Mid-April Open Thread

Now that tax season is past, it’s time for another open thread:

  • The PMLR Bridge will be called:  Tilikum Crossing:  Bridge of the People.  This name was chosen out of four finalists (the others being Cascadia Crossing, Wy’east Crossing, and a bridge named after Abigail Scott Duniway.  The spelling of “Tilikum” was changed from the initial suggestion of “Tillicum” at the request of Chinook representatives, who prefer “Tilikum” as the proper Romanization of the Chinook Jargon word for “people”.
  • The Columbian reports that an audit of the CRC conducted by the Washington State Auditor’s Office found $17M in “questionable” spending, including higher-than-customary payments to outside professionals and work orders that didn’t go through proper and normal procurement processes.
  • Killing a BRT project, Nashville style.  (If you want to build BRT in a red state, propose light rail, and bargain down to BRT… if you start with real BRT, this happens.)

47 responses to “Mid-April Open Thread”

  1. Is it true that the Tilikum Crossing will carry ambulances? I also wonder how traffic will be managed- will busses fall MAX and light rail signals? How are disabled vehicles passed?

  2. Jarrett Walker’s blog Human Transit is up and running again after a distributed denial-of-service attack against its service provider took it (any many other blogs) out of commission for a few days.

  3. An anti-LRT, anti-HCT petition is now being circulated in Tualatin. The petitioners, which express opposition to any sort of high-capacity, dedicated lane transit (bus or rail), hope to have an item on the September ballot.

    • A September ballot?! What, another “special” election for the anti-everything whack jobs? Obviously they’re terrified of voting on this vile regressivism during a “real” November election when most reasonable people vote. How about an initiative to get rid of all these expensive “special” elections? There should be only Primaries and General elections, and the only “special” election should be to fill offices vacated due to a death or criminal misconduct.

        • I’m old enough to remember, many moons ago, that the anti-tax crowd used to complain that school levies votes and such were often held as special elections, and would thus pass with a narrow majority of a small number of voters. That’s one reason that Sizemore managed to pass a state constitutional amendment that requires a 50% turnout for any tax measures outside the general and primary election. Bit the 50% threshold doesn’t apply to non-tax initiatives (or to special elections to fill vacancies in elected office).

          The real reason many municipalities schedule elections on odd dates is that they need to make their budget before November–and that’s why many continue to do so despite the 50% threshold making passage harder (and the recent dominance of such elections by conservative voters).

          • Well, if that’s the case, then wouldn’t it be easier for municipalities to pass bonds or levies during a primary? When the 50% threshold doesn’t apply? My point is there should be no special elections at all, except to replace vacant seats as needed. There’s no measure or initiative that is SO pressing that it can’t wait a couple of months.

      • We’re spendings MILLIONS on studies without an election to even know what the PUBLIC wants!! Light rail is archaic technology only benefitting the lightrail profiteers promoting it as LMAO a green viable technology, it’s a TRAIN!

        Speaking of Whacko’s how about the dumbasses in our state government who thought having a light rail train on the CRC was more important then getting people across the water or high enough to get ships under it???

        You pro light rail, taxpayer profiteers are your own worse enemy building more unsustainable entities will eventually be the cancer that eats the host you all feed off of. In some states former workers are sueing to get their PERS, Oregon will eventually be one of those states as well. Check out DETROIT; bad decisions & special interest deals have horrific consequences!

        • Well, we spent over 100 million on the CRC–and I agree, that was money mostly wasted. (Not completely).

          At any rate–what’s wrong with trains? They aren’t useful for everything, and rail might not be the best choice for the southwest corridor, but they are great at moving large numbers of people at relatively low operating cost. And electric-powered rail (or bus) is green in that it doesn’t produce local pollution–even if fossil fuels are burned to produce the power, a centralized power plant is less damaging, generally, then a whole bunch of mobile combustion engines.

          And the CRC wasn’t killed by hippies or greens demanding light rail, it was killed by SW Washington residents demanding that there NOT be light rail.

          At any rate–none of the folks on this blog are profiting off light rail or anything else–this blog is run by volunteer activists; we take payola from nobody. In the future, please adopt a less inflammatory tone if you wish to continue posting here–this is not the OregonLive forums. And what any of this has to do with PERS (TriMet employees are not on PERS, in case you didn’t know that), I have little idea.

          • In the interest of full disclosure, I serve as volunteer webmaster for the Portland Streetcar, and I have occasionally done larger paid web and video projects when the hours required exceed my volunteer commitments. This has been disclosed on this blog before, and at multiple public meetings. While the sums involved are not large for my industry (I apply a nonprofit rate when applicable), one could reasonably argue that, to the extent streetcars are light rail technology, I do occasionally make a small profit from light rail.

            One could also behave far more reasonably when making such arguments. Joe, please see the rules. Further such troll bait from you will be removed.

          • Hi Scotty, CRC Columbia River Crossing collapsed because fortunately we still have enough elected officials in Washington State & a handful in Oregon to realize a bridge getting people over the water & high enough to get ships under was more important then accommodating a light rail subsidized train few people ride. Nothing to do with Washington county or Tigard residents wanting a vote before another train is forced upon us.

            What’s wrong with light rail or the WES line train?? I have to get in my car drive & park to get on one. It costs far more then buses takes up road space & ultimately competes with our schools & everything else for funding!

            The state & country are broke check out what they are building in Utah, this is the future not just for mass transit but possibly cars in general, run all day on one charge! Light rail only serves those who have financial gain by building it or operating it, it is archaic & expensive.


            • Actually, I’m all for better busses–it wouldn’t bother me one bit if they had a BRT line (electric or otherwise) for the Southwest Corridor, instead of light rail. There are some distinct advantages to doing so–they could potentially run the southern half of the 76 on the BRT route, making that line more efficient, even if Tigard-to-Beaverton still gets stuck on Hall Boulevard traffic.

              But as Bob R. points out below, the Tigard measure, and the ballot proposal in Tualatin, don’t simply go after light rail–they go after any sort of higher-capacity transit, particularly anything that runs in a dedicated lane. Essentially, the measures seek to prohibit (or at least frustrate) anything but local bus service. The objection doesn’t appear to be the cost (most of which would be paid for by Uncle Sam or Salem, not by Tualatin taxpayers), but because a) quality transit is an amenity which attracts people (much of the state concern is about density and “apartments”), and b) vested interests want every square inch of transportation infrastructure usable by cars.

              What’s wrong with light rail or the WES line train?? I have to get in my car drive & park to get on one. It costs far more then buses takes up road space & ultimately competes with our schools & everything else for funding!

              If you live in most of Tualatin–anywhere but along Boones Ferry Road, the downtown area, or around Meridian Park, you also need to drive to catch a bus. If your complaint is that local bus service in Tualatin is inadequate–and that’s a legitimate complaint–the solution to that problem isn’t to oppose rapid transit, funding for which comes out of different pots of money. The solution to that is to find ways to pay for more local service. TriMet is working on a SW Service Enhancement Plan, which likely will include things like better service to the industrial areas west of town, direct connections to Sherwood and West Linn/Oregon City, and probably better local service–but funding that is an issue.

              Utah is an interesting case: The state has a reputation for being politically conservative, but Salt Lake City is building a rather nice transit system. (They even have a bus rapid transit line called “MAX”). In Oregon, though, political conservatives seem almost universally opposed to anything beyond basic local service.

            • Salt Lake, and Utah in general, has built more urban rail in the last 20 years (FrontRunner, TRAX, Sugar House Streetcar) than most of the rest of the US combined. It’s actually very impressive.

  4. There are many things wrong with your thinking on these special elections.

    First of all the elections dates are selected by signature turn in and these petitioners do not target low turnout elections. They would be happy with any election.

    In Tigard the council had a lone measure special election vote last November. They paid $53,000 to pass a Urban Renewal fix. No one complained.

    Second if you think the primary and general elections would favor the anti-public vote pro light rail side why does the entirety of our local governments oppose any votes, on any election?

    The hypocrisy of those criticizing the idea of light rail votes is astounding.

    While claiming they have public support they oppose the public vote to prove it.

    We would welcome the city of Tualatin to place a measure on the any ballot so we did not have to go gather signatures but the mayor has said he thinks voters are not smart enough to vote.

    And so it goes. Here is a better alternative in my view to trains Aaron. http://www.waveipt.com/blog/new-wave-electric-buses-developed-usu

    • The Tigard “light rail votes” were votes against any form of high-capacity transit, advanced electric buses, or any kind of rapid buses included. Go ahead and buy the buses you favor, but by the result of “public support” in the election that you tout, they will not have dedicated lanes or any improvements beyond the norm of being stuck in traffic.

  5. Bob the measure requires voter approval of any HCT through Tigard. It also requires all involved in HCT outside city government to be told annually Tigard is opposed to HCT unless the proposal meets voter approval. The self proclaimed stop congestion opposition to the measure advocated the measure doesn’t allow any HCT through Tigard fortunately most people read the ballot & didn’t buy into their propaganda. Since when did requiring voter approval mean the equivalent of more congestion? The new battery powered buses don’t require rails or wires if one breaks down it doesn’t shut the whole line down and unlike trains you don’t have to get in your car drive and park to get on one. Unfortunately for those who make millions building the infrastructure to support trains their time has passed.

    • Joe,

      Do you ride Tri-Met to work? If so, do you do so daily? Obviously, there will be the occasional day you have to drive. But the majority?

      If not, why do you think that having whiffy new electric buses is going to attract you or any other rider to use them? They’ll be just as slow, have the same riders, and follow the same winding, car-constrained routes unless they get reserved lanes.

    • unlike trains you don’t have to get in your car drive and park to get on one

      A high quality transit line, whether it be rail or bus, can only serve a limited set of stations or stops. It can only be the equivalent of the trunk of a tree, and if you’re out on a tree branch, the trunk is never going to be near you as it has to support branches. And you can always walk, bike, take a local bus or move closer to one of those stops.

      • But the advantage of bus is that a local bus can pick up people in their neighborhood, then get on a dedicated ROW for a fast trip to downtown.

        • The Tualatin petition, though, objects to the “dedicated ROW” part, even if it is open BRT (which can do as you describe).

          Many suburban residents oppose expansion of transit beyond POBS (plain old bus service) out of concern that higher-quality transit will bring higher-density development. Certainly, the two go together–places with good transit service can support higher density (the limiting factor often being automobile traffic and parking), and places with high density (and good mixes of use) are easier to serve with quality transit, and easier to live in without a car. And MAX lines have often come with adjacent upzoning–although downtown Tualatin is already built-out and mixed-use, so the redevelopment opportunities there may be limited. (It’s unlikely that a MAX or BRT station in the Tualatin city center will cause apartments to spring up down by the high school, or in the various single-family neighboods along the river outside of the downtown core).

          If you have a significant investment in an automobile and in low-density real estate, you may view expanded transit service as a threat to your current lifestyle. That is in many ways the essence of “stop Portland creep”–a concern that whole swaths of suburbia will be upzoned, and existing single-family neighborhoods turned into the Pearl. In addition, many motorists would rather that dollars spent on transit projects and bike infrastructure be spent instead on fixing and building roads.

  6. Hi Scotty, in my view the electric buses & this grid technology could carry over into the auto industry as well. Buses come to you trains do not, so I agree with you more bus stops are a better solution then a train that takes up needed road space & can’t come to you!

    The Tigard measure ONLY requires a proposal to be voter approved rather then the politicians & those who profit from the building of light rail. IT STOPS NOTHING but bad ideas people do not want to pay for IF they cannot reasonably argue it to the voters. We allowed the continued planning of HCT, If we were truly for Congestion as the “Stop Congestion” opposition advocated in Tigard our measure would have read completely different!

    I understand how Bob R came to his conclusion. We had every big money transit interest & politicians they influence & even the media advocating their own interests rather then the truth. Ross Island Sand & Gravel is owned by Pamphlin media; is it any surprise the Tigard Times & Oregonian opposed the Pro Vote measure in Tigard?

    Look at where the money came from to help pay for the opposition who claimed a yes vote meant more congestion in Tigard. In one of their mailers they even stated don’t let outside extremists silence your voice vote no on measure 34-210! Murphy & those who opposed Tigard residents right to have final say on what form of HCT if any couldn’t be more disingenuous with their claims! The slander & deceit from their side will have a continuing impact on any future attempts they may make in forcing light rail through Tigard.

    1700 Democrats signed the petition & many helped advocate their dislike of something this dramatic to a community not being up for a vote in Tigard, not just Conservatives. No one wants their home being a future parking lot for light rail & we have plenty of high density housing in our town already!!!! Light rail & all that comes with it can continue to be a financial burden for Portland & unfortunately for Milwaukie, hope to see Tigard left out of that fiasco.

    • Like I said above–if you want better local bus service to Tualatin (and that would be a fine idea–existing service leaves much to be desired), advocate for that.

      One problem: Much of Tualatin is difficult to serve effectively, given the low residential density. Far too many homes are too far away from major streets. The sort of service pattern that works best in such environments is a local circulator that connects neighborhoods to transit centers and a few other major destinations (Meridian Park probably being the most important); but beyond that you’ll need to transfer to another service to reach Beaverton or Portland or Oregon City, if you’re not on one of the main routes. In which case–why not transfer to high-capacity transit? Unless you live along Boones Ferry Road and use the 96 to commute downtown and back, you don’t have a one-seat ride to downtown as it is.

      One other point: Other than possibly in downtown, the proposed alignments for the SWC are mostly on new rights-of-way, as opposed to taking lanes currently used by automobiles. While “paint job BRT” is both cheap and effective, it’s also politically unpopular in auto-centric suburbs, so is not likely to happen.

  7. Anandakos Light rail runs on wires & train tracks & uses EXISTING ROAD SPACE. Why would you think this is preferable to a bus that makes a right & left turns & doesn’t cost billions to build & more to sustain then buses????

    This induction technology could be something carried over into the auto industry as well, a great alternative to current battery powered cars. Far less remodeling of our roads then a track & wires for a train. I occasionally take my kids on the WES line for entertainment they like trains. It unfortunately is impractical for any of my needs beyond that.

    • Did I say anything about Light Rail in my post? I asked if you believe that changing the propulsion system of a bus RUNNING IN MIXED TRAFFIC would make a difference in your choice of commuting vehicle. Your reply was, “It [presumably WES] unfortunately is impractical for any of my needs beyond that [an amusement ride for your kids].”

      So I gather that you don’t work in Beaverton or somewhere in the tech corridor west of there served by MAX which connects with WES. Apparently you also don’t work in the Portland CBD which is served by peak hour expresses that get downtown about as fast as a car does. Perhaps you work along Kruse Way which I agree has ridiculously poor service or in Wilsonville or in the industrial area heading toward Sherwood all of which are close by Tualatin. If so, good for you; just being close to your job makes you “greener” than many even if you drive solo.

      So, is your answer “I would ride an electrically powered bus OPERATING IN MIXED TRAFFIC even though it doesn’t take me where I’m going.”? Because by singing its praises that’s what you’re implying. The capitalized letters (e.g. “transit priority”) are much more important than the power system of the bus when it comes to attracting choice riders like yourself. Sure, electrics are quieter and smoother than diesels in stop-and-go-city operation; they approach the rider experience of a rail car. And, “yes” there are trolley lovers in Seattle and San Francisco who simply won’t ride a route with a diesel. But most people don’t give a rip about the bus’s propulsion method, especially in commuter bus service which typically runs on a freeway.

      It’s transit priority that improves the rider experience most, because it reduces the elapsed time of every trip and vastly increases the reliability that the schedule will be kept.

      The prohibition on lane priority and that bugaboo “density” (dog whistle for “keep the black and brown folks out”) are what’s wrong with this “I’ve got mine screw you, Charlie” proposition.

      • Hey Andakos, take back that crap about density concerns being a dog whistle for racism. Utter balderdash- as you would know if you had friends of color around North Williams who fought certain projects. Plus it’s just demonizing the opposition. Uncool.

        • I expect that the opposition on North Williams was more about “gentrification” than density per se. And that is often a legitimate concern; folks of modest income who’ve lived in a neighborhood don’t want development that drives up assessed valuations such that they get forced out by tax rises. Too often that does happen.

          But that’s not what’s happening in Tualatin. It’s already thoroughly “gentrified”. The gentry already lives there, in force. For them “density” means lower cost living units, not higher cost ones as on Williams.

            • Really? Calling out racism is uncool?! Anandakos is exactly right… “density” is, in fact, a bugaboo. It’s meant to scare people who are afraid (yes, AFRAID…. there’s that word again) of so-called “urban” people. As if rural and suburban people are any different. People of color live everywhere, not just high-density areas. It’s the same mentality that refers to HCT trains as “crime” trains. As if there are no criminals in the suburbs. Disgusting!

            • Oh, and “man up” is pretty sexist, don’t you think? Glass houses.

            • Have you ever lived outside of pasty-white Oregon? In the majority of the country, at least historically, density and racism go hand in hand. This is a well-documented part of post-war American history. Are you aware of the term “white flight”?

            • Well Chris, if you count Chicago, Connecticut, Orlando, Jacksonville, Mobile, San Diego, DC, Philly, Baltimore, Palm Springs, Cheyenne, Sacramento and Oxford (GB) as outside “pasty white” Oregon, then yes. I have lived many places and traveled extensively around the world. So you shouldn’t make assumptions about people you don’t know.

              And yes, I know what white flight is.

              My point was that people are the same everywhere. There are racists, misogynists, fundamentalists, criminals and homophobes everywhere. People in the suburbs are no better than people in the cities and exurbs. And calling out people for those views is the only way to confront that mentality. “Crime train” and “density”, used in the aforementioned context, are code words for “I don’t want to live next to _______”. Insert your own group into that sentence. That seems to be the motivation behind these anti-rail, anti-density initiatives. That’s why I think they’re repulsive.

              Anyway, it’s May now….. time to jump to the next Open Thread.

            • Aaron,

              I think Chris was agreeing with you and challenging OM. I certainly may be wrong, but that’s how I read his post.

              And, thanks to you both for the good words. OM has a grudge with me because I’m willing to stand up to her bullying insults against “urbanists” and “developers”.

            • Ah, if that’s the case, then I apologize Chris. I completely misread your comment.

          • There are many reasons that established residents may oppose increased density. Preventing a drop in median incomes or property values is often one of them–and for some folks, there is often a racist component to this. (Read the comments section in The Columbian, and it’s obvious that quite a few Clark County residents view the Columbia River as a moat protecting their castle keep from the rampaging hordes of dark-skinned folks on the Oregon side, and light rail an enemy siege engine).

            Of course, there are many other reasons that have utterly nothing to do with class or race. Simply reducing competition for shared amenities/goods like road space, parking, parks, and even air and sunlight is often a motivation. Some people simply like less crowded areas. To what extent a resident can insist that their neighborhood remain static is an important policy question.

            It’s OK to bring up the spectre of racism if done carefully, or in response to an overtly racist comment. Suggesting another commenter is motivated by such (without evidence) is uncivil behavior and out of bounds. Generic comments like “those people who do X are all (or mostly) racists”, without any corroboration, is probably needlessly provocative.

            To address Anandakos’ remarks: Density concerns can be a racist dogwhistle, and from some speakers, that’s probably a good guess. But I wouldn’t generalize that “can” to an “are”; there are plenty of examples to the contrary, and bring race and racism into a conversation where it wasn’t before, can often add more heat than light.

            • Thanks, Scotty. I should have said said something like “keep out people who aren’t like those who live here already.” and left it for the reader to conclude who those people are.

            • Dear Engineer Scotty:

              “Some people simply like less crowded areas. To what extent a resident can insist that their neighborhood remain static is an important policy question.”

              Yup. Bingo.

              “Suggesting another commenter is motivated by such (without evidence) is uncivil behavior and out of bounds. ”

              Yup- I would just add that it is both uncivil and uncool

              Andakos- your dodge below doesn’t work. Man up and say what you mean. Have the cajones to admit when you are wrong.

              Thanks for your productive comments, Eng. Scotty.

            • It’s “cojones”, Senora “Chicana”, and I do not give a rodent’s hindquarters what you think about me.

  8. We’ve plowed the “LRT vs BRT” ground here plenty of times, but there is no question that opposition to any “High Capacity Transit,” ie. reliable transit, is nothing short of irrational.
    Bottom line, to have “RT” as I call it, you must have exclusive right of way, regardless of vehicle type. That is where the expense is unless you take a lane as with the Yellow Line.
    That’s tough to do in SW where there are not the parallel options that N. Portland offered.
    But why bother with Tigard? I have no interest in the place. I see destinations at PCC Sylvania, the Kruse Woods office park and Bridgeport (though I have never been there).

  9. The Oregonian breaks some taboos with this story. It connects the increase in inner-city with a decline in suburban housing development, and acknowledges developers are responding in part to popular demand.

  10. For decades Portland and most American cities suffered from dis-investment and population loss. Its nice to see that beginning to reverse. The UGB helps, but the same trend is occurring in many cities with no land use laws, because people want to live in cities again. Let’s celebrate! And, after years of driving out Division St past all the vacant lots and dying gas stations, its great to see modest multi-family housing with small businesses and people on the street. There is beginning to be a “There there!”

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