Rose Festival Open Thread

Time for another open thread.

  • The Portland City Council is delaying until November a vote on the proposed (and controversial) per-household street fee.  The Willamette Week has more hereWW‘s Aaron Mesh suggests that there weren’t yet three votes on the council (beyond Steve Novick and mayor Charlie Hales), and that councilor Amanda Fritz requested the delay.
  • Next Monday, Metro will formally approve the scope of the Southwest Corridor project.  As previously noted, TriMet has reportedly suggested a “split” line, with two branches diverging in the Tigard Triangle:  A short one across 217 to Tigard TC, and a longer one heading south to Tualatin.  And in a story that will get the motorists-first crowd up in a tizzy, Joseph Rose is reporting that the leading alignment being considered would use existing lanes on Barbur Boulevard, rather than a new alignment.
  • Metro has radically redesigned their home page.  So far, I like the old one better…
  • The Powell-Division Transit and Development Project (the “and Development” part appears to be a recent addition to the name of this endeavor, make of that what you will) now has a project atlas.
  • TriMet is looking for a few good hackers.
  • TriMet is considering closing a pedestrian path between Willow Creek TC and SW Baseline due to persistent vandalism and drug use.


33 responses to “Rose Festival Open Thread”

  1. A few other wrinkles on Rose’s reporting: It’s suggested that Barbur would only lose auto capacity were a LRT line built–it’s not safe to run rail (beyond Streetcar speeds) and auto traffic in the same lanes. However, would the same standard be applied to bus? Or would a BRT line operate in mixed traffic in these sections?

    Also, Rose reports that for at least two sections, only a single lane would be converted, not two–which would imply single-tracking (or a single bidirectional lane BRT). For short sections, this might be a reasonable cost tradeoff, for long sections, single-track/lane routes impact reliability and maximum frequency. Right now, ignoring tail tracks, the only single-tracked part of MAX is the Red Line turn between Gateway TC and Parkrose.

    • It seems like BRT is the only option with this plan. A peak-direction BRT lane for the entire length of Barbur would be a great solution. The ROW has the space, and there is plenty of capacity in the reverse direction for the busses to run mixed. The only question is platforms. How do you share a peak direction lane but run mixed in the opposite? Would you need vehicles with doors on both sides?

      • BRT buses usually have doors on both sides. I think it would look something like this: the middle lane would be peak direction and station platforms would be on both sides. peak direction boarding/alighting could be done from both sides while off-peak direction boarding/alighting would be done from the platform facing that direction of travel.

        Personally, and long-term, I would like to see it as another MAX line because we have already built out a system. It would be unfortunate to not be able to tie this line into the existing system. Just as the Orange line can continue on as a different color, the Tigard line would do well to do the same thing. However, if future lines are BRT, then we could have a comprehensive and complementary system of LRT and BRT.

        • If they can’t pay for a tunnel under OHSU, it might as well be BRT. Likewise with Powell. If total separation cannot be achieved, BRT is the only option. If both SW Corridor and Powell end up being BRT, they could be tied in downtown somehow. Future lines could be added on other corridors with the same vehicle type.

        • Joseph,

          MAX announces “Doors to my right” or “Doors to my left” at each stop. Seems like the BRT buses could do so as well. So only one set of platforms would be needed for the center exclusive lane; the off-peak buses would stop at curbside.

          Grant, it means three platforms would be needed at each station stop, instead of two as in your interesting suggestion. But it would save a few feet of street width at each station, something that’s needed to keep the reconstruction of Barbur to a minimum. Also, the off-peak direction BRT buses wouldn’t be stopping in the “through” lane where four would remain.


          While it’s practical to have single-lane LRT because the rails provide real-time certainty that a block is occupied or not, a dynamically reversible lane for buses would be pretty sketchy. There’s no way to be absolutely certain the next “block” is not occupied with rubber tired vehicles. Sure, Barber is mostly straight and fairly flat, so the drivers could presumably have visual certainty, but there are bound to be days or nights with heavy rain or fog once in a while.

          Better to do as Joseph assumes and run the “off-peak” buses in the general traffic lanes.

          If the “short tunnel” to serve OHSU were built the “slip ramp” interchange between Naito and Barbur would be bypassed, easing the problems a reversible middle lane faces there.

          • Ah.. your suggestion would save space and might decrease capital costs. However, if buses are stopping curbside, then it means they are running in the right lane. They will need to deal with cars entering and exiting the roadway. If buses are running in the left lane, there would be less disruptions to service. It would also be more intuitive to riders; the station is always in the middle of the road. Riders wouldn’t need to keep track of the time to determine where their bus will stop.

            • You’ve made two good technical points, but the city Department of Transportation is simply not going to allow buses in the left hand of two general purpose traffic lanes to stop for passengers. Nowhere else in the US does so, and so while local drivers might get used to it, visitors from elsewhere would constantly be surprised — and rear-end — buses stopping in that lane at a place other than one with a current red light.

    • I think we’ll see these notices ever three to six months. There’s obviously political desire for a bridge replacement. The real question, it seems is funding. I can’t believe that two states would finance the whole undertaking on their own, without federal assistance. Once I hear of a new round of federal grants for large projects like this, I’ll start paying more attention.

      • The real question will be light rail. OR wants it and WA doesn’t. The moment one side gives in on that issue, this bridge will be a green light all the way. Federal funding will come either way.

        • What you’re saying is not exactly true. What Oregon wants is for North Portland not to be overwhelmed and degraded by a tsunami of SOV’s from Clark County’s development-on-steroids.

          There are two ways to accomplish that: limit cross-river highway capacity or change the pattern of development in Clark County so that a significant portion of it can reasonably to served by transit instead of more private autos.

          Portland was (reluctantly) willing to go for the five-lanes in each direction bridge with LRT, hoping that the lanes wouldn’t really be needed because development would be focused on downtown Vancouver as it has been in other “urban villages” along MAX lines.

          Now that it’s a slam-dunk that there will be no Yellow Line to Washington, the only way for North Portland to maintain its livability is the “No Build” option OR a further slimmed down bridge.

          I personally believe (living here in Clark County) that the best solution is a true four-lane in each direction bridge (e.g. no ten foot wide breakdown lanes waiting to be re-striped) with the added capacity coming as a pair of 24/7/365 HOV lanes leading to a single reversible HOV lane squeezed into the existing envelope of the freeway through North Portland. The HOV facility would have slip ramps to the main traffic lanes which would be gated like the reversible lane slip ramp in Seattle so that off-peak HOV traffic could transition to the general traffic lanes.

          Those slip ramps would be right underneath the Marine Drive bridge and just south of it the peak-direction HOV lane would rise up to become elevated in order to give BRT buses from Clark County unimpeded access to a bus loop at Delta Park/Vanport using structures like those on single-lane HOV facilities in Houston. The reversible lane would also cross over the northbound lanes at the Denver Avenue curve and run alongside it to the Columbia Boulevard curve where it would move to the center of the freeway just to the east of the central pillars on the bridges.

          Obviously this would require that the northbound side be widened south of there, but I do believe there is room to accomplish that and still provide three general purpose lanes.

          This is not cheap, I grant, but it’s probably cheaper than extending MAX to Vancouver at a half billion dollars (assuming a lift span for transit and alternative modes only). And, it provides three general purpose lanes northbound in the PM peak when congestion is at its worst. Since a significant portion of those PM peak trips are NOT work-related — not true of the morning peak — a greater portion of them are not convertible to transit.

          • I wasn’t clear when I talked about the gated transition. The gates would be on the transition between the two permanent HOV lanes and the single reversible one. HOV traffic could transition to the general traffic lanes at all hours. This would allow people to use the HOV facility across the river but still use the North Portland ramps to the general traffic lanes.

            There is no room to have any HOV-only exits in North Portland.

            Also, I forgot to mention the treatment at the south end of the reversible section. After passing under the Failing Street Pedestrian Bridge (by the way, is it the street, the pedestrians or the bridge which is failing?) it would rise up (or perhaps sink down depending on the engineering) and over or underpass the northbound lanes east to connect to the Kerby Avenue ramp using spiral ramps.

            Kerby Avenue is usually fairly free flowing across the Fremont Bridge in the evening peak when the congestion on the bridge is greatest.

            This gives direct connection to the fastest growing part of downtown Portland using the Glisan/Everett and Couch ramps and a leg up on travel to the tech corridor.

  2. SE Portland is down-graded again. I would bet that Line 17, 9, and 4 lines carry the most people if you add them up together and have the most need for the best transit options (LRT in my opinion). Isn’t LRT the most cost effective operational method (one LRT driver carries two to three times the people as a bus driver?). SE Portland gets BRT-lite and better be happy with it is the response. Sorry but BRT-lite will not cut it. There will be no improvement in service. Seems like SE PDX is being cut out of the LRT system for very wrong reasons.

    My hope is LRT from 17th and Powell to I-205. BRT-lite on Division out to MHCC first. BRT-lite on Powell out to Gresham Central LRT Station second. Then much later decide where to put LRT east of I-205 (Division, Powell, or Foster/Sunnyside out to Damascus). Streetcar on Division from 11th/12th (OMSI) out to 39th to start (end the line at 82nd later). Keep your options open for SE PDX since there is alot of growth everywhere.


    • SE Portland does have a new LRT line opening next year. Not one heading East, of course, but there is one there. It also has the Green Line.

      LRT in the Powell/Division corridor would be rather expensive–and disruptive, unless it were a subway–to build.

      • I would suggest elevated from 17th to 52nd and not think subway for this corridor. Only Lloyd District and DT should be seeing a subway in PDX in the next 100 years.

      • And I thought a streetcar extension up Hawthorne, turning on 52nd and then out Foster to Lents was a more likely scenario.

        • A Hawthorne streetcar has been often discussed; but it wouldn’t likely offer any performance improvements over the existing 14. The point of the Powell/Division project is something that is faster and more reliable than the existing 4/9 lines. Some improvement could be done with “BRT-lite” (signal priority, offboard fare payment, multiple doors, longer stop spacing, queue jump lanes), but significant improvement likely requires an exclusive lane as well. And the “exclusive lane” is the hard part, as it would require either taking lanes from cars (politically hard, especially if Powell is involved), elevation or a subway (expensive), or knocking down buildings (politically hard AND expensive).

          • The advantage of Streetcar on the 14 route would be greater capacity per vehicle (not insignificant at peak hours) and the opportunity for electrification. But I agree with Scotty that it would be very challenging in the current lane configurations.

          • And this my point as well, there will be little improvement without a commitment to exclusive right of way. Don,t spend the money for buses still stuck in traffic.

            I would ask that the committee spend some dollars on feasibility and cost for elevated LRT between 17th and 52nd. What was the cost per mile for elevated tracks for the Yellow, Green, and whatever color the Milwaukee line is? I would then double it because most of the work would done from 6PM to 6AM when traffic is less.

            Let’s just say $100M per mile and double it. That’s $400M for two miles (bet it is less then two miles). Plus two stations at 39th and at 51st for $20M.

            I would place a third station at 82nd and Powell back in an elevated alignment. Powell is very busy between 82nd and I205 and there is no room. Plus elevating the corridor sets up the connection for the Green Line to move South for its E/W alignment. So $100M for grade level LRT from 52nd to 82nd (OR owns most of this land from the Mt Hood FWY days that was promised us). $150M to elevate and connect to the Green Line (can be located South of Powell (OR owns land here too from the Mt Hood FWY days). $20M for improvements and connectivity at the Green Line Station.

            This balances out the two main E/W LRT corridors with two lines each. Better N/S connectivity would the result for all bus lines in Inner East PDX.

            So on my napkin that’s 400+100+150=$650M is the line itself. Four stations at $50M. New trains might $10 or $20M? So thats $700 to $750M. That shouldn’t be sticker shock. I bet my estimate is high as well.

            As for PCC at Division, I think a shuttle bus line should be started to see if a streetcar could be viable later. The shuttle would bounce back and forth between the Gateway MAX station, Mall 205, Montivilla District, PCC/Division, Jade District, MAX on Powell, and Eastport Plaza.


            • Other cites that have had elevated tracks have gone to great lengths to remove them. I’m thinking of NYC in particular, which is now spending billions to replace a 2nd ave. elevated line they tore down in the 50’s. The structures are seen as unsightly, the area under the track as dim and no conducive to business development, and they’re noisy.

              Maybe the technology for building them has gotten better, but I think an elevated line would generate just as many complaints as a surface line that steals lanes.

            • Igor,

              Yes, the technology for building elevated rail structures has very much improved. The old “el” lines were on riveted steel structures much like the Hawthorne and older Interstate bridges. They’re noisy and wide with many supports.

              Modern LRT structures are “cast in place” concrete on T-pillars. They have longer spacing between supports and except at stations only one support per supported point.

            • Putting aside the reality that elevated lines are almost certainly a political non-starter, your plan makes the SAME mistake that the Banfield MAX line made 28 years ago, which is excessively wide stop spacing in close-in Portland. Banfield MAX has no stations between NE 11th and NE 42nd, and your plan would have the same obscene gap in station spacing on Powell between 12th and 39th bypassing many existing and future riders.

              Instead of trying to get out to the suburbs as quickly as possible, HCT should actually serve the inner neighborhoods where transit use is likely to be highest. That means placing a stop at 21st or 26th on your hypothetical line.

  3. SW and SE will get LRT if they fight for it; otherwise its BRT, probably that on the cheap.
    Will be interesting to watch.

  4. No good links (yet), but today TriMet et al had a little ceremony to celebrate the “closing” of the Tilikum Crossing bridge deck; it’s now possible to walk across the bridge. Not sure if all the structural elements are yet complete, but there ya go.

    Still lots of work needed before the bridge is functionally complete (and safe for the public); given TriMet’s training needs it likely won’t be publicly accessible until around the time PMLR opens.

    • Have they considered the option to have a high-elevation track so that they don’t need such a deep tunnel @ OHSU? basically don’t connect to the south end of the green/yellow but build a station above those tracks

  5. Private luxury express bus service is popping up in several cities. The services described by the article are generally:

    * Privately operated
    * Commuter-focused
    * Express service patterns (limited stop service)
    * Nice onboard amenities (coach seating, wifi, etc.)
    * Offer reserved seating and/or “memberships”, as opposed to first-come, first-served pay-as-you-board.
    * Generally have fares that are several times the equivalent public transit fare.

    And of course, there’s been much written about “Google busses”–similar operations run by high-tech employers for their employees.

    • Just wait to see how self-driving vehicles change the landscape in a decade or so. It should be interesting.

    • That sounds great! Ill bet a lot of commuters here would pay a premium for a service like that, especially if it was faster and more reliable than trimet. It could also help alleviate the crowding that happens on regular busses during rush hour.

      • We already have that in Clark County. Our regular “all-zone” bus fare, which includes a transfer good on Tri-Met is $2.50. The expresses to downtown Portland cost $3.60 or 44% more. Many, but not all, of the buses are the new “Cruisemobile” hybrids that Aunt Patty got during the stimulus. They have reading lights…..

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