Open Thread for the Week of 10/27/13

We’ll open with a reminder that our “wonk night” on bicycle parking is tomorrow night!

Bicycle Parking Wonk Night
Tuesday, October 29th
Lancaster Engineering
321 SW 4th Ave # 400

Please join us!

7 responses to “Open Thread for the Week of 10/27/13”

  1. The O ran a piece on a dispute between the City of Portland and Portland Streetcar, Inc. over control of funds. At issue is whether city control would adversely impact the board’s independence.

    The issue appears mostly technical, and in the article no one from the city suggests a need for structural changes. Reading it though brings to mind the proposed water district with an independent board. Portland officials have made compelling arguments about the risks of that proposal, in particular that the more specialized a board’s function the less public interest and scrutiny, and therefore the more likely control would rest with special interests.

    So a food for thought question: Is it desirable for PSI to remain independent from the city?

  2. It would make a great deal of sense to merge the Streetcar with Trimet. There is no reason to have a separate transit system for one type of technology; the streetcar is operationally nearly identical to a bus in mixed traffic, and technically similar to the Max light rail vehicles. The City could certainly choose to subsidize the operation and construction of new streetcar lines without having a separate entity involved (Though I do not support new mixed-traffic streetcars).

  3. Multnomah County is planning for the future of transportation on Sauvie Island, with an update of the Sauvie Island/Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and the Multnomah County Transportation System Plan:

    I have not felt the shoulderless roads to be a big problem, except on high-traffic weekends. We passed a traffic jam between the Pumpkin Patch and the bridge off the island on that beautiful October Satruday, a few weeks back. But on a few summer weekends when we have gone berry picking, no one has buzzed my bike or honked – perhaps it helps that I had my kids with me in the bike trailer? It would be nice to have a shoulder or bike lane, but I don’t know if the amount of traffic on the island makes this necessary, on most days.

    The biggest need is for a better route to the island for bikes and pedestrians, besides the noisy, dirty shoulder of Hwy 30. The railroad owns a 100 foot right-of-way which is underused north of St Johns. If they are willing to sell 10 to 20 feet of right-of-way, there could be a level route between NW Portland and Sauvie Islands, or even all the way to Scappoose and St Helens. This would provide a great route from St Johns to NW, SW and SE Portland, as well as a helping complete an loop of paths linking the Banks-Vernonia trail and the Crown Zellerbach trail with Portland.

    I would also love to see a new bridge across the Multnomah Channel at the NW side of the island, to connect Scappoose with the island. It could be a bike/ped only bridge to limit car traffic, or even a seasonal ferry if the costs of bridge construction are too high.

  4. The cover story in the Oct 30 edition of the DJC (Daily Journal of Commerce caught my eye yesterday at City Hall. “Industrial area calls to retailer” reads the headline. Seattle based First Western DS was on the lookout for a retail client and settled on the Industrial Home building on MLK in the Central Eastside. “This retailer looked at NW 23rd and the Pearl District, and feels the eastside industrial area, with the changes that are happening there, is really where they want to be. We are very optimistic that this will be a catalyst.” What will CEID look like in 10 years? Zoning is a big issue, but Streetcar ridership will likely rise. What are the costs/benefits of the industrial sanctuary?

    • MLK and Grand are NOT part of the industrial sanctuary. We have a corridor of mixed-use zoning along those streets. The trick is to resist the temptation to rezone the adjacent industrial blocks.

  5. Yes, I know, but how wide is that mixed use corridor; three blocks?. The articles noted another project that would require a zone change. Sounds like you, Chris, would recommend resisting such a change. I’m not so sure. The District is already changing from a true industrial district to something else.

  6. According to Stephen Smith, the FRA is planning reform their regulations to allow the use of European-style, lightweight DMU trains on rail mainlines.

    If this is true, by 2015 we could buy affordable DMU vehicles currently used for many rail services in Europe. For example, Stadler makes the “Regioshuttle” vehicles (similar to an articulated MAX car) for about $3 million, with a passenger capacity of 80 to 90 seated and as many standing, and a max speed of 120 kph (75 mph) and power of 12.5 kw/ton. It weighs 40 tons and has 690 horsepower.

    Compare this to over $4 million for a WES car, which is heavier and slower: it weighs over twice as much at 87.5 tons, with the same horsepower, for a ratio of only 5 kilowatts per ton. This means it takes over twice as long to accelerate.

    This is the graph for the Regioshuttles acceleration:
    It reaches 60 mph in 1 minute (after traveling just over a km), and 75 mph in 90 seconds (2 km of distance). This isn’t as good as the acceleration of the electric MAX cars, but it is within an order of magnitude. The current WES vehicles take over twice as long, and twice as far, to reach these speeds; that’s why the stops have to be so far apart, yet WES still only averages 37 mph speed over its 15 miles of track (it takes 25 minutes end to end).

    50% lighter vehicles would also reduce the cost of track and train maintenance, and save on fuel costs. It will make DMUs viable as an alternative to light rail, on routes where wider station spacing is reasonable and where there is not enough ridership to justify service every 15 minutes.

    If the freight railroads are willing to share tracks, it could be possible to start service between Oregon City and Vancouver along the Amtrak Cascades north-south alignment, and also from Portland to Troutdale east-west.

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