Archive | January, 2014

Chinese New Year/Super Bowl open thread.

Gung hei fat choi!

Time for another open thread:

  • More of the same for TriMet and ATU.
  • Metro wants to fast-track the UGB expansions approved in 2011, which have been held up by court challenges.
  • Several upcoming meetings for  the Southwest Corridor and the
  • Contrary to popular belief, bicycle commuting is not just for yuppies.
  • Washington State Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) has introduced a bill in Olympia which would essentially make it illegal for Washington municipal governments to condemn private property for “use or possession by a governmental agency of another state”.  One wonders what he could possibly be referring to.

Here We Go Again

Back in 2008, I was part of the stakeholder committee for “Safe, Sound and Green” – an attempt to generate additional revenue for PBOT. It was partially successful, helping push a statewide gas tax increase forward.

But that slug of revenue turned out to be less than expected due to countervailing trends. And Portland dedicated a big chunk of that bump to the Sellwood Bridge. So Commissioner Novick and the Mayor are at it again, starting with a set of open houses like the ones we had in 2008. Here’s the schedule:

See you at an open house next month!

Initial Reactions to the TriMet Audit

The State audit of TriMet and the agency response are now available.

There are no huge new revelations. But here are a few initial takeaways:

  • Underfunded liabilities for both pensions and health benefits are confirmed as a significant financial challenge for TriMet
  • Excess executive compensation is NOT identified as a source of financial strain, perhaps taking some wind out of one of ATU’s persistent claims
  • I was surprised by a couple of things:
    1. The poor state of tools and processes that allow management to communicate with employees
    2. Lack of a rigorous performance evaluation system for either union or non-union employees

Does He Mean It This Time?

Governor Kitzhaber has written to the Legislature, setting a deadline for a Columbia River Crossing funding deal. Get it done by March 15th, or he’ll pull the plug once and for all.

Of course ODOT has given us “it must happen by” deadlines at least twice before, and nonetheless sallied onward. And the Governor has “pulled the plug” once before.

Is it real this time? Or just another attempt to arm-twist the Legislature into a bad decision?

 

Greening the Planet with Open Source Software

Occasional Portland Transport contributor Garlynn Woodsong is the presenter at the next PSU Transportation Seminar:

Speakers: Garlynn Woodsong, Calthorpe Associates
Topics: Regional Planning, Greenhouse Gases, and UrbanFootprint open source software
When: Friday, January 31, 2014, 12-1 p.m.
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
Abstracts: Since about 2008, the planning world has been experiencing a paradigm shift that began in places like California and Oregon that have adopted legislation requiring the linking of land use and transportation plans to outcomes, specifically to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In response to this need, Calthorpe Associates has developed a new planning tool, called UrbanFootprint, on a fully Open Source platform (i.e. Ubuntu Linux, PostGIS, PostGreSQL, etc.). As a powerful and dynamic web and mobile-enabled geo-spatial scenario creation and modeling tool with full co-benefits analysis capacity, UrbanFootprint has great utility for urban planning and research at multiple scales, from general plans, to project assessments, to regional and state-wide scenario development and analysis. Scenario outcomes measurement modules include: a powerful ‘sketch’ transportation model that produces travel and emissions impacts; a public health analysis engine that measures land use impacts on respiratory disease, obesity, and related impacts and costs; climate-sensitive building energy and water modeling; fiscal impacts analysis; and greenhouse gas and other emissions modeling.