to be asserting that public works departments that wish to build curb extensions must bear the burden of proof of their usefulness, despite the fact that the most severe consequence is annoyed motorists (and that PBOT’s persistence in building them without JK’s demanded “proof” is tantamount to “conducting experiments on citizens, as if transportation engineers were grabbing passersby off the street and hauling them off to a secret research laboratory like an episode of The X-Files); but with fracking, the burden of proof is on opponents of the practice, even though the possibility of severe harmful effects cannot be discounted.

  51. Ron Swaren
    June 6, 2011 at 11:08 am Link

    I have cited the Everett WA, “Double Tall” (double deck) buses as a plausible alternative to light rail expansion in the Portland-Vancouver area. Everett’s Community Transit purchased theirs, mainly using federal and state grant money for $860,000 each.

    However, the Europeans have been using two-level buses quite extensively so there are a considerable number on the after market. (Just for fun)At this website they’re decent looking but most of them have considerable mileage and prices are E50,000 and up although I did see one ( a NeoPlan Bistroliner) for E19,000.
    http://autoline.info/s/buses-double-decker-bus–c5tk2442.html?page=2

    Would the shipping cost be much more than two 40 foot containers (about the same volume)?

  52. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 11:19 am Link

    Ron,

    Artics probably work better than double-deckers in rapid transit applications, simply due to boarding speed issues. I know lots of places use doubles in urban transport (I’ve used the doubles in HK extensively); but dwell times for the Hong Kong bus system frequently border on the ridiculous. And when the bus is full (which it often is); the single stairwell to the upper deck becomes a choke point, as boarding effectively stops until all the disembarking passengers come down the stairs, at which point the embarking passengers can start heading up.

    Whether models designed for European roadways and emissions standards can be imported into the US, I have no idea.

  53. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 11:47 am Link

    I do gotta ask one question, what with all the discussion of fracking.

    Why are we discussing Battlestar Galactica in this thread? :)

  54. some body
    June 6, 2011 at 11:50 am Link

    “Again, it is standard practice in industry to keep fast moving heavy equipment and people separated, not to put them closer together!”

    Yes, let’s never ever let people cross the street!

  55. Jeff F
    June 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says:

    Why are we discussing Battlestar Galactica in this thread? :)

    My question is, how did such a creative group of writers fail to produce more than one swear word for an entire universe?

    They should have been forced to read A Clockwork Orange before every script conference.

  56. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm Link

    My question is, how did such a creative group of writers fail to produce more than one swear word for an entire universe?

    At least the show (and the characters portrayed) aren’t named after the universal profanity in question, unlike a certain certain Belgian cartoon show….

    They should have been forced to read A Clockwork Orange before every script conference.

    Or listen to Ralphie Parker’s father’s conversations with his malfunctioning oil furnace in A Christmas Story.

  57. Ron Swaren
    June 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link

    the single stairwell to the upper deck becomes a choke point, as boarding effectively stops until all the disembarking passengers come down the stairs, at which point the embarking passengers can start heading up.

    I thought a lot of them had two stairways. Usually on express service, most of the passengers are either getting on, or getting off, but I could see how trying to herd people down a narrow corridor would be a time consumer. Good point. Found I had to do a bit of waiting on the streetcar the other day, and on the central circulator route it does move pretty slow. But the boarding was quick.

  58. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm Link

    Some doubles may well have two staircases; all the ones I’ve ever ridden in HK have but one.

    Longer (as opposed to taller) busses also permit more boarding doors.

  59. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: I find it rather interesting and telling that JK seems to suggest that curb extensions–a rather trivial and harmless civil engineering exercise,
    JK: Not harmless if they are getting people killed. And PDOT would not know because they have no data and cannot produce any.

    But we do have data that those little calming circles and speed bumps do delay emergency vehicles (and arguably get people killed) and PDOT ignores that data. Some of which was as a result of PORTLAND FIRE DEPARTMENT studies.

    EngineerScotty Says: with ample benefits described in the literature
    JK: Care to show us any safety data?

    EngineerScotty Says: He seems to be asserting that public works departments that wish to build curb extensions must bear the burden of proof of their usefulness, despite the fact that the most severe consequence is annoyed motorists
    JK: NO the most severe consequence is getting people killed. You know, like those zebra stripes do. That’s why Portland is finally dragging their heals about putting in more — after many years they finally realized they goofed.

    EngineerScotty Says: (and that PBOT’s persistence in building them without JK’s demanded “proof” is tantamount to “conducting experiments on citizens,
    JK: It is.

    EngineerScotty Says: but with fracking, the burden of proof is on opponents of the practice, even though the possibility of severe harmful effects cannot be discounted.
    JK: That is a very closely regulated field as Steve S. noted & you guys ignored. Apparently a film by a guy that admits leaving out crucial counter evidence is more credible.

    And quit trying to change the subject – the subject is dangerous PDOT street features.

    Thanks
    JK

  60. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm Link

    The subject seems to have changed from “curb extensions” to speed bumps. While both have traffic calming impacts, my post addressed curb extensions specifically, and curb extensions don’t interfere with the operations of emergency vehicles.

    (Also, more modern speed bumps are more accomodating of emergency vehicles than are some of the older designs).

    As far as the literature goes, here’s one article right off the bat, but there are plenty of sources which can be browsed by typing “curb extensions” into Google Scholar.

    And of course, the literature has a lot of material on the effect of traffic calming on emergency response times–and while the effect is not negligible; it is a) frequently overblown, b) easily mitigated, and c) often more than offset by reductions in traffic fatalities.

    But I also notice you’ve avoided the central point of my post entirely. If we’re going to oppose traffic calming on the grounds that a little old lady with a bad ticker might perish due to paramedics being slowed by speed bumps, then surely its rational to question the practice of busting rocks underground with high-pressure fluid streams, given ample evidence of negative impacts? In one case, you demand the utmost caution, even though your concerns have been extensively studied. In the other, you throw caution to the wind, lest the gummint prevent someone from making a buck.

  61. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm Link

    Please don’t ask us to read reams of reports. Especially telling us to Google it.

    If you really have data, provide a quote or two that shows your point. Like this:
    On 2-lane roads, marked crosswalk was
    associated with no difference in pedestrian
    crash rate; on wider roads with traffic
    volumes > 12 000 vehicles per day, marked
    crosswalks were associated with higher
    pedestrian crash rates

    and Crash risk was 2.1 times greater at sites with a
    marked crosswalk; almost all of the excess
    risk was due to 3.6-fold higher risk
    associated with marked crosswalks at sites
    with no traffic signal or stop sign

    1456.pdf, PDF Page 6

    A nice example of DOT bone heads getting people killed by doing the “obvious” instead of doing a study.

    Thanks
    JK

  62. Jeff F
    June 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm Link

    JK: If you really have data, provide a quote or two that shows your point. Like this

    Not harmless if they are getting people killed. And PDOT would not know because they have no data and cannot produce any.

    If curb extensions are getting people killed, shouldn’t you have the data to prove it? How is it contingent on PBOT to prove a negative?

  63. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm Link

    That is a very closely regulated field as Steve S. noted & you guys ignored. Apparently a film by a guy that admits leaving out crucial counter evidence is more credible.

    Nonsense. Apparently you keep ignoring the Duke study:

    Compared to other forms of fossil-fuel extraction, hydraulic fracturing is relatively poorly regulated at the federal level. Fracturing wastes are not regulated as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, fracturing wells are not covered under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and only recently has the Environmental Protection Agency asked fracturing firms to voluntarily report a list of the constituents in the fracturing fluids based on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. More research is also needed on the mechanism of methane contamination, the potential health consequences of methane, and establishment of baseline methane data in other locations. We believe that systematic and independent data on groundwater quality, including dissolved-gas concentrations and isotopic compositions, should be collected before drilling operations begin in a region, as is already done in some states. Ideally, these data should be made available for public analysis, recognizing the privacy concerns that accompany this issue. Such baseline data would improve environmental safety, scientific knowledge, and public confidence. (Emphasis added)

    Oooh, that heavy-handed Big Government, asking drilling companies to make voluntary disclosures. “Very closely regulated” indeed.

  64. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm Link

    And where is that quote from, JK? Without context, its meaningless. And comparing a marked crosswalk with no crosswalk is a different thing than comparing a marked crosswalk with a curb extension vs one without.

    Without having the actual paper to read, I can’t tell whether or not apples-vs-oranges comparisons are being made. Are they controlling for mid-block crossings vs those made at intersections? Are the differences the result of nobody trying to cross at all–i.e. does the study compare accidents to successful crossings, or simply note where the accidents are? (If there’s a marked crosswalk, where most crossing occur; it stands to reason that most accidents will occur there as well; but it doesn’t mean that the crosswalk is diminishing safety.)

    Posting links to lots of reports, including on google, is far better than an out-of-context paragraph with no citation. “1456.pdf” is not a valid citation, and if you type it into google you get a bunch of junk having nothing to do with the present topic.

    In addition, the grammar of your excerpt is so bad that I’d be surprised if it came out of a scholarly paper (assuming you have quoted it verbatim).

  65. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm Link

    PDOT ignores that data

    Is there any particular reason you ignore the name change from PDOT to PBOT? It’s come up multiple times now in this thread, and yet you press on with the old agency name. It’s been over two years ya know. Do you consider the name change to be illegal or illegitimate? Are you waiting for additional studies which conclude that the name has actually changed?

  66. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm Link

    Jeff F Says: If curb extensions are getting people killed, shouldn’t you have the data to prove it? How is it contingent on PBOT to prove a negative?
    JK: PBOT is the one putting in these things and it is their responsibility to be sure they are safer BEFORE they put them in.

    They have not done that. Hence my criticism.
    I hope you understand: My criticism is NOT that they are unsafe – it is that they DON”T KNOW that they are safe. As far as I can tell they have no data.

    Thanks
    JK

  67. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm Link

    Scotty, I think JK is referring to the 2005 FHWA study I linked to earlier:

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04100/04.cfm

    The key here is that the study cautions against painted crosswalks _alone_ in certain circumstances. It argues for more supporting infrastructure. It also points out that problems are most pronounced in areas with higher speed limits and/or higher traffic volumes

  68. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm Link

    My criticism is NOT that they are unsafe – it is that they DON”T KNOW that they are safe. As far as I can tell they have no data.

    Sounds like the Fracking industry.

  69. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: And where is that quote from, JK?
    JK: As noted at the botton of the quote:
    1456.pdf, PDF Page 6

    That means it is from a pdf named 1456 at page 6

    EngineerScotty Says: Without context, its meaningless. And comparing a marked crosswalk with no crosswalk is a different thing than comparing a marked crosswalk with a curb extension vs one without.
    JK: Who is comparing crosswalks with curb extensions?

    I just happened to notice that part as I skimmed the paper looking for things about curb extensions and presented it as an example of how you should have presented your “evidence”, instead of expecting one to slog through reams of pages to find something relevant.

    Of course, I did bring up crosswalks earlier as example of another popular DOT practice that was used on emotion instead of data and got people killed.

    EngineerScotty Says: Without having the actual paper to read,
    JK: HUH!! You read that paper before you referred it to me, didn’t you? (It is the paper in YOUR posing above)

    Thanks
    JK

  70. Jeff F
    June 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm Link

    JK, as far as I can tell from some minor reading, the use of curb extensions is well-established throughout the country, not just here in town. The results mentioned here (http://tinyurl.com/3twhqt6) make complete sense to me as a pedestrian and are logical and intuitive. Absent any evidence to the contrary, what is there to study?

    Curb extensions – also known as bulb-outs or neckdowns extend the sidewalk or curb line out into the parking lane, which reduces the effective street width. Curb extensions significantly improve pedestrian crossings by reducing the pedestrian crossing distance, improving the ability of pedestrians and motorists to see each other, and reducing the time that pedestrians are in the street.

    How does one study curb extensions and their impact on pedestrian safety without building them?

  71. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm Link

    Bob R. Says: Sounds like the Fracking industry.
    JK: That’s so yesterday, were on PDOT/BOT, proper citations and zebra stripes now.

    Thanks
    JK

  72. Bob R.
    June 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm Link

    That’s so yesterday

    Which, of course, is why you were still commenting on it less than two hours ago?

  73. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm Link

    The quotes you gave were buried in a table in the paper; one which surveys the literature and contains references to two other papers. The actual papers are:

    Zegeer CV, Stewart JR, Huang H, Lagerwey P. Safety effects of marked versus unmarked crosswalks at uncontrolled locations. Transportation Research Records. 2001;1723:56–68.

    Koepsell T, McCloskey L, Wolf M, et al. Crosswalk markings and the risk of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions in older pedestrians. Journal of the American Medical Assocation (JAMA). 2002;288: 2136–2143.

    Fortunately, neither paper is hidden behind a paywall, so we can read what they actually say, rather than speculate. In both cases, it is noted that marked crosswalks without other traffic treatments (stop signs, traffic lights, etc) can result, paradoxically, in greater levels of pedestrian collisions. On the other hand, traffic control devices are shown by both studies to decrease pedestrian fatalities. Quoting from the first paper:

    Marked crosswalks alone (i.e. without traffic calming treatments, traffic signals with pedestrian signals when warranted, or other substantial crossing improvements) are not recommended at uncontrolled crossing locations on multilane roads (i.e. 4 or more lanes) where traffic volume exceeds approximately 12,000 vehicles per day (with no raised medians) or approximately 15,000 ADT (with raised medians that serve as refuge areas). This recommendation is based on analysis of pedestrian crash experience, exposure data, and site features described earlier

    And the second paper, focusing on older pedestrians, has this to say:

    A possible explanation for the association we found is that marked crosswalks may give older pedestrians a false sense of security, based on their questionable assumptions about driver behavior. Tidwell and Doyle(26) found that nearly 40% of pedestrians incorrectly believed that traffic must stop for a pedestrian who is on the curb waiting to cross at a marked crosswalk. Washington and California laws require vehicles to stop when a pedestrian is actually present in a marked crosswalk, but even then many drivers fail to comply. (27,28) Baker et al(29) found that drivers involved in a sample of Maryland pedestrian–motor vehicle collisions had worse-than-average driving records.
    Saibel and colleagues(28) found that driver compliance was actually somewhat worse when the pedestrian was an older adult, and there were more “near misses” at marked than at unmarked crossings. The limited information available suggests that pedestrians are no less vigilant at marked crossings than at unmarked locations.(14,30) Oxley et al(31) found that older pedestrians tended to be more cautious than younger ones by waiting for longer gaps in traffic, but that this safety advantage was more than offset by their slower walking speeds.

    We found that the association between presence of a marked crosswalk and increased pedestrian–motor vehicle collision risk was essentially confined to sites where no traffic-control device was present to restrict the flow of vehicles. This result emerged from subgroup analyses and was not hypothesized in advance, so it should be interpreted with caution. Nonetheless, older pedestrians, who have slower walking speeds,(32) may be more vulnerable at crossing locations where vehicles can normally proceed unimpeded. The pedestrian may venture into the street at a sanctioned location and have the legal right of way, but drivers may be accustomed to proceeding
    through such an intersection without stopping. The pedestrian’s safety depends heavily on driver alertness and compliance. In contrast, when a traffic signal or stop sign is present, pedestrians have a much stronger guarantee that traffic will stop and allow them safe passage.

    Bottom line? Crosswalks alone may give pedestrians a false sense of security, as there is a cohort of drivers who seem to pay them no mind–thus more stringent traffic calming may be indicated to ensure pedestrian safety. In particular, crosswalks without any other crossing improvements are inappropriate for high-speed, high volume roadways.

    But its good to see that you seem to be coming around to the importance of robust traffic calming devices, such as what PBOT has been busy installing, and that simply painting lines in the roadway is insufficient to ensure pedestrian safety.

  74. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm Link

    But its good to see that you seem to be coming around to the importance of robust traffic calming devices, such as what PBOT has been busy installing, and that simply painting lines in the roadway is insufficient to ensure pedestrian safety.

    JK: ONLY after they show some data that they are safe.

    But its good to see that you are recognizing that the DOT-BOTs have been putting unsafe things on our streets for years.

    Thanks
    JK

  75. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm Link

    The “dangerous things being put on the street” are motorists who don’t bother to drive carefully, and thus mow down pedestrians–enabled by an attitude that holds that streets are and ought to be for the primary use of automobiles, and that pedestrians are intruding where they don’t belong.

    Obviously, some highways ought to be off-limits to pedestrian traffic (i.e. freeways), but those ought to be few and far between. Surface streets are and should be part of the pedestrian’s domain, and in places where pedestrians cannot safely cross, society is well within its rights to take technical measures to ensure they can.

    And for years, auto-centric departments of public works and transportation have tried to do this on the cheap (and without placing any real impositions on motorists) by simply painting lines on the street. And that includes in Portland.

    Finally, the problems are being rectified.

  76. EngineerScotty
    June 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm Link

    Interesting article on the “do bike riders pay their fair share?” question. (That said, a few flaws in the article are readily apparent…)

  77. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Finally, the problems are being rectified.
    JK: And the question still remains: are bubble curbs reducing harm? There appears to be no data, yet you appear to want to take a chance.

    Especially troubling after, overzealous safety promoters at the DOT-BOTs:
    * got people killed with misused zebra stripes.
    * got more people killed that saved with speed bumps.

    Are bubble curbs the next to finally be recognized as a hazard?

    Thanks
    JK

  78. Jeff F
    June 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm Link

    JK: And the question still remains: are bubble curbs reducing harm? There appears to be no data, yet you appear to want to take a chance.

    The question remains: what evidence do you bring to the table to suggest that the curb extensions do anything other than what they claim to do: decrease pedestrian time in the roadway and increase visibility of vehicle and pedestrian?

  79. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm Link

    The question remains: what evidence do you bring to the table to suggest that the curb extensions do anything other than what they claim to do: decrease pedestrian time in the roadway and increase visibility of vehicle and pedestrian?
    JK: That is not the question I have been raising.

    I am asking about safety.
    You are writing about convenience of pedestrians.

    Thanks
    JK

  80. ws
    June 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm Link

    I like the bulb outs as a driver. I can see the pedestrian better and they are not subject to being hidden behind a car.

    Some of them are too big and make it difficult to make a proper turn without going onto the sidewalk portion, possibly putting pedestrians in harm.

    The one outside of Cafe Umbria in the Pearl is way too bulbed out.

    I don’t think there’s any data because it has not been studied further.

  81. Jeff F
    June 6, 2011 at 9:37 pm Link

    I am asking about safety.
    You are writing about convenience of pedestrians.

    This is very disingenuous, JK. I am referring to the safety of pedestrians. Where do you get “convenience”?

    What is it about curb extensions that is a potential safety issue? What evidence do you offer to support this as a safety concern?

    On one hand you suggest that PBOT is endangering pedestrians with experimentation. On the other hand, you suggest that curb extensions are about “pedestrian convenience” (as if that was a problem) but refuse to provide evidence to suggest that they are dangerous to the same pedestrians.

    Seriously, JK, which is it?

  82. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 9:58 pm Link

    Jeff F Says: This is very disingenuous, JK. I am referring to the safety of pedestrians.
    JK: Don’t accuse me of being “disingenous” when you pretend to not know the difference between safety and convenience.

    I’ll spell it out for you:
    Convenience: Ease of crossing. Short wait time.
    Safety: Chances of getting hurt or killed.

    Jeff F Says: What is it about curb extensions that is a potential safety issue?
    JK: They place pedestrian closer to fast moving machinery. This is a red flag to anyone who knows anything about safety. Apparently except traffic departments and some posters here.

    Jeff F Says: What evidence do you offer to support this as a safety concern?
    JK: It is NOT my job to prove they are not safe – it is their job to prove it is safe before inflicting thousands of them on the populace. Especially after New York showed that they can double the severity of crashes involving pedestrians in some situations. Why are you having trouble with that simple concept

    Thanks
    JK

  83. some body
    June 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm Link

    “They place pedestrian closer to fast moving machinery. This is a red flag to anyone who knows anything about safety.”

    So are you saying that pedestrians should never ever be allowed to cross or be near a street?

    Do you think its OK that people are allowed to be reckless with the “fast moving machinery”?

    Do you think that a reasonable safety expert when confronted with a (potentially) hazardous situation would say that that the actual thing causing the hazard should be addressed if possible instead of just offering mitigation ideas?

    Overall, regarding closeness to traffic, there are many sidewalks that are right next to traffic lanes.

    “It is NOT my job to prove they are not safe”

    Aren’t you claiming that they’re not safe?

    Are you claiming that one should never ever proceed with something unless it can be proven beyond all doubts that it will be 100% safe?

    Are you saying that if a project has many benefits but there MIGHT be a small downside (one that’s outweighed by all the benefits), it shouldn’t be done?

    Do you agree that “Fracking” should not be allowed until it can be proven to be safe?

  84. jimkarlock
    June 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm Link

    some body Says:
    So are you saying that pedestrians should never ever be allowed to cross or be near a street?

    Please quit wasting our time.

    Thanks
    JK

  85. some body
    June 7, 2011 at 12:05 am Link

    “Please quit wasting our time.”

    But by saying that “They place pedestrian closer to fast moving machinery. This is a red flag to anyone who knows anything about safety.”, which can be re-written as “its unsafe for pedestrians to be near traffic”, aren’t you saying that, for safety, pedestrians shouldn’t cross or be near a street?

    Also, what about collisions that are avoided because curb extensions prevent cars and trucks from parking right up to the crosswalk, increasing the visibility between traffic and a pedestrian (such as a small child) that darts out across the road?

  86. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 1:00 am Link

    Also, what about collisions that are avoided because…
    What about them? Do you know the answer?

    That’s why we need real data.

    BTW, one reason freeways are far safer than arterials is that there are no peds or bikes, cars moving in different directions are separated by a barrier or wide space, there is no stopping/slowing for turns, and no turns across oncoming traffic and all traffic moves at about the same speed.

    The mixing of heavy machinery & peds is why light rial is so dangerous at over double the fatality rate of cars.

    Obviously it would be safer to keep peds completely away from heavy machinery, be it rail or cars. But this is not practical in the real world. That you don’t recognize this impracticality is stunning.

    Thanks
    JK

  87. Aaron Hall
    June 7, 2011 at 9:52 am Link

    jimkarlock Says: “Please quit wasting our time.”

    Good advice, Jim. Please keep that in mind before you post your next comment.

  88. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 9:54 am Link

    JK, please tone it down.

  89. Jeff F
    June 7, 2011 at 9:55 am Link

    JK: I’ll spell it out for you:
    Convenience: Ease of crossing. Short wait time.
    Safety: Chances of getting hurt or killed.

    It’s very obvious from the Albany study and the other document mentioned upthread that the chances of not getting hurt or killed are far better if (a) pedestrian and driver can see each other and (b) the time required to cross the road is shorter — hence less time in potential hazard.

    It’s not about “convenience” except that you’ve inserted that description for some reason, perhaps to belittle it.

    JK: They place pedestrian closer to fast moving machinery. This is a red flag to anyone who knows anything about safety. Apparently except traffic departments and some posters here.

    In fact they do nothing of the kind. Again, this is made quite clear in the documentation–they are deliberately inserted to reduce auto speeds.

    JK: It is NOT my job to prove they are not safe – it is their job to prove it is safe before inflicting thousands of them on the populace. Especially after New York showed that they can double the severity of crashes involving pedestrians in some situations. Why are you having trouble with that simple concept

    New York showed that about sidewalk extensions? I thought you said there was no data.

    The mixing of heavy machinery & peds is why light rial is so dangerous at over double the fatality rate of cars.

    We’ve thoroughly beaten that “statistic” to death in the past, JK. Your data does not support your contention, particularly here in the Portland area. Among other things, you persist in using passenger miles while referencing non-passenger deaths–but only for light rail.

  90. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 10:04 am Link

    JK: BTW, one reason freeways are far safer than arterials is that there are no peds or bikes, cars moving in different directions are separated by a barrier or wide space, there is no stopping/slowing for turns, and no turns across oncoming traffic and all traffic moves at about the same speed.

    Certainly. Freeways are pedestrian-free facilities, which makes them safe(r) for higher-speed travel. But nobody is talking about freeways; we’re talking about surface streets, where pedestrians have every right to be.

    The mixing of heavy machinery & peds is why light rial is so dangerous at over double the fatality rate of cars.

    Are you suggesting that we replace light-rail with subways?

    Obviously it would be safer to keep peds completely away from heavy machinery, be it rail or cars. But this is not practical in the real world. That you don’t recognize this impracticality is stunning.

    I think the impracticality is both a) recognized, and b) practically mitigated. Yet you seem to take the attitude that we shouldn’t bother to try. You decry the “old-school” solution (painted crosswalks) that is known to not be very effective, yet object loudly when more promising solutions (curb extensions, signalized crosswalks, etc–pretty much anything that either will inconvenience or slow down motorists, or cost more than a trivial amount of money) are used.

    How do you think we ought to manage pedestrian crossing of surface streets, in areas where both cars and people have need to mix?

    And you still haven’t answered the question as to why PBOT ought to be held to strict standards of evidence before being permitted to deploy recent trends in traffic calming, but its OK for fracking to occur despite the large number of unanswered questions about the practice.

  91. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 11:22 am Link

    EngineerScotty Says: JK, please tone it down.
    JK:Tone what down?
    It was Jeff F that said:
    This is very disingenuous, JK….

    Please make a similar request to him.

    Thanks
    JK

  92. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 11:42 am Link

    I didn’t see Jeff’s remark, but all should keep the discussion civil.

  93. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 11:47 am Link

    Jeff F Says: It’s very obvious from the Albany study and the other document mentioned upthread that the chances of not getting hurt or killed are far better if (a) pedestrian and driver can see each other and (b) the time required to cross the road is shorter — hence less time in potential hazard.
    JK: How is that statement relevant to the real world of drunk drivers, drunk peds, distractions etc. You seem to think that one can reason a little and come up with a conclusion that applies to the real world.

    Lets reason the sun: It obviously goes around the flat earth.
    Lets mark crosswalks to make the safer (oops – got people killed!)

    Only by gathering and analyzing data can one really know what is going on. Why do you appear to disagree with that?

    Jeff F Says: In fact they do nothing of the kind. Again, this is made quite clear in the documentation–they are deliberately inserted to reduce auto speeds.
    JK: Yep that was their intent. But what was the real effect? Only data will give us that answer.

    Jeff F Says: New York showed that about sidewalk extensions? I thought you said there was no data.
    JK: Please don’t give me that – you know my whole point (which no one seems to admit getting) is that we have no data to show bubble curbs are safe. And the NYC study DOE NOT show they are safe – it only applied to three intersections, only two of which were improved slightly and one was degraded seriously. That is NOT enough data to be useful for much of anything beyond those particular intersections. Also a given thing can be safe in some situations and not in others.

    Jeff F Says: Among other things, you persist in using passenger miles while referencing non-passenger deaths–but only for light rail.
    JK: Huh?? Non-passenger deaths (pedestrian) are included in the auto stats too. Or, are you rally suggesting NOT counting non-passengers killed by light rail AND counting non-passengers for cars?

    The reported rate I use is all deaths associated with the mode of transport. That means both cars & LRT get credit for hitting pedestrians and for drunks jumping in front of them. It is the method used by traffic professionals and the Federal Data. Why do you have a problem with that?

    Thanks
    JK

  94. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Certainly. Freeways are pedestrian-free facilities, which makes them safe(r) for higher-speed travel. But nobody is talking about freeways; we’re talking about surface streets, where pedestrians have every right to be.
    JK: I brought up freeways as an example of how you make roads as safe as possible, not as a topic for analysis.

    EngineerScotty Says: Are you suggesting that we replace light-rail with subways?
    JK: No. But it is interesting that many people who complain about auto safety are light rail supporters show don’t know light rail is far more dangerous than cars.

    EngineerScotty Says: I think the impracticality is both a) recognized,
    JK: I didn’t get that impression from some of the comments above.

    EngineerScotty Says: You decry the “old-school” solution (painted crosswalks) that is known to not be very effective,
    JK: “Not very effective”?? NO!!! – they are getting people killed – that is what I complain about.

    EngineerScotty Says: yet object loudly when more promising solutions (curb extensions,
    JK: How can you say that when there is NO data to show they are safe?

    EngineerScotty Says: signalized crosswalks, etc
    JK: When did I “object loudly” about these? Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    EngineerScotty Says: –pretty much anything that either will inconvenience or slow down motorists, or cost more than a trivial amount of money) are used.
    JK: Please support this with facts.

    EngineerScotty Says: How do you think we ought to manage pedestrian crossing of surface streets, in areas where both cars and people have need to mix?
    JK: Lets let the safety experts figure this out. My point is that bubble curbs are unproven and should not be widely used until they bother to gather and study data. I use the the term bother because they have been around for decades, and there has been plenty of time for real studies.

    It’s a bit like speed bumps still being put on Portland streets after some cities have actually starting removing them because it is being realized that they kill many more people than they save. But Portland activists continue to want them.

    EngineerScotty Says: And you still haven’t answered the question as to why PBOT ought to be held to strict standards of evidence before being permitted to deploy recent trends in traffic calming, but its OK for fracking to occur despite the large number of unanswered questions about the practice.
    JK: I don’t have much info about fracking, so I am not interested in discussing the details. I only noted that the popular anti fracking film intentionally left out material facts that about its main claim.

  95. Jeff F
    June 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm Link

    JK: How is that statement relevant to the real world of drunk drivers, drunk peds, distractions etc. You seem to think that one can reason a little and come up with a conclusion that applies to the real world.

    It’s true that I think that reason is a useful tool. I’m also not suggesting that any auto/pedestrian configuration will make up for distracted or impaired human beings.

    Reason tells us, legitimately, that lowering the exposure time of a pedestrian to vehicles decreases the likelihood of a collision. The math is pretty simple.

    JK: Huh?? Non-passenger deaths (pedestrian) are included in the auto stats too. Or, are you rally suggesting NOT counting non-passengers killed by light rail AND counting non-passengers for cars?

    The light rail numbers include no passengers killed at all, at least while they are passengers. Since auto numbers include a huge number of drivers & passengers being killed, it’s pretty clear from your data that riding LRT is vastly safer than riding in a car.

    And, again, your own numbers point to an average of one death per year in this region that can be attributed to LRT. Not only is that number insufficient to drawn conclusions, but the number has not increased even when the passenger miles has, what, quadrupled? If there was a correlation between passenger miles and deaths, it would be reflected in that very data.

  96. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Certainly. Freeways are pedestrian-free facilities, which makes them safe(r) for higher-speed travel. But nobody is talking about freeways; we’re talking about surface streets, where pedestrians have every right to be.

    JK: I brought up freeways as an example of how you make roads as safe as possible, not as a topic for analysis.

    The opposite side of the coin from building freeways everywhere, and excluding pedestrians, is building more auto-free facilities, and excluding motor vehicles. Both have their places, obviously; but its easier and cheaper to build safe havens for pedestrians than safe havens for vehicles.

    The exclusion of pedestrians from freeways (including the shoulders) is done primarily for the benefit of the pedestrian, not the motorist.

    EngineerScotty Says: Are you suggesting that we replace light-rail with subways?
    JK: No. But it is interesting that many people who complain about auto safety are light rail supporters show don’t know light rail is far more dangerous than cars.

    Apples and oranges, JK. A big difference between the two modes is that pedestrians can completely avoid getting hit by a light-rail train, simply by the expedient of keeping off the track. MAX does not go jumping the tracks and mowing down pedestrians on sidewalks; MAX doesn’t go speeding at 60MPH through downtown, etc. And drunks, FTMP, don’t get into the cabs of MAX trains. I can’t think of ANY incidents of a pedestrian being struck by a MAX train where the operator was at fault (in a few cases, station design has been implicated, such as the Millikan Way death back in the 1990s; but even then, the guy ran across the tracks without looking).

    Many pedestrians and bike riders, OTOH, are killed while on sidewalks, shoulders or in crosswalks, by drunken, speeding, or inattentive drivers.

    EngineerScotty Says: I think the impracticality is both a) recognized,
    JK: I didn’t get that impression from some of the comments above.

    EngineerScotty Says: You decry the “old-school” solution (painted crosswalks) that is known to not be very effective,
    JK: “Not very effective”?? NO!!! – they are getting people killed – that is what I complain about.

    In certain circumstances, they correlate to an increase in fatalities. Why? It appears that many pedestrians make the dangerous assumption that because they are standing in a crosswalk, the car actually will bother to slow down and stop.

    EngineerScotty Says: yet object loudly when more promising solutions (curb extensions,
    JK: How can you say that when there is NO data to show they are safe?

    You might peruse the PEDSafe site, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, and their page on curb extensions. Or this ODOT study.

    EngineerScotty Says: –pretty much anything that either will inconvenience or slow down motorists, or cost more than a trivial amount of money) are used.
    JK: Please support this with facts.

    JK, a common theme with you seems to be hostility to pedestrians and bikes. But I’ll let you explain yourself.

    EngineerScotty Says: How do you think we ought to manage pedestrian crossing of surface streets, in areas where both cars and people have need to mix?

    JK: Lets let the safety experts figure this out.

    Who are “safety experts”, and since you seem convinced that none are working for PBOT (or being ignored if they are), whose advice do you propose be followed? All the “safety experts” I can find seem to think that the right thing is being done.

    JK: My point is that bubble curbs are unproven and should not be widely used until they bother to gather and study data. I use the the term bother because they have been around for decades, and there has been plenty of time for real studies.

    The above ODOT study should help. It, too, calls for further study, but it does demonstrate a statistically significant change in driver behavior (a good change) with curb extensions.

    JK: It’s a bit like speed bumps still being put on Portland streets after some cities have actually starting removing them because it is being realized that they kill many more people than they save. But Portland activists continue to want them.

    But I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Fire departments complain about them; but again–those complaints can be mitigated, and reduced traffic deaths may outweigh any deaths due to increased response time.

    (One other benefit of curb extensions: They are great places to locate fire hydrants, as fire engines can park next to them, mounting the curb if necessary, without having to deal with illegally parked cars blocking access).

    EngineerScotty Says: And you still haven’t answered the question as to why PBOT ought to be held to strict standards of evidence before being permitted to deploy recent trends in traffic calming, but its OK for fracking to occur despite the large number of unanswered questions about the practice.
    JK: I don’t have much info about fracking, so I am not interested in discussing the details. I only noted that the popular anti fracking film intentionally left out material facts that about its main claim.

    Ah, but you led of this entire thread with an enthusiastic post about how “Fraking has dramatically expanded natural gas supplies and this has already forced the price of natural gas lower. On top of this, a December 23, 2010 New York Times story reports that refining a gallon of diesel fuel from natural gas only costs 50 cents compared to 31 cents from oil. This means that lower natural gas prices provide a vast new source of liquid fuels as long as gas is a little cheaper than crude for an equivalent energy content. The article reports that diesel made from natural gas is 85 cents per gallon cheaper than from oil. Now it is almost certain to be an even bigger difference. Sasol has been doing this on a commercial scale for decades and is now expanding into North America.”

    Sounds to me like a lot more than complaining about an eco-documentary allegedly bending the truth.

  97. Bob R.
    June 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm Link

    Re: The use of the word “Convenience”.

    In fairness to JK, that word was used by me first in this thread regarding curb extensions, when I wrote:

    The increased freedom and convenience for the pedestrian, being able to cross the street more readily within the structure of existing laws, is a benefit too.

    But no, I don’t think curb extensions are just about convenience.

    While we’re on the subject of calling for more data and more studies, I hope that any future in-depth studies of pedestrian crossing safety and infrastructure design also takes into account that some roads are just so hostile to cross that they dissuade pedestrian trips. Thus, if you make a road easier to cross, you’re also going to see more types of people with different agendas for their walking trips using the crossing, and this could possibly skew behavior and therefore collision statistics one way or another.

  98. Chris I
    June 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm Link

    So to sum up what JK has been saying here:
    – All pedestrian crossing improvements that have supporting data are dangerous.
    – Curb extensions are unproven, and probably dangerous
    – Freeways are the safest

    I’m trying to get a picture of his ideal city. It would seem to involve everyone in cars, driving on freeways, with big fences keeping pedestrians as far away from vehicles as possible.

    And really, Jim, let’s cut to the point: I don’t believe that you care at all about pedestrian safety. This whole tirade is just to try and prove the point that planners don’t know what they are doing. These pedestrian improvements annoy you because you are inconvenienced while driving, and you view them as a waste of money. Drop the charade.

  99. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: You might peruse the PEDSafe site, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, and their page on curb extensions. Or this ODOT study.
    JK: Can you point us to a particular statement that supports you point – you don’t expect us to slog through hundreds of pages to see if your point is supported, do you?

    EngineerScotty Says: but it does demonstrate a statistically significant change in driver behavior (a good change) with curb extensions.
    JK: How does that show bubble curbs improve safety? Especially after the NYC study showed a 97% increase in accident severity rating at one intersection.

    EngineerScotty Says: Fire departments complain about them; but again–those complaints can be mitigated, and reduced traffic deaths may outweigh any deaths due to increased response time.
    JK: The Assistant Fire Chief in Houston did a study: speed bumps killed many (20-30??) people for every traffic death prevented. (Speed humps are NOT placed on streets that have most of the fatalities – they are placed on low volume neighborhood streets.)

    The head of the London Ambiance Service estimated that a 35% reduction in road deaths would be required to save 100 lives/yr but if other deaths went up by 1.3%, then the benefit would be lost. That is because relatively few deaths are in traffic.

    Portland Fire Department measured delays at about 7 sec per hump.

    EngineerScotty Says: Sounds to me like a lot more than complaining about an eco-documentary allegedly bending the truth.
    JK: Not related to my original post. That whole subject came up as an alleged valid criticism of the process and I merely pointed out that it was less than honest.

    Thanks
    JK

  100. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: You might peruse the PEDSafe site, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, and their page on curb extensions. Or this ODOT study.
    JK: Can you point us to a particular statement that supports you point – you don’t expect us to slog through hundreds of pages to see if your point is supported, do you?

    Fair enough. From the ODOT study:

    The findings of this research suggest that curb extensions contribute to a significant reduction in the average number of vehicles that pass a waiting pedestrian before yielding to the pedestrian. Basically pedestrians approaching from the curb extension side experienced a vehicle yielding sooner than those coming from the non-improved side of the crosswalk. This reduction in the average number of passing vehicles yielding is best explained by the increased visibility offered by the curb extension.

    EngineerScotty Says: but it does demonstrate a statistically significant change in driver behavior (a good change) with curb extensions.
    JK: How does that show bubble curbs improve safety? Especially after the NYC study showed a 97% increase in accident severity rating at one intersection.

    It gets drivers to, you know, slow down and stop?

    There are several documented limitations to curb extensions and their applicability. For one thing, they imply on-street parking; and make little sense where there isn’t any. Another is that they’re inappropriate along high-speed, multi-lane expressways–the “97% increase” case you mention is on Queens Boulevard in NYC, a ten(!)-lane expressway (5 lanes per direction)–there really isn’t anyway to cross one of those safely other than a signalized or grade-separated crossing. (The big problem with depending on motorists to notice pedestrians and stop sans a signal is that even if traffic in the first lane stops, traffic in other lanes may not see the crossing pedestrian–or in some cases, cars following the stopped car will attempt an aggressive passing maneuver in the adjoining lane).

    EngineerScotty Says: Sounds to me like a lot more than complaining about an eco-documentary allegedly bending the truth.
    JK: Not related to my original post. That whole subject came up as an alleged valid criticism of the process and I merely pointed out that it was less than honest.

    I generally don’t much care about “popular” environmental works, such as the documentary being discussed, or the various tomes written by a certain former VPOTUS. More substantive criticisms of fracking, pointed out by others, seem to be ignored by you as you continue to beat this particular strawman–as if Gasland were the extent of the literature on the subject.

  101. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm Link

    Be careful with the personally-directed remarks, please–we’ll let JK, if he chooses, describe his “ideal city”.

    One thing that does concern me about these debates–and I’m not speaking of anyone here, because I don’t know most of you personally–is that it seems, more and more, that cultural politics are intruding on and informing debates about what ought to be technical matters. There seems to be a demographic cohort that opposes things like bike lanes and pedestrian improvements (inexpensive items that ought to be no-brainers) not on any legitimate technical grounds, but because doing so annoys liberals–and/or they see these things not as minor infrastructure improvements, but as the vanguard of some coming cultural revolution.

    (And likewise; there are those on the pro-transit, pro-planning side that have less-than-charitable attitudes towards rural and suburban demographics; and openly express contempt for who they consider to be “rednecks”).

    But not all of us who propose building bike lanes, curb extensions, or light rail lanes are part of a secret plot to bulldoze suburbia, take away people’s guns, ban fatty foods, and impose Sharia law, or whatever other nonsense talk-radio blowhards like to accuse progressives of uniformly trying to do.

  102. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link

    EngineerScotty Says: Fair enough. From the ODOT study:

    The findings of this research suggest that curb extensions contribute to a significant reduction in the average number of vehicles that pass a waiting pedestrian before yielding to
    JK: That was covered upthread at June 6, 2011 3:28 AM. I repeat:
    ————– As I posted in late 2009 to Aaron W. ——————-

    That reports seems to keep coming up when I ask about safety.

    Unfortunately, the only mention that I found about safety was this:
    One near “multiple-threat” crash was observed when a school bus yielded in the near lane and a vehicle in the far lane nearly collided with the crossing pedestrian Page 17

    It goes on to say:

    The findings of this research suggest that curb extensions contribute to a significant reduction in the average number of vehicles that pass a waiting pedestrian before yielding to the pedestrian. Basically pedestrians approaching from the curb extension side experienced a vehicle yielding sooner than those coming from the non-improved side of the crosswalk. This reduction in the average number of passing vehicles yielding is best explained by the increased visibility offered by the curb extension. page 21

    I answer by saying yes, when you put people closer to fast moving cars, you would expect more drivers to see them and stop. However you would also expect a few more people to get killed by drugged / stoned / drunk drivers because they are closer to fast moving heavy machinery.

    I have yet to see any data on this.

    I have heard that there was one accident caused by a curb extension where kids were playing and one pushed another who ended up in front of a car. Again, it is standard practice in industry to keep fast moving heavy equipment and people separated, not to put them closer together!
    ——————————-

    So, they report an increase is cars stopping for peds and one near tragedy. Hardly a solid case for safety! (Why is it that I am the only one who noticed the near tragedy?)

    Thanks
    JK

  103. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm Link

    There seems to be a demographic cohort that opposes things like bike lanes … (inexpensive items that ought to be no-brainers)
    You are forgetting the cost of the road space that bike lanes take up.

    Thanks
    JK

  104. Chris I
    June 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm Link

    Jim,

    Indulge us. What do you suggest we do given the following scenario:

    You have a 35 mph couplet, similar to east Burnside around 10th. There are 2 or 3 lanes of one way traffic. The existing street does not have any designated pedestrian crossings for at least 500ft in each direction. There was a recent pedestrian fatality, which occurred when a man attempted to cross the heavy traffic.

    What do we do?

  105. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm Link

    Part of the way do deal with the problem of “putting people near fast moving cars” is to slow down the cars. Currently, under Oregon law, cities have little ability to set speed limits to other than state guidelines; and many motorists ignore them anyways.

    That’s what “traffic calming” is all about.

    One of the nice things about curb extensions is that they permit a buffer (a parking lane and/or a bike lane) between the sidewalk and the traffic lanes, but provide a safe approach for those pedestrians who intend to cross. Obviously, children shouldn’t be playing in curb extensions, and there’s room to question the wisdom of placing picnic tables in them–but given that crossing the street involves stepping into the path of any fast-moving machinery which might be zooming by, the risk of a pedestrian standing in one being mowed down by a passing drunk is probably low. As noted above, the primary danger for any crossing is cars who fail to stop, not cars who leave the right-of-way.

    At any rate–again, how do you solve this problem? It looks silly when you evade the question by appealing to authorities in the same thread where you criticize the authorities for exercising their judgment; if you don’t like the current authorities, feel free to point to others you do like.

  106. Jeff F
    June 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm Link

    Chris I Says:

    You have a 35 mph couplet, similar to east Burnside around 10th. There are 2 or 3 lanes of one way traffic. The existing street does not have any designated pedestrian crossings for at least 500ft in each direction. There was a recent pedestrian fatality, which occurred when a man attempted to cross the heavy traffic.

    In the case of the Burnside couplet, I think that the City also added a lot of traffic signals. On Couch, it feels like they’re on every block, and that they’re timed to slow traffic down.

    In a car, it’s a little irritating, but as a pedestrian it’s great. And best of all, the project removed that nightmare five-way intersection at 12th that required spending part of the crossing standing on a tiny bit of curb next to a pole as traffic whizzed by.

  107. R A Fontes
    June 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm Link

    Anybody know of any recent developments in the naked streets experiments—the European concept of removing all traffic controls in urban areas thereby establishing uncertainty in the minds of road users?

  108. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm Link

    Here’s an old article on the subject in the UK. (Googling “naked streets”, alas, produces many hits on, ahem, unrelated topics).

  109. Aaron Hall
    June 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm Link

    That’s what NW 13th Ave is supposed to be. The Dutch have a word for it, something like “wohnert”… starts with a “w”, I’m sure I spelled it wrong. Couldn’t find a Wiki or Google link either.

  110. Chris Smith
    June 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm Link

    I think Woonerf is the word you’re looking for and I commented on 13th in that capacity here: http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2006/05/did_we_just_pav.html

  111. Dave H
    June 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm Link

    I haven’t seen a mention of it anywhere, but work has started on the Sellwood Gap portion of the Springwater Corridor. Train tracks are being torn up to move them over and get a pedestrian & bike path built on the parallel alignment from the current southern end of the Eastbank corridor (near the Sellwood Bridge) down and over to SE 13th is this stage I think.

    I’ll try to remember to get some pictures to share of the work. I’d love to test drive some of the heavy equipment they’re using for this.

  112. jimkarlock
    June 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm Link

    Chris I Says: Indulge us. What do you suggest we do given the following scenario:

    You have a 35 mph couplet, similar to east Burnside around 10th. There are 2 or 3 lanes of one way traffic. The existing street does not have any designated pedestrian crossings for at least 500ft in each direction. There was a recent pedestrian fatality, which occurred when a man attempted to cross the heavy traffic.

    What do we do?
    JK: First get more information.
    Time of day?
    Light or heavy traffic?
    Visibility?
    Crossing legally or illegally?
    Alcohol involved?
    Old person struggling to get across, or drunk running into traffic?

    Then consult a non-agenda traffic engineer (generally not the type one finds at pBOT)

    Thanks
    JK

  113. EngineerScotty
    June 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm Link

    Then consult a non-agenda traffic engineer (generally not the type one finds at pBOT)

    Why, do I suspect, that a “non-agenda traffic engineer” is code for “traffic engineer who agrees with me”?

    At any rate–while the civil engineering profession is not as platonic and apolitical as I would like to think (given my own position in a different engineering field); if you supply different engineers of reasonable skill with the same problem and constraints, you’ll probably end up with similar solutions. The issue is, more often, the constraints handed down from the political folk; I suspect your issue with PBOT lies here.

    In some cities, a constraint will be “try to improve safety, but traffic throughput must not be decreased”. In others, safety will be elevated as a priority, even if it produces a decline in the speed or volume of cars a street can support.

    Rather than trying to engineer a solution; perhaps a better challenge would be to identify the constraints you would hand to your engineering staff, were you the city transportation czar.

  114. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 12:06 am Link

    were you the city transportation czar.
    Obvious answer: appoint a blue ribbon committee or hire a consultant

  115. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 12:31 am Link

    (given my own position in a different engineering field)
    What kind of engineering do you practice? Electrical, mechanical, computer, other?

    Thanks
    JK

  116. Aaron Hall
    June 8, 2011 at 1:20 am Link

    Woonerf… that’s it. Thanks Chris.

    There is a Wiki page for “woonerf”, but reading further, I think 13th Ave. matches more closely to the “shared space” concept (also wiki’d). Woonerfs prioritize bikes and pedestrians over cars, while shared spaces try to accomodate all modes equally.

    There’s also a proposal to turn Park and Ninth Aves. through downtown into shared spaces as a way to bridge the gap between the South and North Park Blocks. The design for Park and Ninth at Director Park was meant to be a test of that concept, although it still turned out a little car-centric. The PAW block is supposed to be a continuation of that idea.

  117. EngineerScotty
    June 8, 2011 at 8:52 am Link

    I’m a software engineer–a discipline that, admittedly, is often accused of being a “real” engineering discipline. But that’s a discussion for another blog.

  118. EngineerScotty
    June 8, 2011 at 10:33 am Link

    Right-wing group Americans for Prosperity, in an attempt to stop a bridge project in Detroit, posts fake “eviction notices” on the doors of homes in the project area.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/06/07/238832/americans-for-prosperity-detroit/

  119. EngineerScotty
    June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm Link

    TriMet board votes to improve previously-proposed fare hike and service restorations, both to take effect in September.

  120. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm Link

    Extreme Left Wing fake news site belittles taxpayer group, Americans for Prosperitys, efforts to stop a bridge project in Detroit, eventhough the Left Wing site says “there may be some merit to some of the arguments against the NITC project,”

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/06/07/238832/americans-for-prosperity-detroit/

  121. EngineerScotty
    June 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm Link

    If you think Matthew Yglesias and crew are “extreme left wingers”, you haven’t been hanging out with enough extreme left-wingers. Even if they do like to belittle Americans for Plutocracy. :)

  122. Bob R.
    June 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm Link

    Memo to JK: The “extreme left wing” site is decrying AFP’s sleazy tactics, while maintaining intellectual honesty about the merits of the bridge proposal. Sounds like the “extreme left wing” group is pretty even-handed in their approach after all.

    But since the tactic appears to be OK with you, then I’m sure you won’t mind it being used the next time a highway expansion project comes up, right? Perhaps CRC opponents can distribute eviction notices in North Portland and Hayden Island?

  123. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link

    But since the tactic appears to be OK with you, then I’m sure you won’t mind it being used the next time a highway expansion project comes up, right? Perhaps CRC opponents can distribute eviction notices in North Portland and Hayden Island?
    Don’t tempt me.

    If their analysis of which properties is correct, then all they are doing is moving up the date that the owners get a notice. The shock will be no more (and no less) if it comes from an independent political group compared to a government with armed enforcers who WILL show up if they refuse to move.

    Further by doing it now, they have a chance to prevent the government form doing it later.

    What is you take on the appropriateness of this and why?

    Thanks
    JK

  124. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link

    BTW, In case I have not made it clear:
    the CRC project is mostly a multi billion dollar waste that destroys far more properties than necessary.

    They should postpone the interchange rebuilds and drop the billion dollar component that would initially serve only 1650 people and only build the 1/2 billion component that serves 81,000 people.

    The whole project would take few if any private lands, cost around 1/2 billion and NOT require tolls.

    It could even be a single double deck bridge instead of a pair of double deck bridges which might save a bit more money.

    Thanks
    JK

  125. EngineerScotty
    June 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm Link

    Mayor Sam Adams, driving his Prius, is rear-ended by a bicyclist after braking to avoid a pedestrian. Mayor was unhurt; bicyclist suffered only minor injuries.

  126. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm Link

    Breaking News:

    Sam Adams car hit by bike!!!

    The bicyclist, Tasia Bernie, sais the mayor “came to a really quick stop” … She then crashed into the back of his Prius and fell to the pavement.

    see:
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandcityhall/2011/06/mayor_sam_adams_crashes_with_b.html

  127. Bob R.
    June 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm Link

    What is you take on the appropriateness of this and why?

    I’ve already stated my take. It’s a sleazy tactic. Especially given the history of these neighborhoods. Look up “blockbusting” sometime.

    If their analysis of which properties is correct, then all they are doing is moving up the date that the owners get a notice.

    Big bold print that says “EVICTION NOTICE” isn’t an early warning, it implies immediate action. It comes with shock value way beyond the point of just trying to grab someone’s attention.

    Not to mention all the foreclosures going on right now.

    The shock will be no more (and no less) if it comes from an independent political group compared to a government with armed enforcers who WILL show up if they refuse to move.

    That’s a gross misrepresentation. Just like the fake notices.

    Eminent domain is a constitutional process bound by law. Property owners will receive early notices, an offer of remuneration for their property, and the opportunity to negotiate. If they think the offer is too low, they can sue.

    If someone were to receive a genuine eviction notice after the bridge project is given the green light, it would be at the end of a long legal process.

    I’ve read several mainstream news articles including in the Detroit Free Press, and I find nothing to indicate that AFP targeted only specific properties which would be affected by construction. It appears to be neighborhood-wide, and I’ve yet to see any neighbors interviewed who thought the notices were a good idea.

    If someone proposed converting a local public school to a charter school, would it be appropriate to send parents in the area an “Expulsion Notice”?

    In areas around medical marijuana clinics, would it be appropriate for marijuana opponents to post fake DEA property seizure notices or put up police tape?

    This reminds me of the “Death Panels” nonsense.

  128. jimkarlock
    June 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm Link

    Bob R.: If someone proposed converting a local public school to a charter school, would it be appropriate to send parents in the area an “Expulsion Notice”?
    JK: Would anyone get “expelled”?

    Bob R.: In areas around medical marijuana clinics, would it be appropriate for marijuana opponents to post fake DEA property seizure notices or put up police tape?
    JK: Would any properties in the “areas around medical marijuana clinics” be seized?

    Bob R.: This reminds me of the “Death Panels” nonsense.
    JK: Would a panel decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t?

    What would you say about a notice like this:

    ————————
    EVICTION NOTICE

    You may be evicted from this property
    if the xxxx project is built.
    Here’s how you can save your property:
    cxzolfk0-szvmdsoptfk
    —————————

    Thanks
    JK

  129. Bob R.
    June 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm Link

    Everything that needs to be written about the Death Panels lie has already been written. I pointed it out as an example of sleazy political behavior, it doesn’t need to be rehashed here. Some helpful links, one from a neutral source and one from a liberal-leaning media watchdog:

    PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’
    Right-Wing Media Kick Off 2011 By Dusting Off “Death Panel” Lie

    Would anyone get “expelled”?

    Not likely. Nor is it likely that everyone who got the fake notice in Detroit would be “evicted”.

    Students would no longer have a public school to attend at that exact physical location, and to attend the charter school they’d have to apply for enrollment. Spinning that as an “expulsion” is as misleading as spinning legal property buyouts that might happen at some point in the future as an EVICTION NOTICE in big bold letters.

    And just to point out that this applies to all sides, it would have been equally misleading for _supporters_ of the new bridge to post notices saying “BUYOUT OFFER” and tell people they can walk away from their mortgages if the bridge is built.

    What would you say about a notice like this: […]

    It’s not quite as over-the-top as the Americans For Prosperity fake notice, but a lot would depend on the format (is it visually misleading, looking like an official notice), the size of the text, and most importantly who it gets distributed to — if it goes to unaffected property owners then it’s still sleazy. If it goes to property owners who only stand a small chance of being affected, then the “may” is pretty small word to hang something that inflammatory upon.

  130. EngineerScotty
    June 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm Link

    The Metro meeting on the CRC will be beginning soon. Follow it on #CRC at Twitter.

  131. EngineerScotty
    June 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm Link

    One interesting peril of rail rapid transit and “Buy America” requirements: The type of rail used for mixed-traffic (in street) running, is not made in the US.

  132. Douglas K.
    June 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm Link

    The Portland Mercury points out why right-wingers should LOVE bicycles and bike infrastructure (as opposed to socialistic automobile projects) with a series of articles lumped together under “The Republican’s Guide to Bicycling.”

  133. EngineerScotty
    June 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm Link

    Breaking: Metro Council votes 5-1 to advance CRC.

    Trying to get info on who voted how–though Craddick, Hughes, Roberts, and Harrington were all yeas.

  134. EngineerScotty
    June 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm Link

    Hosticka was the no vote. Burkholder also voted yea. Collette was absent.

  135. EngineerScotty
    June 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm Link

    The Mercatus Center, a Libertarian think-tank at George Mason U, has published a “freedom ranking” of the 50 US states. Oregon comes in at #8 overall–ranking first in personal freedoms, and #24 in economic.

    For what it’s worth.

  136. J
    June 11, 2011 at 11:32 am Link

    As seen on KGW – http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/New-TriMet-bridge-will-be-too-short-for-many-boats-123669924.html – so it seems that the highest clearance of the bridge will be 60 feet, and that’s only in the middle 150 feet of the bridge, which makes it too short for most watercraft that will be traveling under it. I wonder what kind of impact this will have on the bridge as far as bridge lifts go… how often will the Orange Line service be interrupted because the bridge has to go up? Shouldn’t this have been planned for?

  137. ws
    June 11, 2011 at 11:50 am Link

    Why doesn’t Sam Adams take the MAX to work?

  138. ws
    June 11, 2011 at 11:53 am Link

    @J

    That’s insane that the new bridge is not high enough. Personally, I’d get some boaters together and sue, sue, sue and sue some more.

    We are blocking water access for transit. We can’t be doing this.

  139. EngineerScotty
    June 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm Link

    The “Portland Spirit” operators complained mightily about that, thus TriMet is paying to have their tall-mast craft modified. They are the only current river users to need that sort of bridge clearance. At any rate, from Section 3.2 of the FEIS:

    Changes for River Users – Bridge Height

    With some exceptions, the current and likely future navigation activities would not be affected by the bridge height (77.52 feet). There is some potential that a combination of high river levels (particularly during flood events), coupled with the long-term effects of climate change, could temporarily restrict passage of the highest vessels north of the Willamette River bridge. These events are expected to occur within a narrow time window each year, mostly in winter. Given the limited activities that would be affected, the economic impacts are expected to remain minor and temporary. Individual private boat owners may be affected, but typically their maximum heights are lower than the industrial river users. Two river cruise excursion operations also could have limited periods when their passage would be restricted. See Section 4.3.4, Navigation Impacts, and Appendix O, Navigation, for additional information.

    Section 4.3.4, “Navigation Impacts”, says:

    As described in Chapter 2, the project will construct a new Willamette River bridge, which would be a cable-stayed structure with two in-water piers. The bridge is designed to
    accommodate light rail trains, streetcars, buses, pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles. Two 14-foot multi-use paths would be on the sides of the bridge, separated from the transit vehicles and tracks by barriers. The bridge will cross the Willamette River between the Marquam and Ross Island bridges (River Mile (RM) 13.5 and RM 14, respectively). In developing the design concept for the proposed new bridge, the project initiated a review of current and future
    navigational needs, beginning with the SDEIS efforts in 2007 and 2008, and continuing through
    the preparation of this FEIS. These efforts included document research, field investigations, and outreach to navigational users and interests, coupled with an extensive open public process to review and refine various design concepts. As a result, the proposed vertical clearance for the
    project was increased from the SDEIS alternatives. The current navigational clearance proposal was balanced with detailed engineering and constructability considerations for the complex new bridge structure, and also considered such factors as land-side urban fit, visual and aesthetic appeal, Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and costs. The bridge would provide 77.52 feet of vertical clearance as measured from the Columbia River Datum (CRD) for approximately 300 feet in the middle of the center span of the bridge.

    Federal authority to permit new bridges is delegated to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), according to Section 9 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and the General Bridge Act of 1946. The purpose of the two acts is to preserve the public right of navigation and to prevent interference with interstate and foreign commerce. The Willamette River to RM 183.2 is designated a navigable waterway by the USCG. None of the other streams crossed by the project are navigable. Issuance of the bridge permit that defines the required clearances is based on the USCG consideration of existing navigation uses. This consideration includes vessel heights, location of onshore facilities, frequency of use, seasonality of use, availability of alternative facilities or operation, and other factors.

    In the vicinity of the proposed crossing, the lift span of the Hawthorne Bridge has the highest clearance at 159 feet, when the deck is raised. Operators raise the bridge an average of 200 times per month (300 times per month in the summer). Both the Ross Island and Marquam bridges (which would be immediately adjacent to a proposed transit bridge) have maximum vertical clearances of 120 feet. Adjacent spans on both bridges have lower vertical clearances but wider horizontal clearances.

    The lowest vertical clearance in the vicinity of the new crossing is at the current Sellwood Bridge at 75 feet. The Sellwood Bridge is scheduled for replacement/renovation through a separate project, but its replacement height has not yet been finalized. There are potential navigational uses between the proposed bridge and the Sellwood Bridge. If the proposed new transit bridge has a clearance that matches or is greater than the Sellwood Bridge clearance, the constraint would be shared at both locations and limit use between them by taller vessels.

    An analysis of existing and future river navigation needs (including commercial and recreational users) found that a 77.52 feet vertical clearance would allow for the passage of the majority of the anticipated navigational users. Any restrictions in passage would be primarily in the winter, during high water events, and could be minimized or reduced through existing river management systems, including dams and control devices on the Columbia River and Willamette River. The estimate of the current and future passage rates reflects an additional 3.5-foot allowance for safety and river level fluctuations, including the potential future effects of climate change.

    A river user, the owner of a charter sail company, Sail Scovare Yachts & Expeditions, Inc., expressed concerns regarding the project’s vertical navigation restrictions for one of its vessels. The affected vessel has a vertical clearance of 65.8 feet. The effects to Sail Scovare would be similar to other charter operations in the area with an estimated 90 percent and above passage rate under the bridge (discussed in more detail in Appendix O).

    Additional details on the results of the navigation and climate change analysis are provided in Appendix O of this FEIS. The USCG will make the final decision regarding vertical clearance after TriMet submits its bridge permit request, after the publication of this FEIS.

    Appendix O goes into greater detail about the impact of the bridge on river navigation. TriMet also published a FAQ on the subject two years ago.

  140. Bob R.
    June 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm Link

    thus TriMet is paying to have their tall-mast craft modified

    Unless I missed it in the broadcast, the KGW story on this last night mentioned the large cost of the improvements to the craft, but did not mention that TriMet was paying the costs. Thus, viewers were left with the impression that this new bridge was forcing a significant financial burden onto the craft owner.

  141. ws
    June 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm Link

    This isn’t about one craft owner such as the Portland Spirit, it’s that this bridge appears to be designed with little oversight as to future boats that need to gain passage through.

    Again, paying the Portland spirit for cost defrays is but ONE aspect of poor planning.

    You can design proper pedestrian/ADA connections and increase the height 7 feet — especially over the distance that this is crossing.

    Again, bad planning if this is true.

  142. Bob R.
    June 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link

    Again, bad planning if this is true.

    The bridge is already a few feet higher than the law requires, and higher than the Sellwood bridge upstream. Good cost containment might be another characterization.

    If a navigable waterway beyond current regulations is desirable, why should TriMet be the one paying for a taller bridge with longer approaches?

  143. Douglas K.
    June 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link

    As long as the new bridge offers as much clearance as the Sellwood Bridge (75 feet), there shouldn’t be ANY navigation issues for river traffic. Is there really only 60 feet of clearance, or is it planned at 77.5 feet? In the latter case, nobody should have any cause for complaint.

  144. EngineerScotty
    June 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm Link

    The bridge is planned at 77.5′ above the baseline water level. Water levels go up and down, obviously; the river is significantly higher at this time, and the effective height of the bridge today is around 60′. But measurements of bridge height are usually quoted with respect to baseline.

  145. Aaron Hall
    June 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm Link

    ws Says: “Again, bad planning if this is true.”

    It’s NOT true. KGW presented misleading information and made Portland Spirit out to be the victim here. But they’re actually the antagonists. They were complaining that IN THE FUTURE, they MAY want to heighten their mast and that because of that possibility, TriMet had to spend millions more on a higher bridge to accommodate that hypothetical taller mast. Never mind that they still wouldn’t be able to go under the Sellwood IF they did install a taller mast. Why KGW would propogate this lie, I don’t understand.

  146. ws
    June 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link

    A better measurement is the Ross Island Bridge, which is right next to it, which is 123 center height to water measurement.

    This design issue not about the Portland Spirit — it’s about future uses that will be restricted. I said that the Spirit is but one problem.

    Why not play it safe and design the bridge to allow for what we cannot expect in regards to future water uses? Why are we limiting the scope of the river?

    I still think it’s bad planning, especially so many global warming reports of higher than average water levels expected.

  147. Bob R.
    June 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm Link

    While you may disagree with the chosen bridge height, global warming was a factor taken into account, estimating a change in the average river level of about 3.5 feet.

    The Ross Island has a high center, but it also has landings on both sides of the river that are way higher than the new bridge.

    The new bridge meets the street grid near the river’s edge, not up in the hills. Making the bridge taller requires steeper grades. I’m sure MAX and buses could deal with a slightly steeper grade, but grades are already pushing it a bit for (at least some) cyclists and peds.

    They’re already spending a fair amount of money to raise SW Moody Ave. up about 15ft. This is for a variety of reasons including industrial site remediation, but one of the reasons is to facilitate the bridge landing elevation.

    To maintain grades, every foot you raise the center of the bridge increases the area of the street grid and approaches which also need to be raised, increasing the cost.

    You’re arguing about hypothetical future river uses… Taller ships, serving what purpose? And what port facilities between Sellwood and Ross Island? The occasional mega-yacht or small cruise ship seems more possible than industrial use, perhaps. But it just doesn’t seem very likely, nor is it required by law.

    Anything common that can be hauled by barge will do just fine with TriMet’s chosen clearance.

  148. ws
    June 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm Link

    “You’re arguing about hypothetical future river uses”

    I don’t know. Do you? Your predicting of the future uses is more brazen than mine. You’re assuming things based on current uses. The only assumption I am guilty of is that I don’t want to limit future uses — and based on the absurdly high water levels we have experienced this year and probably will experience in future years, increasing the passage of the bridge would make sense.

    I see rising energy prices and a river that is not fully utilized as a commercial water body.

    Let’s not forget the importance rivers played in commerce and transportation back in the old days.

    On the topic of assumptions:

    Regarding grades, a 7′ rise to the middle of the of the river would add a whopping ~.5% grade increase.

    A 7 foot rise over 1600 feet (thereabouts to the middle of the river from the start of the bridge) is not going to negatively affect peds, wheelchairs, bikes, buses, or trains greatly.

  149. Aaron Hall
    June 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm Link

    Yeah, the hypothetical future uses argument is bogus. There’s no reason to ever have taller ships south of downtown. And yes, it IS about the Portland Spirit. They complained right from the beginning that they wanted to install some sort of high-tech gear that would extend 10′ above their current mast, and that their operations would be severely hindered in the future if the bridge was only 77.5′ and they couldn’t install this magic piece of equipment. Complete BS.

  150. Chris Smith
    June 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm Link

    Many suspect that the Portland Spirit objection was actually a negotiating ploy connected to potential land use regulation changes near their dock which is very close to the bridgehead and OMSI LRT station.

  151. Bob R.
    June 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm Link

    a 7′ rise

    But 7′ doesn’t get you anywhere near the height of the Ross Island bridge. If you’re trying to restrict no future uses, why the arbitrary 7′ number? Why is 7′ taller so much better than the currently-chosen height?

    At 7′, you’re still limiting a lot of hypothetical future uses. At that point we’re just arguing over feet, and the value already chosen is higher than the minimum requirement.

    So, why 84.5′ vs 77.5′ or 124′?

  152. AL M
    June 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm Link

    “Bridges are America’s cathedrals”
    (unknown)

  153. Douglas K.
    June 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm Link

    Regardless of hypothetical future uses, the Sellwood Bridge is still the current limit on the height of any boat traveling south of downtown. The industrial uses south of the Marquam Bridge have all but vanished — at this point, there are gravel barges from Ross Island and not much else — and all that’s really left are some marinas for private pleasure craft and river touring operations like Portland Spirit. None of these are economically critical, and none of them actually need access to the Willamette River south of the Marquam Bridge. Anyone who owns a sailboat more than 75′ tall can dock it at River Place or points north, and if a river tour company brings in a boat taller than the Sellwood Bridge, they can just use that boat for tours north along the Willamette instead of south.

    Tri-Met should build this bridge with the same clearance as the Sellwood Bridge. There is absolutely no reason to go higher.

  154. ws
    June 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm Link

    …isn’t the Sellwood getting rebuilt?

  155. Bob R.
    June 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm Link

    The Sellwood Bridge FEIS indicates maintaining 75ft of vertical clearance, and providing 200ft of horizontal navigation clearance. The document refers to variations in vertical clearance based on which bridge type design is constructed (Deck Arch is the locally-preferred alternative), but I couldn’t find a specific reference to the exact height for each bridge type. (The document is over 1200 pages — I may have missed it).

    http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/?p=eis-documents

  156. EngineerScotty
    June 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm Link

    Further evidence of TriMet’s naked oppression of boaters: starting Tuesday, a no-wake zone will be implemented by the Oregon State Marine Board, as construction barges are towed into place to get ready for bridge construction, which starts on July 1.

    Obviously, TriMet failed to consider the needs of motorboat and skidoo operators, who are being denied their God-given constitutional right to use the river as a dragstrip. :)

  157. ws
    June 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm Link

    ES:

    I’m not sure I get the snarkiness on this subject, nor do I understand people’s unwillingness to admit this might limit future use of our water ways.

    I guess I’d like TriMet to err on the side of caution, and I’m not sure why it has all of a sudden decided to uphold its fiduciary commitment to its citizens (and save money) when it pursues some of the most aggressive and expensive rail development in the US. Well, most aggressive and slow rail, I should say.

    Or maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion. I can admit that if someone who knows something about boats, waterways, and commerce can convince me otherwise — I’ll certainly change my tone.

  158. EngineerScotty
    June 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm Link

    WS,

    Sorry for the snark, but there was a very public process concerning current and potential future uses of the river, involving the local boating communities (commercial and personal), local, state, and national maritime authorities, other transportation agencies, and TriMet. The trade-offs involved were pretty much hashed to death.

    South of downtown, the presence of Ross Island (and the narrowing of the channel) severely limits the navigability of the river. Larger, deep draft ocean-going vessels simply can’t navigate the river beyond downtown due to reasons unrelated to the bridge. Nor is there much need to–plenty of other restrictions upriver, both natural and man-made, further limit navigation: the locks at Oregon City, assuming they remain open, limit the size of vessels that can go past the Falls; the rail bridge in West Linn also is an impediment to larger boats, and the Canby Ferry’s guide cables are the coup de grace for large craft. There aren’t any harbors upstream that can handle large craft for which the bridge height is a concern.

    Obviously, tradeoffs have to be made whenever a navigable waterway is crossed, which is what the public process is designed to address. But the powers that be have determined, correctly in my view, that the impediment to likely current and future navigation by the bridge is close to nil. After all, the Queen Elizabeth II is not going to be calling on Oregon City any time soon, even if the bridge were higher. The only identified conflicting uses were hypothetical ones, such as maybe the river cruise operators might want a taller boat in the future.

  159. Douglas K.
    June 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm Link

    And the thing is, the river cruise operators don’t NEED taller boats. They might not ever get them. They can carry on their business profitably with the boats they have, as they’ve been doing for years.

    As it stands, there is virtually no river commerce or industrial use south of the Steel Bridge, and there will be even less once the Ross Island Sand & Gravel operation is eventually shut down. In fact, if and when the Dreyfus grain elevator finally closes (which may be years or decades away), we’ll see virtually 100% of commercial (non-tourism) and industrial river use occur downstream from the Broadway Bridge.

    When the only likely prospective use of the river south of downtown Portland is for recreation and tourism, there’s really no need to worry about bridge height along that stretch.

  160. ws
    June 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm Link

    Douglas K:

    I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, and ES made some good points, but this topic and commencing dialogue paints a broader view on why urban planning, in particular, needs to change its course.

    Take this comment from you:

    “As it stands, there is virtually no river commerce or industrial use south of the Steel Bridge, and there will be even less once the Ross Island Sand & Gravel operation is eventually shut down.”

    Regarding my previous comments on urban/regional planning, making assumptions about future uses based on current conditions is generally always bad. You have to start somewhere, but it’s a good way to pigeon hole yourself into bad planning.

    Planning needs to be flexible, and my ire at this new bridge and its heights is more of my skepticism of the field of contemporary urban planning than me being angry at TriMet and its new bridge.

  161. EngineerScotty
    June 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm Link

    Latest TriMet ridership figures are available.

  162. Aaron Hall
    June 14, 2011 at 3:49 am Link

    ws Says: “Regarding my previous comments on urban/regional planning, making assumptions about future uses based on current conditions is generally always bad.”

    There’s no “assumption” being made by planners here. There is absolutely zero chance that any future industrial or commercial riverfront uses south of downtown will need to use tall ships. Building the bridge taller would simply be a waste of money. YOU are assuming that there MIGHT be a need for taller ships when there are no facts to base that on.

  163. Bob R.
    June 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm Link

    Well, obviously, I didn’t get the memo in time this year (whoops), but since there’s just over an hour left in the day, I should point out that today, June 16th, is national “Dump the Pump” day, as promoted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA):

    http://www.apta.com/members/memberprogramsandservices/advocacyandoutreachtools/dumpthepump/Pages/default.aspx

    I was honored to lead the team that won APTA’s 2009 “Dump the Pump” video competition, so a bit of shameless self-promotion is in order, given the date:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNPA0RlsR1g

    I’m sorry to announce that I personally didn’t “dump the pump” today but at least I engaged in some carpool activity.

  164. Douglas K.
    June 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm Link

    I just took a look at this video of the Milwaukie light rail route. It gave me a better understanding as to why this project is so preposterously expensive … LOOK at all the buildings they need to condemn to create the route. (Yeah, I know all that information was out there, but seeing it on video underscores for me just how much demolition is involved.) I know you can’t always build a line on existing right-of-way, but this looks a bit ridiculous.

    I hope that if they extend the line to Oregon City in the future, they’ll just run it down the middle of McLoughlin.

  165. EngineerScotty
    June 20, 2011 at 9:36 am Link

    Just for Ron: Picture of GM’s new electric bus prototype: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beyonddc/5843040940/

  166. EngineerScotty
    June 23, 2011 at 9:34 am Link

    And now there’s two: Transportation officials in the greater Dallas metro are have unveiled a new commuter rail line that looks a LOT like WES.

  167. EngineerScotty
    June 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link

    I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing… but as you may have heard, American Idol will be holding auditions in Portland next weekend. And what picture have the producers of the show chosen to represent Portland on the website?

    You guessed it: a MAX train.

  168. Dave H
    June 26, 2011 at 1:00 am Link

    An open letter to TriMet:

    To whom it may concern,

    Tonight I called the Portland Police on 911 after witnessing a person who was riding a bike with a trailer and leaving glass (and other trash) in his wake at SE 13th and Tacoma St. I called 911 after personally witnessing him threaten several people at the stop, including someone who tried to intervene when he left broken glass in the street. (His response when they asked that he clean up the mess was that he’d “f*** you real good.”) Several people, including children, left the stop while he was screaming at various potential TriMet users.

    After giving a description to Portland’s 911 dispatcher (probably about 9:15 pm, although I didn’t record the time – I gave them a fairly good description including his green shirt, curly hair, bike with a trailer, etc), I followed him at a distance with the assurance that a responding officer would contact me. (The dispatcher did ask that I don’t do so, but I’m not very good at taking advice like that.) That never happened, but I did follow the suspect to an address of XXXX SE XXXXXX St (the left side), and waited outside there for 20 minutes. He attempted to start fights with several people on the way, but following the advice of the 911 dispatcher I just watched from a distance to avoid a confrontation. If I recall right the disputes were with an Asian man, three teenagers, and a senior citizen male who I didn’t get a good look at.

    I waited about 40 feet from the entrance of his driveway for well over twenty more minutes before realizing the police were not going to respond to a matter that only involved threatening multiple people. If TriMet wants to make it’s users safe it seems that the Portland Police need to respond to things like this as well.

    I have CC’d KATU, KOIN, and KPTV because I feel that the public needs to know that even if they follow a person threatening TriMet riders all the way home, the Portland Police seem to not be concerned about following through on the matter. I hope that TriMet and the Police can find a way to work together, but my experience tonight makes me feel that’s quite unlikely.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this. I hope you do, as this person’s behavior was quite upsetting to witness. The lack of response was even worse.

    If TriMet wants riders to feel secure maybe there are better ways than depending on people like myself getting more involved than this, but I’m not sure what it is. I expected some kind of call back at least from the Portland Police, but apparently people who are trying to start fights with and intimidating people waiting for buses isn’t enough for them to bother with. I removed the address and a word that’s not allowed here from the version I sent to TriMet and the local media, so I hope this isn’t outside the TOS for the site, but I’m pretty pissed off that there was no response whatsoever by the police about someone threatening people waiting for TriMet’s services right in the heart of Sellwood.

  169. EngineerScotty
    June 28, 2011 at 10:46 am Link

    Sam Jackson Park Road between Terwilliger Boulevard and OHSU will be closed for emergency repairs starting in mid-July. Bus service won’t be directly affect, as it does not use SJP to reach OHSU, but increased congestion from auto traffic might slow transit down.

  170. Jeff F
    June 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm Link

    I think you can safely remove the modifier, Scotty.

  171. R A Fontes
    June 29, 2011 at 6:02 am Link

    Nevada has legalized autonomous vehicles (AVs) without human backup. Many outlets carried the story. Canada’s Financial Post includes a PDF of the actual bill: http://business.financialpost.com/2011/06/24/nevada-state-law-paves-the-way-for-driverless-cars/

    Nevada’s law actually provides for a special driver’s license endorsement to “operate” an autonomous vehicle. Yeah – it’s kind of weird, but it is the first law in the nation (world?) specifically authorizing AVs.

    It’s time to start getting serious about discussing how to best integrate AVs into our transportation future. These things could be a major force in promoting sprawl or they could foster walkable compact neighborhoods and communities. The key will be whether government policies encourage UOV -UnOcccupied Vehicle- trips. For example, suburban cabs can take a fare to PDX but must deadhead back without a City of Portland taxi permit. The last thing we need is a bunch of empty AVs clogging our streets and roads.

  172. EngineerScotty
    June 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link

    Interesting WW article with Charlie Hales.

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